If you’re a member of Goulet Nation, or if you follow me on Instagram, there’s a good chance you know about my Makeup Monday posts. On any Monday that I have the time to do so, I match my makeup to a pen. Usually a pen I own, occasionally a pen I want, sometimes one of NibsAndFlourishes beautiful photos.
At some point, someone on Goulet Nation called it fountain pen cosplay. While I still wish people a happy Makeup Monday, I tend to think of the matching by that term. Over the years that I’ve been “cosplaying” as fountain pens, I can’t count the number of times someone has requested that I teach a class or write a post. So, I’m finally doing so. Having said that, I’ve tried to write this post so many times. Never have I started a post as many times as I have this one. But, I think I’ve got it figured out now.
Be aware, this post is really long. I’ve added links so you can pop straight down to any section that interests you if you don’t want to read the whole thing.
Background and Resources
I’m not going to cover anything about how to do makeup. If you are a beginner, or if you’d like some additional information, check out the playlist I’ve put together. I spent quite a bit of time looking for good reference videos. In case you don’t want to watch all of the videos, check out the brief description below of what each video covers.
Note: The videos on this playlist are all at least a year old. I chose them for the information they impart, not for you to use them as a shopping list. While there is a chance that specific products mentioned are still available, there is also a good chance they aren’t.
- Ultimate Makeup Brushes Guide! 38 Makeup Brushes and Their Uses: A quick overview of how to use brushes of various shapes. Eye brushes start at 1:46.
- Eye Makeup Brushes That Will Transform YOUR Eyeshadow: An overview of essential eyeshadow brush shapes and how to use them.
- Um I’m sorry but I think you need these…: The creator’s 5 favorite eyeshadow brush shapes and why she feels they’re essential.
- These are my essential eyeshadow blending brushes: An overview of eyeshadow blending brushes and their uses.
- The tiny eye brushes everyone needs: An overview of eyeshadow detail brushes and their uses.
- Why Pros Use Natural And Synthetic Makeup Brushes: An overview of the differences between natural hair and synthetic bristle brushes.
- Makeup Brush University | Synthetic vs Natural Hair | Suggested Use: An in-depth video on synthetic bristle versus natural hair brushes.
- Do your eyeshadow for YOUR eye shape: A discussion on embracing your eye anatomy and working with eyeshadow for your eye shape.
- Contour your eyes with colorful eyeshadow: A companion to the previous video, covering how to define/enhance your eye shape using eyeshadow.
- Dude eyeshadow placement is WILD: A couple of demonstrations of why eyeshadow is typically applied lightest (inner third and closest to brow) to darkest (outer third and closest to crease).
- How to Change Your Eye Shape: Demonstrations of how to apply eyeshadow to make your eye shape look different.
- Why Your Eyeshadow Looks PATCHY & How To Fix it!: A quick overview of basic eyeshadow blending for everyday eye looks.
- Blending for Beginners | Eyeshadow Blending made easy: A quick overview of blending for a smokey eye look.
- MASTERING the Art of Gradient Eyeshadow Blend!: A “hack” for blending eyeshadow colors together to form a perfect gradient.
- How I Blend Eyeshadow Perfectly: An in-depth tutorial on blending eyeshadows together.
- But like..why isn’t your eyeshadow blending tho?: A companion to the previous video, focused on blending colors together.
- Blending 101: Eyeshadow BLENDING for Beginners + CUT CREASE for Beginners: A different blending technique and a “cut crease” tutorial.
- How To Work With Colorful Eyeshadow | Make ‘Em Pop!: A tutorial on how to make eyeshadow colors appear as bright/bold as possible.
- This One Trick Will Make Any Eye Shadow POP on any Skintone!: An additional trick for making colorful eyeshadow look brighter/bolder.
- Make eyeshadows POP on ANY skintone | PhD in PIGMENT!: A tutorial on how to make eyeshadow look brighter/bolder, regardless of skintone.
- Colorful eyeshadow Do’s and Don’ts: A tutorial on how to blend different colorful eyeshadows together without creating brown.
- How To: 9 Different Ways to Wear Colorful EyeShadows | Easy Beginner Friendly Tutorial: Nine examples of how to make colorful eyeshadow less intimidating.
- How to get into colorful makeup for beginners | 4 easy tutorials: Four examples of how to start incorporating color into your eye makeup looks.
I want to take a moment to touch on tools. Good brushes are important. The best eyeshadow can look terrible when applied with the wrong or a bad quality brush. Conversely, mediocre eyeshadow can look good when used with excellent brushes. You don’t, however, need expensive brushes.
FYI: I’m going to stick with brands I’ve actually used for recommendations. There are a lot of good brushes that are inexpensive. Jessup, for example, available on Amazon, is pretty good, especially for the price — I own this set. If you can spend more, Singe Beauty or Sigma Beauty have excellent brushes. I believe Singe is still selling their brushes as a single set; I’d suggest the basic eye brush set or complete eye brush set from Sigma — if you’re looking for a set. If you have plenty of cash to spare, or want natural hair brushes, Rephr‘s are amazing. With both Sigma and Rephr, wait for sales. Sign up for their newsletters to know when a sale is coming.
I know a lot of people only wash their brushes occasionally, but I prefer to wash my brushes after each look. Sure, it takes a bit more time each day, but, the benefits are that you need less brushes and you never have to worry that you’re accidentally picking up a dirty brush. On the rare occasion that I need a brush for two different colors, I use an off-brand color switch — just do a quick search on Amazon, there are A TON. It’s not great to use often, because it could damage your brushes (especially natural hair brushes), but an occasional use is OK.
OK, enough about brushes, on to eyeshadow. I’m not going to point you to neutral palettes. Those are everywhere and super easy to find. Instead, I want to point you to good colorful palettes. If you don’t already know, not all eyeshadows are created equal. The crap ones are patchy, sheer, and obnoxious to work with.
- Blend Bunny Cosmetics‘ Blends, Surge, and Primal palettes are amazing, especially the matte shadows, and range from $1.30 to $1.65 per shadow.
- Colourpop‘s Fade into Hue and Matte About Hue palettes are great — when they’re in stock — and run you $1.16 per shadow.
- Glamlite has a pretty good formula, and you can often find their stuff at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, especially since they partnered with the stores. They have a fairly wide price range, especially when you consider sale prices, because they have a lot of sales.
- BH Cosmetics has some great colorful palettes, specifically their 16-pan travel series like Trendy in Tokyo and Lost in Los Angeles, that are just over $1 per shadow.
Be careful with Colourpop and BH Cosmetics, though, they also have some duds, so I’d suggest watching reviews.
For the purposes of this post, I want to use a pre-defined set of terms to avoid misunderstandings.
- Upper lid: The space between the crease and the eyebrow
- Crease: Where the skin between the brow and the lashes folds
- Mobile lid: The skin that covers the eye when the eye is closed
- Lower lash line: The skin immediately beneath the lashes under the eye
- Inner corner: The skin immediately around the tear duct. Color in this area often overlaps with the upper lid color.
- Inner third: The area around the eye from the tear duct to the edge of the iris when looking straight ahead
- Middle third: The area around the eye above and below the iris when looking straight ahead
- Outer third: The area around the eye from the edge of the iris to the outer edge of the eyebrow or the outer edge of the eye (whichever extends further) when looking straight ahead
Before I dive into how I do fountain pen cosplay, I want to remind you that with makeup, there are no rules. There are guidelines, perhaps even best practices, but as long as you’re happy, that’s what matters. And if you aren’t, wash it off and try again.
If colorful makeup is new — and perhaps scary — to you, try think of it like clothes for your face. Try it on, and if you aren’t happy, take if off and try something else. If there’s something wrong with clothes you try on, you don’t decide to become a nudist, you accept that that item of clothing isn’t for you and you try different brands and styles. Makeup is the same way; don’t assume you can’t wear colors if the first time you try them doesn’t work out.
Forget the notion that you should wear makeup to make you look prettier. Wear whatever shape, color, and style makes you happy. It doesn’t have to “flatter your features.” It doesn’t have to be your perfect colors. We don’t always dress to flatter; we can dress to be comfortable, to show off our fandoms, or just to make ourselves happy, and the same should be true with makeup.
So, let’s get into how I execute the eyeshadow looks. Like so many things in life, there are many ways to do this. You certainly don’t need to follow my method, I’m merely sharing it for information.
I’m going to focus on eyeshadow-only matches. Trying to get into eyeliner, colored mascaras, or lashes would take far too long.
I tend to use no more than 3 colors each for upper lid and mobile lid. I don’t often apply color to my lower lash line, but I go with 1-3 colors there, when I do. For the mobile lid and lash line, I usually place colors in thirds. So, if using two colors, I would go with 1/3 and 2/3, rather than half and half. I prefer the look of using the lightest color closest to my nose and darker colors as I work my way out toward my ear. Key word, of course, is usually. I do, sometimes, choose to do a half and half look.
With the upper lid, I most often layer from brow down to crease, starting with the lightest color closest to the brow, and darkest color in the crease. However, you can also take the thirds approach like the mobile lid. When I do that, I also place the lightest color closest to my nose and go darker as I work my way out.
While you don’t have to follow this light-to-dark method, you should check out the video Dude eyeshadow placement is WILD for a good explanation and example of why many people follow this guideline.
Left-to-right above you can see examples of: brow to crease (light to dark) upper lid shading, inner third to outer third (light to dark) upper lid shading, three-color mobile lid shadow application, and two thirds/one third mobile lid shadow application.
With placement covered, all that’s left is choosing colors. The more colors your pen has, the harder this can be. On the plus side, you already know how the colors will look together, so you don’t have to wonder if they’ll look good.
I want to say plainly that you don’t have to use every color on the pen to say that your eyeshadow was inspired by a pen. You can work with just the dominant color on the pen, or a color on the pen that really catches the eye.
I can’t discuss every possible look that you could do with the following four pens. But, I hope I can get the creative juices flowing. I’m making sure to include the look as I would do it and a toned down version for anyone who finds colors intimidating.
If I were matching this pen, I’d use all four colors. I’d probably use the purple (4) on my upper lid, making sure it’s only applied lightly, since it’s not a major color on the pen. I’d put the blue (3) on my crease, since, I can build it up to fully opaque and make it look darker than the purple. I’d put the pink on my mobile lid and the white on my inner corner.
A toned down version could be a neutral eye look with a blue and pink on the lower lash line, or a pink applied lightly on the upper lid with a bit of blue in the outer third on the mobile lid.
Mayfair Pens Noldor in Labyrinth Koi
With so many gorgeous oranges, I’d be tempted to only use colors 1-4, ignoring the paler colors. I’d most likely treat the upper and mobile lids as a single entity and work apply light to dark from inner corner to outer third, creating a gradient across the whole eye.
To tone this down, you could use something similar to the main orange (3) on the mobile lid with neutrals on the upper lid, and a pale yellow (5) or cream (6) shimmer on the inner corner.
With pens like this, I often ignore the base color of the pen (1). With the remaining color story, my first thought is to apply the navy blue (3) to my crease and blending it out up my upper lid, then apply gold (2) to my mobile lid with red (4) in the outer third. I might add some black (5) eyeliner. I likely wouldn’t use the silver (6) or pink (7) on my eyes, though I might chose similar colors for my highlight and blush respectively.
A toned down look could have gold on the mobile lid with a navy eyeshadow as a smokey liner or outer third.
This one is really complex. There are multiple options given how many colors are on this one. You could go for a monochromatic look, using only 1-3 (light green (2) on the upper lid, dark green (1) on the crease and greenish yellow (3) on the mobile lid). You could focus on just the colors of the flowers with light pink (8), pink (6), and purple (5) on the upper lid (closest to brow bone and working down to the crease) and red (4) on the mobile lid.
I might consider really pushing the envelope by using almost all the colors. 1, 2, and 3 could go on the upper lid (crease to brow); 4, 5, and 7 could go on the mobile lid (inner to outer third), although I’d need to work with a lighter purple or darker blue; and 8 could go on the inner corner.
I think the easiest toned down look would be to use 1 on the lower lash line or as an eyeliner. You could also use 5 in the crease or 6 or 7 on the outer third.
I realize that colorful eyeshadow can be a bit intimidating to people. So, allow me to give you some examples of how eyeshadow looks can be inspired by a pen, from just a bit of color to going all out.
This is the Franklin-Christoph/Gourmet Pens Shop collaboration, Stars on Sapphire Lake. It’s fairly simple at only two colors, but it’s swirly and shimmery which could make it seem a bit more complex. I’m focusing on the blue ■ and purple ■, ignoring the iridescent shimmer for most of the looks.
Level 1 – Just a Bit of Color
This look doesn’t show up when I’m at full-face zoom level. While the overall look is neutral, notice the bit of blue and purple on my lower lash line. If color is new to you, this might be a good way for you to get started. It’s a gentle nod to the pen.
Level 2 – Colorful Mobile Lid
This is still a pretty toned down look, though not as neutral as level one. I purposely chose shimmers that aren’t as punchy, and didn’t put any color under them to make them more bold. If this is a bit too much color, an alternative would be to apply one of the colors to your mobile lid as an eyeliner, and the other on your lower lash line.
Level 3 – More Color
This one appears much more colorful, since the brown mattes and cream shimmer are gone. by using a color, even one that isn’t very bold, on my upper lid, it really starts looking colorful. The blue shimmer on my mobile lid is more opaque, and therefore more bold, than the level 2 look.
Level 4 – Full Color
I went all out with this one, deciding to have a different color on each upper lid, instead of blending one color into the other. I don’t do this often, but one way to make it work is to ensure that the different colors are the same tone and that your mobile lid color is the same on both eyes. You don’t have to do this, of course, you can have two completely different eye looks, but this method is my favorite way to have an overall cohesive look when the individual eye looks are different.
The colors on my upper lids are bold and opaque, as is the shimmer on my mobile lid. The bright shimmer on the mobile lid represents the shimmer flakes in the material.
To wrap up this post, I’ll leave you with some of my previous fountain pen cosplay / Makeup Monday posts to serve as inspiration to get you started.
If you wanted to make this look less dramatic, you could have copper on the inner third of the mobile lid and wine on the remaining two thirds. While I added eyeliner, you don’t really need to.
Moving on to one that’s a little harder, we’ve got my SmithCrafters Shredded Money Writer Gold Rush. This one has the various greens of United States dollar bills, gold, and some clear areas. You an see how a single pen can inspire vastly different looks.
In the first (left) look, I kept the greens to the upper lid, with the darker green in the crease. Gold, being the predominant color, is on my entire mobile lid. In the second look, I focused on the various shades of gold present, then carried the green over into eyeliner and lipstick.
While this look is less dramatic than the others I’ve shared, you can still tone it down more. The second look with a neutral lip would really change it. Or the first look with just a hint of green in the outer third.
Up next is my Sailor Pro Gear Hello Kitty. With this look, I went for a literal interpretation. It’s easy to see where the inspiration came from, especially since there are only three colors on the pen: red, white, and gold. I also could have continued the two colors onto my mobile lid and added gold eyeliner.
For a less ostentatious look, you could apply color only on the mobile lid, with white, gold, and red applied inner third to outer third. You could also apply white on the inner third, red on the middle and outer thirds, and gold on the inner corner or as eyeliner. For even less color, you could have a gold mobile lid with a hint of red in the outer third and a bit of white in the inner corner.
And finally, this is the Benu Euphoria Forest Pond. For this look, I wanted to capture the feeling of the pen. The various blues on the upper lid are the main pen material colors. The light and middle tone oranges on the mobile lid are the goldfish in the foreground. The iridescent shadow on my inner corner are the flecks of iridescent material throughout the pen. And I added just a hint of green on my lower lash line for the lily pads.
You could tone this one down by focusing on a single element. For example, a neutral look with blue in the outer third or orange in the lower lash line. Your look doesn’t have to have all of the colors to be inspired by a pen.
Or, you could just go all out.
Do you match nails, clothes, watch, or makeup to your pens? Do you think you’ll try fountain pen cosplay? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.