The Making Of The Making It Up Beauty Series

The Making Of The Making It Up Beauty Series

It's no secret that we creatives are often introverted, or simply don't know the first thing about self-promotion. Thus there are thousands and thousands of brilliant talents out there that very few have discovered. I have been on a mission of finding such gems and helping them expose their work to the worldwide online photography and digital imagery communities. And today I would like to share some beautiful and fun images and inspiration from Spain with you.

I have been blessed to meet so many incredibly creative and talented people from all over the world in our little Retouching Academy community group in the past month. Dozens, if not hundreds, of Before and After images are shared every day, and I keep an eye out for the talents whose work really stands out. Not so long ago I saw a set of images where the author placed tiny miniature figures into closeup Beauty shots, and since I am a huge fan of Beauty photography, I fell in love with them right away.

His name is Juan Sánchez Castillo and he lives and works in Murcia, Spain. I've reached out to Juan and asked him to share with us the entire creation process of his 'Making It Up' series. I hope you find it as inspiring as I have.



Juan Sánchez Castillo: Making It Up

My wife loves miniature figures. She used to have whole doll houses filled with little figurines and furniture. And I really love Beauty and Fashion photography. Whenever I find creative images of miniature figures on the internet I always have to show them to her. With our two hobbies combined, my collection of inspirational images became the beginning of this project.

I came across several creative photography projects with miniature figures placed into landscapes and photographed with female bodies. My own creative project idea was then born in my mind. I have been longing to shoot some Beauty images, but make them look like landscapes and place miniature figures into them.


Planning The Shoot

I was planning this shoot for a long time, over six months to be exact. I always start working on a project by creating a secret board on Pinterest and share it with my team (makeup artist, model and assistant). I started searching for some H0 scale figurines on the internet and planning four scenes, which all had to be photographed in one shoot.

I shared the make up ideas I liked with my makeup artist, and together we decided which ones would work better for every scene. Also, in our reference Pinboard I usually share all of the images that inspired me with the team - the make up, concept, poses shots, etc. - to ensure our creativity and inspiration are on the same page.

The scene order I decided, was:

- Painters at Work
- Faceclimbers
- Playing in the Snow
- The Gardener

We decided to start with the scenes in which the make up was easier to clean up and end it with the difficult shots (snow and grass).

The shoot

We got together for the shoot early in the morning. While the makeup artist was doing her part of the job, my assistant and I prepared the lighting for the first scene.



We started with the lip totally covered with make up, but later we decided to remove part of the make up to simulate the painter's work in progress.



The lighting was composed of two monolights with umbrellas in the background, a beauty dish with diffuser as a main light and an octabox as fill.


It was a bit difficult to put the two figures in the correct position - any slight movement would make them fall down. In order to keep one of the painters still, we glued a piece of paper (2 cm) to his shoes. This allowed us to keep him put in the correct position, as I played around with the depth of field for a while.


In this scene we used special glue for skin (mastic) on the painters' feet to glue one onto the model's nail and the other one onto the top of her finger. It was a little difficult to guide the model into the correct position because we needed precise movement.

We used an octabox as the main light and an a reflector as fill.




We tried different figures and different positions in this next shot, and played around with two and three figures. We concluded that three climbers was the best choice - they were placed as tips of a triangle, which worked very well visually.

I really love the makeup artist's work on this one.



Lighting was one octabox with grid as main light on the right, and a reflector on the left to fill in the shadows.





We had a tree, snow, and several figures to play with, and started making compositions, looking to find the best placement for the tree. After all we decided the best scene was created when the boy with the snow ball was placed onto the bridge of the nose and the other two were riding a sled down the cheek.

When everything was ready for the shoot, we glued the figures in their positions and spread an even layer of snow powder with a strainer. And while I was shooting, the makeup artist continued sifting the snow powder from above the frame. It was quite difficult to work with the powder. The model had to keep her eyes shut because of it, and we had to pause between shots to allow her to take a breath of some clean air.

We also had to cover the entire place with bedding sheets in order to avoid my wife killing me after the shoot!



Our lighting was just a single octabox with grid above the model's face.

The downside of playing with powdery snow is that after the shoot you have to clean up... a lot. But we shared a few giggles when I appeared with a vacuum cleaner to remove the snow.

2 BTS final



I wanted a straight line of green coverage on the model's face for this shot, and the makeup artist did a very good job. Before we started sifting 'the grass' (it is an ornamental lawn, which is basically just short green fibers) we covered up the clean part of her face. We used a strainer again in order to obtain an even layer of 'grass'. Then glued the gardener in the correct position on the face.


Our lighting was an octabox with grid from above, and a beauty dish with diffuser behind the model. By placing an additional light source behind the model my intention was to obtain a line of rim light and separate the dark 'grassy' part of the face from the background.

This fun and beautiful series of images was only possible thanks to the great team:

Model: Cristina Martínez
Make up: Lidia Martínez (Agory Make Up Art)
Photography: Juan Sánchez Castillo
Assistant: Abel Belmonte

Thank you all for reading, I hope you liked our project!



To see more of Juan's work, feel free to check out his:
Facebook: Juan Sánchez Castillo - Photographer

Julia Kuzmenko McKim's picture

Julia is a Los Angeles based internationally published Beauty & Fashion photographer, digital artist, retoucher and educator. An International College of Professional Photography (Melbourne, Australia) graduate. Retouching Academy founder and Editor-in-Chief.

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This is the type of images that I look at and think to myself: "I wish I shot this!" :)

would love to see BTS of "the Gardener" segment to get a closer look at the lawn/grass in the making :) Also, how much retouching was done?
Overall, just AMAZING AMAZING work!! very well done!!

This artwork was very very VERY!!!Well done Juan!!!! A true inspiration, yes you are!! I will be looking out for this series on flipboard, etc.... :-) o_O :-O

Jenny, I will actually post the retouching side of this project on Retouching Academy blog sometime next week.

This is a killer ideas with excellent execution. Well done as usual Julia!

Model: Cristina Martínez
Make up: Lidia Martínez (Agory Make Up Art)
Photography: Juan Sánchez Castillo
Assistant: Abel Belmonte

Not mine. I wish it was ;)

so cool!

Where's Bert's incredulous compliments of Julia when you need one?!?

Not my work - I don't deserve any compliments here.. well, other than making this post happen :)

Beautiful work Juan! As Julia says, I wish I shot this ;-) Good find, Julia!


This series is awesome! Very creative and well executed, definatly a lot of thinking went into this.

Absolutely wonderful stuff.