Break Through Illusion: learn to create perfect illusion with makeup + EXCLUSIVE interview with Illusion goddess Mimi Choi



Well, this is going to be A treat - I think it’s high time we talked about more than a glam look. After all, all makeup artists are creators in nature and learning to execute creative looks is a must if you want to be called a true PRO. It doesn't mean that you necessarily have to do illusion, just that a more intricate, not commercial makeup style would open you bigger doors and get more high paying clients. However, all comes down to your level of artistry.


Don’t be intimidated - yes, it takes work, practise, but nobody says that you’re going to be a Michelangelo or Mimi Choi since day 1. They haven’t done it in a day either. However, if you want to hear them say it (it’s too late for Michelangelo, though) - there will be an interview with Mimi at the end of this article. In the meantime, let’s cover our basis with this 2 question FAQ.





However, it is truly hard to put a pinpoint, where it is just illusion since this art form is based on skill and imagination. You can literally do anything like: face manipulations, transferring real life objects on your body, recreating graphic optical illusion etc. Here are a few examples done by the illusion makeup megastar, Mimi Choi.




As for the technique, well to master this - you have to get your drawing going strong. And for that you must get these art basics under your belt to understand how to construct a look that would be a riddle in itself. We handpicked 3 art techniques that will allow you to unleash your creative genius.



Rule #1 - Drawing in perspective



Perspective can be a tricky tool to master, but necessary to create a believable 3D painting, landscape or graphic illusion. It is all based on a vanishing point theory where things appear bigger up close and smaller when far away, vanishing at some point. We all view the world from some point and our vanishing point differs from where we stand - that’s why we can see different objects on the horizon when our eye level position differs.





What does this mean in illusion makeup? If you’re doing a vanishing point based illusion, it’s not that difficult. First, you’ve got to set up your eye level or camera (spectator) for the final result. Then determine the vanishing point on your face and apply the perspective rule when painting your look.


To master the perspective, however, first practise on paper working with 1, 2 or 3 vanishing points and then recreate your drawings on the face. For some people understanding of perspective comes quite naturally, others have to practise first.




However, to point out the not so obvious - MUA's also practise perspective perspective doing everyday makeup, e.g. doing eyebrows or drawing wings, although it is much easier since done in 2D:


Rule #2 - Positive and negative space



As makeup artists, you all know that contrast can be your biggest asset bringing some things forward and hiding them. However, in commercial makeup we usually stick to either brightening or shading. Illusion employs both: using negative and positive space to create different shapes at once. A simple example is the classic faces vs. vase image:




Here the image uses both - black and white to create shape and two sets of shapes. However, in painting illusion works, it is not always as straightforward, more like understanding both spaces will help to create a more drastic appearance or disappearance effect in your look:




And in every day makeup makeup artists use the same methods then contouring and shaping the face:




Tip when creating illusion: when planning your look, determine where will be your positive and negative spaces and how will they function, what will be their purpose exactly, that way you'll set up for a quality trick of the eye.

Rule #3 - Shading



First we drew things in perspective, when outlined and filled in our negative and positive spaces, what comes next?! Shading of course! It’s absolutely necessary to elevate your illusion to next level - creating shadows and depth while highlighting and elevating the high points! Seems familiar?! I bet it does, since that’s what makeup is all about. However, this technique transferred to illusion creates that mind swirling 3D illusion effect:




Shading techniques are mostly used doing eye makeup and blending the contours of the face:




Feel ready to practise?! I bet you are! But before making that jump, check out this prep plan we created to make your illusion looks appear out of this world:



Get plenty from the illusion makeup genius Mimi Choi or @Mimles!

This girl has done it all - made the whole world take a double look at her work and turned her art into a thriving business. Just see what see had to say during this EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:



#1 Let’s start from the beginning - what drove you to pick up illusion makeup? It’s rather a risky direction, especially if you’re just starting out: Was it a natural thing for you or did you have to go through the process of trying out different makeup styles and realising that this was your thing after all?

I discovered illusion makeup during the first month of makeup school. For Halloween, I decided to try out a cracked face look that I had seen online previously. After posting my look on Instagram, I received a lot of positive feedback which encouraged me to continue exploring the genre. Since then, my portfolio has evolved into what it is today. Before I became a makeup artist, I would often paint intricate and creative details on my nails as a hobby and thinking back now, I believe that I would have discovered the illusion style eventually. I've always enjoyed doing things outside of the box and am proud to have been able to popularize this style of artistry. There is nothing more rewarding than discovering your own style and this is something that I like to encourage my students to do.


#2 Do you regard your artistry as a business, hobby, outlet or all of the above: how would you describe it’s role in your life? Is it still thrilling everyday?

My makeup started out as an outlet and has since evolved into a hobby and business. When I was a preschool teacher, I would doodle and paint on my nails during my time off as a way to express myself. Since graduating from makeup school, I'm fortunate that I am able to turn my hobby into a business. Today, it plays a huge role in both my life and my husband's life who is also my business partner. I am still passionate about makeup and get a rush every time I am able to share a look. This is something that I don't think will ever change.


#3 Do you sometimes struggle with lack of creativity and how do you deal with it?

Fortunately, I have not really struggled with a lack of creativity and I hope that never happens to me! I am constantly inspired by my travels, experiences, and sleep paralysis. If anything, I don't have enough time to create everything that I want!


#4 If I asked you to tell which of your works was the most difficult to create, which would you choose and why?

The most difficult looks for me are the ones that take the most amount of time. I've spent 10 hours painting an intricate wood carving look on my face and also a shelf look in which I included my favourite objects that represented the most important things in my life. I am always working on my patience and ability to sit through looks and 10 hours is about my limit at the moment.


#5 What are the 3 makeup products that none of your works would be done without?

First and foremost, I would include the Mimi Choi Illusion palette which I created with Mehron. It includes all of my essential water-based paints, matte shading shadows, and various foundations all of which are vital to creating an impactful illusion. I also have to include Kevyn Aucoin skin enhancers in my kit as they are my favourite combination of concealer and foundation which provide a stable base and an airbrushed look. Finally, I can't live without Embryolisse lait creme which is a great primer and keeps my face soft and smooth.


#6 What do you think is the best thing about your career and what is the worst? Why?

The best thing about my work is that I get to combine my loves for makeup, teaching, and travelling while being able to share these experiences with my husband. The worst part of what I do is not having enough hours in the day to paint all of the ideas that are swimming in my head! Honestly, there are not many negatives about what I've chosen to do. I am so thankful to have this opportunity to make a living from my passion and I love every aspect of it.


#7 What are you looking forward to most when joining The Makeup Lovers?

I am excited to be joining a group of like-minded creatives who want to share their artistry. As I mentioned earlier, teaching is one of my passions and although it would have been amazing to meet my students in person, I am appreciative of The Makeup Lovers for setting up this online course so that we can continue to share our art during this difficult time. While everyone is stuck at home, it is a great opportunity to learn something new and to try different things!


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