How to manage your set makeup
Tips & Tricks

How to manage your set makeup

Time is of the essence when you're an on-set makeup artist. Save yourself some time by putting together your own personal, mobile-friendly inventory.

As a makeup artist on set, you have to do consistently great work quickly to keep the production moving and the actors looking their best—or worst, depending on the scene. You don’t have time to think about details, track costs, and manage your kit inventory when you’re up to your knuckles in foundations and mattifiers. You have to plan ahead, and Airtable can help you manage every element.

Consider your needs

You need a versatile cosmetic kit for each shoot, but you can’t figure out the exact tools and supplies you need to purchase—or how much they’ll cost—until you’ve defined the specific requirements of the production. Let’s make it easy to manage both of those things with an Airtable base.

The example base embedded above imagines a limited kit for the film *Some Like It Hot*.

We’ll use this base as a starting point to manage your own tools and supplies with ease. Just click the Copy base button above to add it to your Airtable account. If you don’t yet have one, you can sign up for free.

You’ll notice that the first table is called “Characters/Actors.” It contains a bunch of columns (or fields, as Airtable calls them) that keep track of each character, the actor playing that character, and their individual cosmetic needs. This table provides a general overview for a quick look at your work throughout the production with simple single line text, attachment, and linked record fields.

Single line text fields allow you to type in a small amount of text and attachment fields allow you to upload files—which we’ll use for headshot and product photos in this base—but the linked record fields borrow information from the other tables. We’ll see how this works as we move along, but for now take a look at the linked items.

Click on an empty cell in the SFX Supplies Needed column and then click the + button that appears to add an item. You’ll see a couple of wigs and some fake blood. You can add just one of these items or add all three by selecting the one you want first and repeating this process.

Where does this information come from? You’ll find it in the other tables, represented by tabs up at the top of the base. You have a lot already populated for you, but let’s take a look at those tables and find out how they work.

Create your kit and track expenses

To create your kit, you’ll need to make a list of supplies. The three tables to the right of the Characters/Actors tab will help you do that. Makeup Products, Tools and Cleaning Supplies, and SFX Supplies all work in the same fashion with a very similar structure.

The Makeup Products table tracks most of the consumable items you’ll need to purchase and allows you to set quantities based on the production’s specific needs. You can also enter costs and purchase URLs for simple shopping and the base will calculate the total cost for you.

At the bottom of the base, you’ll see a summary bar that contains the totals for any numeric fields (e.g. currency). You’ll see that with Quantity and Cost but also Total Cost, which uses a formula to multiply cost by quantity. Follow that column all the way down to the bottom of the base and you’ll see the sum total of every item, so you can know your expenses at a glance without the need to do the math yourself.

The Tools and Cleaning supplies table offers a simplified view for items you should only need to buy once. If you’d like to add quantity calculations you can do this yourself very easily. Simply scroll to the right side of the table, if necessary, and you’ll find a + button at the end of the field columns. Click that to add a new field, call it “Quantity,” and set it to a number. Unless you want to use decimal points, you’ll probably want to make that number an integer as well.

Use the same process to create a second field, but this time, make it a formula. In this case, you only need a very simple formula that multiplies the contents of one field by the other. It should look something like this:

Cost * Quantity

That’s actually all you need, because you only have to use the two field types and write them like a mathematical expression for multiplication. The formula will recognize the result as a number by default, but if you want it to display as currency you can click the Formatting tab to change that.

Whether you add these fields or not, you can always see the sum from all the records in the summary bar at the bottom. It will always change to represent the table currently in view.

Finally, the SFX Supplies table contains special items. You may or may not want to add quantity/cost calculations here as well, but that’s up to you. As with the other tables, you’ll see each linking back to the characters who need these products, images of the products, and links to purchase them.

While most example bases contain information to demonstrate a workflow, this base actually contains real products, costs, and purchase URLs. You can use it in your base if you like, edit it to contain links to different stores, adjust the products, or delete it all and start from scratch. Use the base however it helps you work best, and feel free to add anything that will help you manage your work and inventory better.

Adjust your view

Why keep images of each product and actor along with their records? Aside from making everything easier to identify when searching and linking records, you can also create gallery views for a beautiful overview. To see a gallery view, open up the view selector by clicking on the dropdown arrow next to where it says "Grid view." You can also make any new view you like, but this base already contains a gallery view for each table.

Above you’ll see how the Characters/Actors table looks as a gallery. You can see each actor headshot with their character name, real name, and description of their role. If you click the Customize cards button in the toolbar you can hide any of this information or choose to display any of the linked records from other tables. For example, if you wanted to see any of the special effects supplies needed for a given character, you can turn that field on and it will display on each gallery card if relevant. You can do this for the other tables, too.

The Makeup Products table looks very similar in gallery view, of course, but provides different useful information. Instead of just getting an informative overview, you basically have your own curated shop. You can see the quantities you need, the cost of each, and a purchase URL that you can click any time to buy that item.

The remaining tables work in the same fashion, as you might expect, so take a look at their galleries as well if you wish. Grid view works just fine for keeping track of everything, but gallery view offers a nice aesthetic advantage and makes finding what you need a bit faster in many cases, too.

Experiment with what each card shows by hiding fields, creating new ones to track additional information that can help you, and perhaps even try to create a view of your own. You can also use filters to tell a view to only display records that meet certain criteria, such as displaying characters of only a single gender or products that exceed a chosen price threshold.

Airtable can generally accommodate anything you can dream up to help you create a better, more specific workflow for yourself. Use this base as a guide and see what you can come up with. If you make something awesome, share it on Airtable Universe (or just visit to get some inspiration). If you get confused or stuck, check out the Airtable Help Center to clear things up and unstick yourself.

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