How to Create and Photograph Cosmetic Swatches

In this live show, Karl took a slightly different angle on cosmetics photography as he demonstrated how to photograph creative makeup swirls and sweeps — something you often see in magazines and online adverts.

Working with his assistant Georgie, the pair demonstrated the start-to-finish process of creating and photographing cosmetic swatches using just a one-light setup.

Georgie covered exactly how to create eye-catching designs, what tools to use, and creative techniques to get the best results while Karl focussed on the technical elements of the shot such as lens choice, camera settings, and lighting.

Throughout this show, you’ll learn how to photograph close-up shots without using a macro lens, what backgrounds to use for cosmetic photography, how to control reflections, and how to create and control gradient lighting.

Topics covered in this show include:

  • How to photograph cosmetic swatches
  • How to create cosmetic swirls and sweeps
  • Tools & techniques for creative results
  • One-light setups for product photography
  • Using reflectors to control light
  • How to create gradient lighting
  • How to control reflections in glossy products

If you have any questions about this show, please post in the comment section below.



  1. Hi Karl. This is such a fantastic learning resource! Just wondering where you source the acrylic from, especially the gloss as a diffuser. Many thanks, Sophie

    1. Hi Sophie, thank you. I think we mentioned in this video that most of our acrylics and plastics come from companies that make signs for people for companies building etc. They usually stock a large range. Otherwise you can go directly to the plastic suppliers such as Barkston Plastics that we also use in the UK if buying in bulk. If you are in the USA then I’m sure you will have lots of similar suppliers.

  2. I just signed up so if this is somewhere I have not yet discovered, I apologize. Are supplies used in the video listed some place on the site?

    1. Hi Linda, welcome! When you say supplies do you mean the equipment used? We have equipment lists on most class pages further down on the right of each page.

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