The process of designing the hair and make up for the ‘Bette and Joan’ poster was a twofold challenge. Not only to make Vic and Kate look like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford but also to create the right angles and shadows for the black and white effect of the poster.
The first thing I did was to research and study Bette and Joan’s faces, trying to pin point the main characteristics, bone structure and most obvious facial features.
I decided that I needed to concentrate on both ‘contrast’ (light and shade) and ‘obvious differences’ (dominant facial features).
After looking at literally, hundreds of old photographs of the two protagonists using Pinterest and YouTube as my sources, I quite quickly realised that the eyebrows, eyes, lips and skin contouring were things that I could exaggerate in the make up to show their unique qualities.
Joan Crawford’s famous bold eyebrows were her most recognisable feature which could be emphasised through makeup so that most people would instantly get that it was ‘her’, so that was great.
Bette’s eyes are obviously, what first come to mind when one thinks of Davis. Luckily the way ‘Baby Jane’s’ make up was portrayed in the film ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’, uses black smudged eye liner all around her eyes which frames them magnificently. Although Vic’s eye shape is not the same as Bette Davis, the heavy black eyeliner brings out her eyes in the black and white photo enough to make them look piercing and prominent in contrast to Kate’s eyes which have not been lined on the lower lid making ‘Joan’s eyes’ look smaller in comparison.
Both Bette and Joan have exaggerated lips in most of the photographs that I studied. The difference being that Joan loved to present herself as ‘beautiful’ and Bette wanted to look ugly’ for the role of Baby Jane, so I could play with that.
You will see from the finished poster that both Vic and Kate have large ‘over lined’ lips in dark toned lipstick. However, I deliberately made Bette’s lip over lining much more obvious and therefore less attractive. This shows the dramatic difference between the two mouths and focusing on the menacing aspect of the madness of ‘Baby Jane’ compared to her victim ‘Blanche’.
I was quite amused to read during my research that Joan Crawford had to be told by the director to ‘stop making herself look more and more beautiful’ during the shooting of the film!
Finally, I made a conscious decision to contour Vic’s face extremely boldly due to the very pale (almost white) skin tone that Baby Jane’s character has. Contouring is very effective at creating an illusion of a change in face shape, but also emphasizes the ominous shadows for the desired image of the poster. This was also intentional in helping the photo editing process when transferring the shot into black and white.
I am delighted with the final poster and kudos to Rebecca Cockcroft for her talented photography.