The Clown Network
Resource for the Professional Clown
People decide to become clowns for various reasons. Some are asked to dress up as a clown for a church or school event. Others decide to be a clown for Halloween. Still others start out as magicians, face painters, or balloon twisters and decide to add clowning. When people try to dress as a clown for the very first clown, they usually think about a stereotypical clown with a white face, red nose and mouth, and a crazy wig. Unfortunately, there is a little more to designing a good looking clown face. One of the most common mistakes is making the mouth too big. Typically, a clown looks best if only their lower lip is colored red (or black) and tiny “pips” are added to the side or top of their mouth.
Types of Clowns
The major clown organizations define four basic types of clowns: whiteface, auguste, tramp/hobo, and character clown. Each type of clown has specific characteristics when it comes to makeup and costumes. Although, you can create your own style of clown when doing parties, parades, and other events, these are good starting points. Note: there are other variations such as the Classic Whiteface or Lite Auguste.
You can usually find the makeup and costume standards for each clown organization by checking their competition rules. See World Clown Association or Clowns of America International for more information.
Strutter's Complete Guide to Clown Makeup by Jim Roberts is also a good book for anyone serious about becoming a clown.
As the whiteface name implies, the whiteface clown uses “Clown White” makeup to completely cover their face and neck with white makeup. They will usually color their lower lip with black or red makeup, draw on eyebrows, and add blush to their cheeks. They will also wear a red nose.
The Auguste clown uses both a flesh tone (sometimes pink, tan, or orange) and clown white makeup to cover their face. The eye and muzzle (area around the mouth) areas are usually covered in white to produce a wide-eyed expression and to accentuate the mouth design. The rest of their face is covered with a base color of flesh tone. They will usually color their lower lip with black or red makeup, draw on eyebrows, and add blush to their cheeks. They will also wear a red nose.
The tramp/hobo clown uses a flesh tone base with black or a shade of dark gray makeup on their cheeks and chin to reflect the soot and beard. Typically the area around their eyes and mouth are white. They might add some red highlights to represent sunburn.
The character clowns will usually have an auguste style makeup but will wear a costume that represents their profession, such as fireman, policeman, or chef.
YouTube has a few good makeup tuitorials made by professional clowns.