Shannon Fennell's Blog

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Book Review: Fantasy Makeup by Becstar Anthony

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I received my copy of Becstar Anthony’s book, Fantasy Makeup, in the mail yesterday.

Rebecca “Becstar” Anthony is a YouTube star in face painting circles.  I have not actually watched any of her YouTube tutorials (I choose not to watch ANY tutorials) but have seen her work in Illusion Magazine (she was the cover artist of issue #11) and other images floating around the internet.  She also teaches workshops around her home country of Australia.

And, of course, I checked her website and Facebook too!  She does beautiful work.

She has just released her first self-published book and is selling it through her website. As I am a book person – I love to look at print photos, the smooth glossy paper, the smell… er, ahem… I decided to order a copy for myself.

The price was on the high side considering the size and content:  AUS $29.99 + $5 worldwide shipping = $34.99 which converted to almost $40 CAD for me.  The book contains 13 designs on 32 pages (including covers) on glossy paper with cardboard covers, coil-bound.  Compare that to the Nick & Brian’s (Wolfe) Faces of Fantasy book which has 15 designs on 32 pages, all on cardstock, coil-bound which sells for $15.00 CAD… that is a HUGE difference.  Granted Becs’ book has written instructions and some technique information at the front but if looking at number of designs vs cost it is about the most expensive book out there for face painting designs.

I know that self-publishing is a hugely expensive endeavour – most people don’t have the capital to invest in a print run big enough to keep the cost in the $15 range (usually 10,000 copies) so I know the price is higher to cover her costs.

My first observation is about the cover image (shown above) of the blue and white sugar skull which is what she has called a “bonus feature” which is the last design shown in the book.  She refers to it as “bonus theatrical makeup look”.  As a professional theatre make-up artist I have to take issue with calling this design, which is absolutely spectacular by the way, theatrical.  This design would never read on stage… the details are too fine, too subtle and the impact of the bling would be completely lost in the distance from the actor to the audience.  The products she used and described in her step-by-step are professional grade theatrical brands which I can only assume is why she has called this a “theatrical make-up look” as it has been done WITH theatrical cosmetics.

Each of the 13 designs are shown in five step-by-step photos with very brief written instructions under the first four photos.  The brands and colours of the products used are noted at the top and Becs has also included a photo of the specific paints used, which in all but two designs, include split cakes.  This is helpful for painters, I think, so that we can choose a similar colour if we don’t have the one listed.

In looking at the designs included in this book I would classify it as an intermediate level.  This is due to the complexity of Becs’ line work and details.  While most of the designs are relatively simple in that they are not extensive full-faces (in fact there are only two full-face designs out of the thirteen in the  book) the designs she has provided on have a lot going on.

Most of the line work demonstrated is very skilled, and beginner face painters would require a lot of practise to be able to emulate the exquisite detail Becs has shown.  While there are written instructions they are not specific about which brush was used in her examples or what type of brush technique was used – this information is important to beginners.  Intermediate level painters will be able to assess what is required by looking at the results.

Personally, I found the selection of designs rather repetitive.  There are: two butterflies, two brow designs, a one-side eye design which is butterfly-ish in shape and style,  two forehead/eye designs, two asymmetrical butterfly-ish eye designs – all well done but very similar in general shape and style – and also a one-stroke dragon (shown on an arm and then on a back in the final photo), a full-face tiger and the full-face sugar skull.

While the designs are similar, very similar, Becs does use a variety of colours and different brush strokes within them.  All are beautiful and extremely well done… I just would have liked more variety in the choice of designs, particularly for the cost of the book.  All the designs are on females, and in looking at them, there are three that I would call unisex – bat brow, dragon and tiger.

The designs provided in this book are beautiful, and with some practise of the detailed brush work, most face painters should be able to use them on the job with great results.  With the techniques mastered most should be doable in under five minutes.  If you are a raw beginner it will take some time to get to this skill level.  But as an inspirational tool this book will deliver as it does make you want to try to get the same results yourself.

The title is Fantasy Makeup but it doesn’t really demonstrate that in my opinion, except for the cover design. Something like “Glamour-Eyes” would have been more descriptive of the content which is 75% eye designs.

If you are a fan of Becstar you probably will love this book.  I like the book, but, for my money I would have preferred a wider selection of designs or ideas and a little more content, but nonetheless, it is a nice addition to my library.

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7 thoughts on “Book Review: Fantasy Makeup by Becstar Anthony

  1. Many thanks to both Shannon and Bec for pointing out pros and cons of this book. I’m a fan and as I live in Italy and won’t have the possibility to take part to one of Bec’s class I’ll almost surely buy her book.

  2. I Have Bec’s book and I have to say that for me it has been more than helpful. I am a beginner face painter (4 months only) and her book has given me something to work towards. Yes a couple of designs are a little more than I can achieve perfectly at the moment, but that is what the book is for….. for learning…..The brush strokes she shows at the front of the book have helped me to get my designs looking better than ever. I will also add that I have bought a couple other books ‘online’ and paid up to $25.00 AUD only to have to spend another $20.00 to get it printed myself and bound. (my choice) , so for the dollars I think Bec’s book is worth every cent….

  3. thanks for your review shannon.

    i must defend some things that have been said as it is only fair.

    the books price is in line with most face painting books in Australia.
    nick and brians book retails for the same price along with many other books. so in AUSTRALIA it is in the same price range. Always remember what may be in your country is not going to be the same in another.

    I feel uncomfortable that your would say the book is repetitive, that may be your opinion, but I worked long and hard to ensure it was unique and showed different designs. You say things like 2 brow designs etc, well yes there is only so much area of a face to work on so of course the use of the same area to showcase a design will inevitably occur.

    The techniques and brush strokes are shown at the start of the book – you have to keep in mind you can only fit so much on each page so instead of showing every single step on each page it was easier to show all techniques at the start of the book & save space on each page. Some people prefer each step on each page and some dont, so what may work for one person doesnt for another – i cant control that.

    The book was VERY expensive to produce, including production, drafts, editing etc, ……. I also spent more on things like wirebound, heavier paper, gloss print, which was a majority decision (public survey) and i did allot of research before I even started on this book. All These extra’s would make the book would last a long time compared to glued/stapled book which many said had fallen apart easily.

    My work is primarily on Girls and that is reflected in the book, i never claimed anything else.

    This book is a detailed book, is it suitable for all levels of artists but of course it shows more intermediate and advanced techniques.

    The sugar skull is a theatrical makeup look, it uses both face painting and makeup, I have done this look for stage, yes granted it would be less detailed on stage but I am not going to show less in a book am I.

    Anyway I thought i would put my 2 bob in, hopefully that helps with my side of things.

    Thanks
    Becstar xo

  4. Thanks Shannon,

    This was a helpful review.
    I’ll take a book over online videos any day. A book goes anywhere, perfect as a learning tool.
    Online resource may seem to be anywhere these days – but that’s not really the case.

    Sweet Loretta
    http://sweet-loretta.com
    http://thepaintednavel.com

  5. Great review Shannon. Thank you!!! I had asked Bescstar (via Facebook) several weeks ago about the book and it’s contents and received very limited information, so it’s nice to read a 3rd party’s opinion on a product.

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