Finally, The Cel Shading Beauty Tutorial You've All Been Waiting For

In Depth

NOTE 1: You’ll wanna wear a lower cut shirt for this look; the lines on your neck and collarbones really help sell the cel shade effect more than anything you do to your face. Plus, you can give yourself cartoon boobs!

NOTE 2: This is a really good look to attempt with a steady-­handed and/or patient and persistent buddy. Makes the application way easier, and then you can hang out together and stare at people like this:

That said, it is TOTALLY possible to cel shade yourself! You just have to make extra silly faces at yourself in the mirror to compensate for the lack of group-­sourced giddiness. Let’s go!

First, choose a flat matte eyeshadow color— save the shimmer for tomorrow! You can apply with a small brush or use my very favorite damp Q-tip technique, just make sure it’s even and opaque. Define the edges of the color with (relatively) hard lines. NO BLENDING ALLOWED.

Eyeliner is a must. (Sidenote: God bless the Milli commenter who suggested I get a telescoping magnifying mirror. That thing has changed my life!)

Y’all know how to work mascara. Then, white liner for your lower waterline. Don’t injure yourself trying to make the white liner visible—it’s there! It just shows up better in some lighting scenarios than others. Not speaking from personal experience or anything…

Line the underside of your lower lashline with black pencil. Cartoon eyes, see?


Eyebrow time. Unless your brows are black, in which case you can leave ‘em be or accent them with blue, choose a flat eyeshadow color that approximates your hair color but more obviously. Use an angled brush (and a little water if need be) and paint over those things.

Then outline ‘em with black.

Now the preliminary part’s done and we’re onto the fun stuff! Look at yourself in the mirror for a minute. Make some faces. If you were a cartoon, what would your resting expression look like?

I’m a smirker, so I want to pick out a few of the lines my face makes when I leer at somebody and emphasize them.

Start out by drawing lines in the creases of your eyelids and move out and down from there. There aren’t typically too many lines on the face of a cel shaded human character at any given time, so be choosy. It tends to look better if you alternate the lines on either side of your face—if you put a line on one side of your nose, line the little dip in your upper lip in the opposite direction, and so forth. Line your jaw, and give yourself a little line on each cheekbone. If you screw up, no big! Dampen a Q-tip with eye makeup remover and erase the line you don’t like, then redraw.

When you get to your neck, stop and take one of those selfies where you’re trying to hold your shoulders back while reaching out to hold the phone and push the camera button at the same time: makes a perfect guide for your neck lines. Don’t neglect your collarbones, and don’t stress yourself too much about aligning your drawing perfectly with your actual anatomy. DON’T forget to give yourself some sweet fake cleavage!

Wanna learn something actually semi­-practical from Too Much, Girl? Get your hands on two blush shades that are sort of in the same color family, one darker and one lighter. (Yes, I realize my selections are like, orange and very pinky blue­-red, but they both said “red” on the package so I am at peace with my soul.)

Put the darker shade on the cheekboney part of your cheek, like so:

Put the lighter brighter shade in a circular shape on the apple of your cheek.

I don’t know WHY this works, but it does—putting your blush on this way gives a really convincing subtle contour that makes you look like you have cheekbones of death in photos but doesn’t leave you walking around with brown streaks on your face IRL. Take this knowledge and do with it what you will!

For comic­face contour, you need a color that you most likely wouldn’t wear in life—blue really works for my skin tone. Pile it on around your hairline, under your cheekbones, under your jaw, on the sides of your neck and along your drawn­-on neck and collarbone lines. I used two shades, a turquoise blue slightly darker than my eyeshadow, and a darker blue for the hollow of my throat.

Don’t forget your boobs!

LIPS!! Slap on a bright matte shade of your choosing (red, obviously), then draw a couple of lopsided black lines on the edges to 2D-­ify your mouth.

Optional: if you want to get TOO too much (and who doesn’t?), grab some mascara and–

Wait, scratch that. This was a totally terrible idea: messy, unpleasant, just…don’t do it. There must be a better way to achieve this same effect that I just haven’t thought of yet. Perhaps…actual hair product? Yeah, that would probably be better. Anyway, I used mascara to put several black streaks in my hair. It looked cool when it was done! I am never going to do it again. On the upside, I used regular non­waterproof mascara and it washed out pretty easily.

Look at you, toon! Are you ready for that 2D life, or is it ready for YOU?

The real world is never ready for you. Be warned, if you wear this makeup out into the wild, your life may rapidly devolve into a series of zany still frames and comic mishaps.

Jennifer Culp is an artist, writer, and accomplished procrastinator. Her work has been published on The Hairpin, The Toast, and The Mary Sue, and she is the founder and co-editor of Gamervescent.

I always make Spotify playlists to listen to while I work at being Too Much, so if you want to get the full demented trapped-in-the-mirror Too Much experience, feel free to listen here.

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