Swatch Styling Makeup Swatches

Swatch Styling: How to Create Makeup Swatches for Photography

Last updated on: 2019


People love a good smear. There are few things more satisfying than seeing a clean swatch of your favorite products. Or even multiple swatches! Swatches are trending in the beauty world, both in photo and video content. There are some people that have a whole job on set dedicated to creating swatches of the featured product. But while prop and product styling is an art, there are everyday tricks that have helped me having to do my own product styling.

Here are some tips and tricks on how to create makeup swatches for photography that look editorial and effortless.

Supplies Needed for Swatch Styling

As far as tools go, I’ve found that everyone has their own preferences. Keep in mind that your tool will vary by what product you’re trying to style, but here are some tried and true tools to generally have on hand:

  • Transparencies (like the ones for projectors, I like the ones that are meant to write on)
  • Palette knives (different shapes and sizes)
  • Plastic paint
  • Hot glue gun
  • Rubber gloves and finger cots
  • Painter’s tape
  • Toothpicks

Photos via Kiss NY Pro

First Timers

A common misconception is that you’ll get your swatch right on the first try you might, but you probably won’t. Give yourself time and space to practice swatching out the product, mixing it around and seeing how the texture looks at its best. Make sure you give yourself lots of space to work, and that all clothing and furniture is properly protected.

Photos via MUA

Be Transparent

Transparencies are a fun tool to work on because they give more flexibility as far as the background is concerned. If the way you set up your shot initially isn’t working, it’s pretty easy to switch out the background for a different color or texture. This also enables you to raise the styled product and get a cool shadow or levitate it in the photo.

Photos via Jafra

The Aftermath

Photoshop is a great tool to clean up tiny imperfections with your swatch, but I encourage you to not be dependent on the post production for your finished product. It’s always better to get the photo right the first time, rather than trying to fix a mistake in post. The product will always look better when it’s styled out nicely instead of manipulated digitally. Making another smudge will give you more practice as well!

Styling can make or break a shot. Now that you’ve got our best tips for creating makeup swatches, it’s time to experiment and see what happens with your photos and videos!

Interested in more photography tips? Check out our Photography section to learn more!

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Alicia is a photographer at Taylor & Pond. When she's not shooting photos, she likes drinking coffee and baking.