Makeup, props and costumes help set the stage for a theatrical production. After a dramatic fight scene, one or more of the actors may need a black eye to sell the realism of the fight to the audience. Theatrical makeup can help the actor achieve a realistic injury. A genuine black eye, or ecchymosis, occurs when trauma to the face causes bruising and swelling around the eye. Reproducing swelling accurately requires theatrical appliances, but for quick stage makeup or a costume you plan to wear for hours, you can mimic the look of swollen, bruised eyes with cosmetics.
Set your fist gently against the eye that you intend to blacken with theatrical makeup. A real fist will give you accurate references for the impact points -- the parts of your underlying bone structure that would take the force of a hit to the face. Note where your hand touches.
Sweep a layer of plum theatrical makeup under your eye with your fingertip. Work from the inner corner to the outer corner; this will leave the thickest application near the inner edge of your eye and gradually fade the makeup out toward the outer corner. Keep the makeup above the rim of your cheekbone where the tissue is soft.
Touch up areas that need more plum makeup with the edge of your finger. The heat of your finger will melt the oily theatrical makeup and blend it into your skin as you apply it, so continue building the plum makeup until you achieve a bruiselike color at your inner eyelid.
Work the dark plum makeup into the outer corner of the crease of your upper eyelid. A real black eye causes bruising of the soft tissues on both your upper and lower lids, so blend the makeup onto your upper lid below the crease.
Apply red makeup to the outer corner of your eye, and pat it with a fingertip to blend it. The red makeup enhances the illusion of swollen, angry skin. Touches of red should be subtle and blend with the purple bruise hue you've applied around your eye.
Pat olive green theatrical makeup lightly around the edges of the false bruising to give the illusion of a black eye that's beginning to fade. If you had a real black eye, your skin would take on greenish and yellowish tones where the bruising was about to disappear, and that's what you'd mimic with the green theatrical makeup. Skip this step if you want a fresher-looking black eye.
Apply yellow makeup to the impact points around your eye where the bone is most prominent. For most faces, those points are the outer brow bone, the upper cheekbone and the bridge of the nose. The pale hue of the makeup also gives the illusion of swelling in those areas.
Dampen a makeup sponge, and pat the makeup to blend it thoroughly where two colors meet. Leave a fairly sharp line of demarcation under your eye between the unbruised skin of your cheek and the thin, delicate skin of your eye socket. Real black eyes usually exhibit a sharp delineation between undereye bruising in the socket and the healthy tissue of the cheek.
Dust the makeup with a light coating of translucent powder to set it in place and reduce shine.
Choose makeup colors that resemble the color your skin turns when you bruise. Darker skin tones may need a more-brownish plum, while lighter complexions may look more-realistically bruised with a reddish plum hue. If your black eye doesn't look sufficiently dark after you've applied powder, add more plum makeup and powder until you're satisfied with the color. Add abrasions with the red makeup if the fictitious wound is fresh.
Avoid getting theatrical makeup in your eyes. The greasy cosmetics can irritate your eyes or form a blurry film until your tear ducts wash the surface of your eye.