Judges: Behind the Clipboard #1

January 12th, 2023

January 12th, 2023

Ahead of our first Virtual Competition of the year on Monday 23rd January, we speak to the Warpaint family of judges and share their insight and experience with you over a series of short features.

In this first article we discuss what the judges look in each competitor’s adherence to and interpretation of the brief.

We talk to Emma Cammack and Tanya Noor, who both judged the Character category at the Warpaint Extra National Student Makeup Competition in November.  Their advice and observations apply across all categories, not just Character.

Emma has been working as a bodypainter for the past 30 years. Her work has been featured in editorial, advertising, television, magazines, as fine art, on packaging, as live body art installations and more. Emma was a judge on Skin Wars and Skin Wars Fresh Paint. Emma’s recent work explores empowerment, self-love and body positivity. She is a passionate advocate of the power of bodypaint to promote self-confidence. Her work on TV shows such as Naked Beach in the UK and No Body is Perfect for German TV explore this.


Tanya trained at London College of Fashion (LCF) and has been a MUA for around 30 years. She has worked in all areas of the industry including: TV, Film, Theatre and Fashion as well as teaching. She was head of the make-up department at Phantom of the Opera (the brilliant original London production) for over 20 years and was also part of the main make up team for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies for London 2012. She has worked on many other live events including: Fashion Rocks, The Brits, The Royal Variety Performance, Comic Relief and the Olivier Awards and Most recently for TV & film on The Crown, The Great, Mission Impossible and James Bond. Tanya is deputy course leader at LCF on the BA Hons Degree course in Hair, Make Up and Prosthetics For Performance.


“There is always a reason for every piece of makeup we apply.”


Warpaint – What should competitors be doing first?

Tanya – it’s really important to unpack the brief.  You can do the best makeup ever, but if it doesn’t hit the brief then it’s no good to anyone.  Students should be learning how to identify the criteria within a brief and the key elements to realise an outcome in a performance context.  Whether it’s for a competition, an assessment or an industry job, it is an important skill required to progress within the industry.

Emma – Take the brief as though it was an actual job and research, prepare and mood board for that.  For example, the winner of the character category in our last competition [theme – Tim Burton with a twist] had imagined there was a sequel to Edward Scissorhands and that her character had come back to life.  They researched how the character had died and made prosthetic appliances for each wound from the death scene as raised scar tissue.  Then they had new wounds created for the fresh wounds from the scene the character had just been in the imagined sequel when he encountered Edward again.

Warpaint Extra National Student Makeup Competition – Character Character winner – Ashleigh Warrington, Salford City College

This showed a more mature understanding of creating a character within the parameters set by the piece.  There is always a reason for every piece of makeup we apply.  The winning student understood that and it was what garnered those few extra points to put her in first place, in a very tight field of really good entrants.

Tanya – Yes, the winning student had a great back story to support the look and had put of lot of effort into the research and development, and understood the importance of continuity when creating the old and new scars.


Warpaint – where can competitors lose marks?

Emma – The makeup can be brilliant but they can lose marks on adherence to the brief, research, their mood boards and character development. You may create a well-rounded and skilful makeup look with an excellent costume, but if it is just a copy of an existing character/look you may not score as highly as other competitors.  Ensure you have done full research – don’t assume you know where the character is from or the inspiration behind it.  Check your sources; it can be helpful to look at what or who inspired the creation of the original character, and show this on your mood board.  Be thorough – you may well find something interesting to use within your design during your background research.  If it is obvious that a competitor has not done much research, or made incorrect assumptions about the character they are creating, then they won’t score as many points for those elements.

Tanya – I agree, if there is no real reason for the end character that is created, other than it would be a fun thing to do, then there won’t be as many points awarded.  And remember, we also look at health and safety and tidy workstations throughout the judging period as well as how the MUA looks after their model and interacts with the judges and those around them.


“First and foremost the makeup must fulfil the brief”


Warpaint – what should entrants also be aware of?

Emma – It is important to show a variety of skills, materials and processes involved in creating a look.  While costume is a very important part in any category, costume isn’t makeup and first and foremost the makeup must fulfil the brief.  Having an elaborate costume can be amazing, but it should not be at the expense of the actual makeup creation or the research for the look.

Tanya – It’s really important to ensure that all prosthetics and any additional pieces used are of a professional standard and suitable for use on the skin. This means items that are a medical or cosmetic grade and/or created specifically for prosthetic use.  Things like gaffer tape, craft paints or glitter or materials such as fimo polymer clay are not appropriate or suitable in a performance context, and this will be reflected in the marking.


“Try to think outside the box.”


Emma – We also look at the entire creation from the perspective of how it would look on stage, again with the makeup look and application as well as the costume.

The students who were placed in the Character category showed really good makeup application with well-thought out character development and back story.  The student in second place utilised raked brushes and textured sponges to create a fur texture on the skin, and showed really good trompe l’oeill skills with a hand-painted cravat.  She also had added a horror element to her design, utilising a metal piece (which is very difficult) having built it up ahead of the competition with latex and cotton wool.

These kind of entries often score more highly than those that are more a straight character copy or mashup without a backstory or any additional creativity.  Try to think outside the box.

Warpaint Extra National Student Makeup Competition – Character Character 2nd Place – Freya Padget, Runshaw College


Tanya – Remember that competitions are supposed to be a replication of any potential industry setting, so you must bring anything with you that you need to complete your look.  This includes mirrors, lights and high stools. An extension lead for any powered devices you may need (airbrush, hair straighteners, curlers etc) is always a good idea – you could be a long way from a plug socket!


Want to enter our virtual competition?  All details are here – don’t wait too long, registration closes at 5pm Friday 20th January.

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By Sarah Dann

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