Some ancient theatrical traditions have relied on masks for the creation of visual characters; others have relied on makeup for the same purpose.
Ancient Greek theatre was masked, but later European theatre usually used stage makeup to create characters, heighten facial features, and compensate the effects of stage lighting absence. Until the twentieth century, performers were expected to do their own makeup, as they were expected to supply their own stage costumes. The professional theatrical makeup artist is a modern phenomenon, as is the theatrical costume designer.
Theatrical makeup is inseparable from the act of performance itself. The aim Scenic makeup of theatrical makeup is to delineate and enhance the role of a character and to give performers an additional tool for conveying the characters being performed. Stage makeup is often used to create visual stereotypes that will be readily understood by the audience. Stage makeup is usually much more colourful and graphic than ordinary cosmetic makeup. When viewed closely, it can seem excessive and exaggerated, but it works when the performer is on stage being seen at a distance by the audience. Theatrical makeup itself is also heavier, denser, and more strongly coloured than ordinary cosmetics.
For many performers, the act Scenic makeup of putting on makeup is an important part of the ritual of preparing for a performance; it allows the performer to move psychologically into the role of the character as the makeup is being applied.
Makeup artists are employed today in a variety of roles, and they often specialize in, for example, theatrical makeup, cinema makeup, fashion photography and runway makeup, or special effects. They typically require years of training and practice to perfect their skills. Social effects makeup is particularly prominent in the world of film, but has also played an important role in the success of Scenic makeup many popular Broadway productions.
By the early twenty-first century makeup in different theatrical and fashion genres began to cross previously rigid barriers. The world of film, especially in special effects, has had a profound impact on the development of new techniques of stage makeup, and today theatrical makeup shows up regularly on fashion catwalks as well. Recent fashion shows by Dior and Givenchy, for example, have been notable for their strong sense of theatre. Fashion makeup artists have begun to borrow liberally techniques from traditional stage makeup to create striking new designs. Meanwhile, theatrical makeup is enriched Scenic makeup by new developments in film, fashion, photography and other media.