Among all the fun makeup trends on my radar for fall 2015, graphic eyeliner seems to be a versatile beauty craze just waiting for every individual's unique spin. Often inspired by geometric lines and shapes, these fun statement looks bring out the design fanatic in all of us. Of course, the overall style is little quirky (and sometimes very dramatic), so donning graphic eyeliner may not be at the top of your list for understated office makeup or everyday beauty looks. For an evening out, however, or a stylish Saturday spent hunkered down in your favorite bookstore/coffee shop combo, a personalized graphic eyeliner look might be just the thing to add a little excitement into your routine.
If you're not sure where to begin, or if some of the bold looks featured by the major fashion houses both inspire and intimidate you, I'll let you in on a little secret: Your creativity is the key. Sure, there are some basics to be aware of, like utilizing clean, bold lines and generally sticking to geometric designs, but even those get thrown out the window pretty regularly with this trend.
When it comes to graphic eyeliner, the sky is the limit. Get funky, be playful, or aim for simplicity and grace. Your take on graphic eyeliner should align with your personal style. To aid your graphic eyeliner experimentation, I've put together seven brief tutorials that might help inspire you.
1. An Epic Wing
This look has become a staple for many people. It hails to groovy retro vibes, but dates even further back and can be seen on the likes of Cleopatra and other Egyptian royalty. At that time, it was even believed to have magical healing properties, according to National Geographic.
Whether or not you're into ancient lore, the wing is an easy way to acclimate yourself to graphic eyeliner if you're new to the realm of exaggerated eye makeup.
In preparation for this look, and all of the subsequent ones, I've applied primer to my eyelids and the surrounding eye area in order to ensure my pigment is saturated and stays in place.
To begin, apply a clean, sharp line from your inner upper eyelid all the way out to the outer corner of your eye. What eyeliner tool you use is totally your choice.
However, I strongly suggest an angled eyeliner brush with powdered eyeliner or eye shadow, as it's very easy to control and allows you to create much more delicate lines than you might with an eyeliner pencil. Gels and liquid eyeliners with thin brushes are also helpful in that respect, as are eyeliner markers.
Once you've established your upper lid, it's time to fill in your lower eye line.
Personally, I like to begin on the outer corner and work my way in to about midway, then fade the line subtly so that it looks well blended as it ceases mid eye.
Avoiding the inner eye liner initially means that final touch can be bright and fresh, making my eye appear larger and a bit more open.
Next is mapping out where you want the wing to extend. This is somewhat subjective, so you can take a bit of time to experiment with what looks best with your eye shape.
Are you aiming for a fun and upbeat look, or would you like something a bit more dramatic? Flirty and fun wings have a tendency to angle upward, often curving ever so slightly to create a true wing effect. However, many people choose straight wings for a stark, slightly dramatic flair.
As a general rule, your wing will look best if it extends out following one of the natural contours of your eye. If you need a good guide, hold your eyeliner brush up and angle it to visually assess where the lines of your eye shape extend to.
Once you've planned your attack, brush gently away from the corner of your eye to create the initial guide line. Then, carefully add weight and definition to the wing, filling in and connecting it to both your upper and lower eyeliner.
2. Acute Angles
Another fairly subtle way to dip your brush into the graphic eyeliner trend is utilizing acute angles. Essentially, they're just a twist on the dramatic wing and can be modified to either work with your eye shape or create a bold geometric shape that stands out from your natural profile.
As I mentioned above, you can begin this look with the wing you've already created. The strong lower line gives your acute angle a solid base, from which you're simply going to extend your line upwards toward the crease of your eyelid.
After you draw in that initial guide line, go back and darken the corner of the acute angle for emphasis, and add any further curve to the tip that you might desire. You can also bring in some subtle detailing by dividing the angle with a line or two for visual interest.
Makes for a pretty cute look, doesn't it?
3. Gradient Angles
At this point, you might be feeling a bit more confident about this whole graphic eyeliner trend, seeing that it's not always so complicated after all. Don't worry: I'll get to a few leveled up looks in just a bit. In the meantime, another variation on this acute angles look is to bring in a bit of gradient from the corners of the angled wing toward the creases of the eyelid.
In order to do this, simply pull pigment inward from the liner you've set down. You may need to reapply some pigment to ensure the outer lines remain crisp and bold.
4. Color Blocking
For the last variation on angles and wings, why not go a little bold? That's right: It's time to throw away those inhibitions and get blocky.
To begin, you're going to map out an edge for your primary color. This can be anywhere along your upper lid. For the purpose of visual clarity, I'm going right down the middle, however, opting for a third of your lid makes for a really beautiful line as well.
You'll want to drag pigment gently down to meet your eyeliner, keeping in mind that with the convex shape of your eye, what you perceive to be a true straight line will probably have to angle inward slightly in order to appear straight on your lid. This varies a bit from person to person, so play with it and be observant.
Once you've mapped in your boundaries, it's time to add pigment. You will likely need to use two brushes here — your angled eyeliner brush and a softer, wider brush for quicker distribution of pigment.
There you have it. Your first color is blocked in. You have a bold, graphic eyeliner look and if you wish, you can stop here.
However, if you'd like to add a bit more excitement to the look, it's time to select your secondary color. I've chosen a metallic purple from Kat Von D's True Romance palette. (As a side note, all of the eyeliner you see in this post is actually the black shadow from this same palette.)
Block in your secondary color on the inner portion of your lid, maintaining a clean line between the two pigments.
Finally, if you'd like to add just a bit more flair to the look, experiment with accent lines and shapes. For this, I opted for an eyeliner pencil, but use whatever tool you're most comfortable with.
Feel free to get creative here. Obviously I've chosen a small array of dots, but you could easily add a small icon, like a star, or a variety of other geometric shapes.
5. The Space Between
This next look is about negative space, a concept used far more in graphic design than many of us consciously realize. Here, the negative space is subtle, but that's part of what makes it intriguing. Of course, you can always increase how much distance you choose to create between lines.
To begin, draw in a fine upper eye line, from inner corner to outer corner. Drag a delicate wing from the upper line, but keep the wing high and don't connect it at the corner with your lower eye line.
From there, line your lower lid from the inner corner all the way out to just shy of the outer corner, sweeping out instead of up just before your reach the final curve. (Duck lips not required.)
To further enhance this look, you can add a bit of highlighting beneath the lines of your inner eye and in the negative space created at the outer corner of your eye.
Next, extend the light pigment slightly past the outer wing for a bit of drama and gently fade the light pigment out from your inner corner to brighten the look and open up your eyes.
The final product is polished and unique, but still subtle enough to wear in an office setting or to a formal event that isn't all about attracting attention to your makeup.
6. Dramatic Flair
Looking for a graphic look that's both striking and alluring? This option is for you. Here, I'm going to pair bold eyeliner with metallic highlights to create a larger than life look that will make your eyes pop. Just look at the difference between the image above and the image below.
In preparation for this look, you'll want to line your lower lid with a light pigment to create a highlight. This can be any light shade, but for our purposes, I've chosen a light silver pigment in powder form, which I brushed on to achieve a fairly wide, well saturated line from the inner corner of my eye to the outer one.
You'll also want to add a subtle gradient of color to your upper lids in the same pigment, with the most saturated color beginning at the eye line.
Next, draw a line that follows the natural contour of your eye from just below the light pigment beneath your inner eye corner to a little bit away from the final upward curve of your outer eye corner.
Instead of closing the gap at your outer eye corner, you're going to take your brush and extend a small line down and out away from the eye.
Then, gently fill the curve between that small wing and the primary under eye line you've created.
Once your bottom lines are in place, add eyeliner to your upper lid, covering the entire inner edge all the way out, and finally winging slightly up and away from your eye just before the outer corner.
Again, you're creating negative space with this look, so be sure to create a visible gap between the upper and lower wings.
Also, make sure to extend the line on your upper lid down toward your nose, far into your inner eye region.
Once you've completed your lines and filled them in adequately, adding as much weight as you feel comfortable with, drag a big of your light highlight pigment just above your dark upper eyeliner and extend it into the crease of your lid, blending as you go.
The final result? Bright, bold, and striking.
7. La Tigre
OK, this look is a little crazy, but I highly encourage you to give it a shot. If you'd like to see the process behind the metallic eye shadow featured in La Tigre, be sure to read these Metallic Eye Makeup Tutorials for more inspiration.
As fall draws near, take some time to play with this dramatic makeup trend. Experiment with lines that highlight the shape of your eye or add unique visual interest. But above all else, remember that the more fun you have in the process, the more creative you'll be, and the more you'll enjoy your results.
Images: Jen Schildgen