Monday, October 5, 2009


Since posting "Redfield's Make-Up Morgue", I've been asked just what a make-up morgue is.

Simply, it's any collection of photos that help a make-up artist or actor design and execute their make-ups. Back in the early newspaper days, a photo morgue was the collection of photos a paper might keep on hand to illustrate stories.

Corson suggested that the collection be kept in a standard, accordion-style file folder, labeling sections to reflect the collection ("old age", "beards", fantasy make-ups", etc.) Photos could be taken from wherever you found them--newspapers, magazines, or photos you took yourself for reference.

My "morgue" eventually grew in size and moved to a metal filing cabinet, not just because I accumulated a great collection of faces for make-up inspiration, but because I found I was also using the collection as a photo resource for my drawing and painting.

Nowadays, almost any image can be found on the Internet, and some people keep there material on a computer. But the old-fashioned, hard copy way is still best for me, because I can take the pictures and info I need with me where ever I go, and I don't worry about getting make-up on the laptop!

The phrase "make-up morgue" comes from Richard Corson's book STAGE MAKE-UP, the best make-up book ever published. My first edition of Corson's book was an early edition I found at a used bookstore. All of the photos were in black and white, but the book provided so many tips and techniques that I quickly wore it out. I bought my next edition in college as a theater major (for around forty dollars, as I remember) and wore that one out, too.

Now in its 10th edition, with new material added by additional authors James Glavan and Beverly Gore Norcross supplementing Corson's original text and updated photos, can be found at

1 comment:

  1. I recently discovered a morgue that I made a decade ago or so in a spiral bound blank book. Even though I trade in words (mostly, although I've since branched into professional screenwriting), I'm visually stimulated and this was a place where I could keep all the odd magazine photos, postcards and such that I'd run across over the years.