We Value Your Privacy

We and our partners use technology such as cookies on our site to personalise content and ads, provide social media features, and analyse our traffic. Click below to consent to the use of this technology across the web. You can change your mind and change your consent choices at anytime by returning to this site.

Update Consent
Loading ...

How to Design Lighting for a Theatrical Makeup Mirror

Updated November 21, 2016

Designing lighting for a theatrical make-up mirror requires imagination. Traditional theatrical mirrors are surrounded by a series of light bulbs to supply sufficient light for the actor to apply make-up. Some mirrors have lighting set within the frame, while the alternative is to position lighting panels around the theatrical mirror. The convention is for the practical function to precede the aesthetic when designing mirror lights, such as safety and efficiency, but that does not mean that the style of lights should remain relics of the past.

Loading ...
  1. Study various images of theatrical make-up mirror lights to analyse the similarities and differences in design. Find images on the Internet. Notice the function, the basic form in the arrangement of lights, colour, component parts, decorative details and materials used. Consider how you can offer an alternative design solution to improve function and style.

  2. Make a collage to create a mood sheet, which is a visual reference to spark potential design ideas. Find various images of interest in magazines, newspapers, photocopy images out of books or print images off the Internet. Use some theatrical images, such as masks, stage set or props. Cut or tear out images. Arrange them in a random manner onto a page of your sketchbook. Stick images down using a glue-stick.

  3. Look at your mood sheet. Locate a small section that interests you in terms of contrasting lines, curves, shapes and theatrical emblems that could be incorporated into your theatrical mirror design.

  4. Referring to your mood sheet, draw several experimental design possibilities on the next page of your sketchbook, using your pencil. Consider design specifications such as purpose, limited space and cost to produce the lights.

  5. Try designing an alternative way of setting the series of light bulbs within the wire enclosed lighting panel that will not reduce the efficiency of the lights' purpose or set within the frame of make-up mirror. Focus predominantly on the mirror frame or design of the lighting panel where there is more scope for design creativity. For instance, design decorative features using theatrical motifs and consider incorporating a textured finish.

  6. Colour your designs using art marker pens or coloured pencils. Include instructional pencil notes to indicate specific design features or materials used, such as metal, wood, glass or plastics.

  7. Select a specific design. Re-draw to enlarge the design onto a separate sheet of paper. Add colour and neat instructional notes in black pen. Mount the finished design onto a sheet of cardstock to put into your portfolio of product designs.

  8. Tip

    Stay realistic in your design approach. Be creative, but not too elaborate so to produce an affordable product. Consider using environmentally friendly materials like energy efficient light bulbs. Patent your product design and find a manufacturer to produce your lighting designs.


    Do not neglect health and safety regulations in relation to technical specifications that could impact the design. For instance, according to T J Robb of the Control Booth, light bulbs must be protected with an encaged guard for safety if the light is placed less than eight feet from the ground. Also, there must a switch as well as an indicator light placed outside the dressing room.

Loading ...

Things You'll Need

  • Sketchbook A4 or A3
  • Pencil #2
  • Eraser
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Art marker pens or coloured pencils
  • Black drawing pen
  • Glue-stick
  • Scissors
  • Coloured card A3 or A1
  • Portfolio folder A3 or A1

About the Author

Robyn Tindle
Loading ...
Loading ...