She no longer bothered herself with pencils, sketching, or any sort of innovation. All she painted were generic mountain paintings over generic mountain paintings, planning to sell each one for only ten taels. Before she left the market in Lingxin Pavilion, she made sure to take an extra look at the paintings section, finding nothing that made her truly in awe of the school. Many of the paintings there were mediocre quality, yet sold for much more dramatic prices than what she priced her previous work.
If all things went well, her generic mountain paintings would work out well and should get a decent amount of taels for her considering that she only spent around thirty minutes on each one.
By the morning of the fourth day, the day of the exam, Yujia had twenty-four generic mountain paintings and an absolute hatred for painting them. The good news was that if she sold all of them at her planned price of ten taels, that would be two-hundred and forty taels. Even if she had to decrease the price to five taels per painting, that was still one-hundred and twenty taels.
It seemed to be worthy enough.
Yujia carefully watched as Hui'er brushed her hair backwards, styling it into a top knot and tying a male hairpiece around it. While Hui'er did so, she snipped off some hair from the tips of a few loose strands. Taking a very sticky solution, similar to the modern glue, that Hui'er said was used for attaching paper to scroll, Yujia pasted the small pieces of hair onto her eyebrows, thickening the usually thin ones. She also took one of her darkest pencils, using it as an eyebrow pencil to outline her eyebrows even more, giving the impression that she was more masculine than she appeared to be.
Besides the eyebrow filling, Yujia also went with Hui'er to buy some darkish rouge from a cosmetics store. They usually didn't sell rouge of that color, but apparently, they had some from an accidental formula where the wrong pigment was added in during experimenting. They were about to throw it out, so when Yujia asked for it, they were glad to give her a small box for free.
With the rouge, Yujia took a miniscule amount and smeared it along her cheekbones, then fading it out to make the shadows more natural. From her studies of the difference between men and women when drawing portraits, the sharpness of their cheekbones made a big difference. Men generally had sharper cheekbones, so contouring them helped further change her appearance.
From the same cosmetics store, Yujia also bought some pale powder that young misses used for their faces, similar to the foundation of the modern world. She used this powder to smear over her lips, paling the naturally pink color to look more sickly.
Her plan was to take the exam in the identity of the second young master of the Yu family, Yu Ziyang. This name was something she had Hui'er discover for her. Yu Ziyang was supposedly someone who never stepped out the front doors of his villa because of his sickness, so the public never had much of an impression on him. She could probably get away with using his identity as long as no one from the Yu family showed up. Besides, she wasn't using his identity for a long period of time either, so the risks were small.
She considered making up an identity as well, but she thought that being such a prestigious academy that was considered the best for art, Lingxin Pavilion must feel somewhat inclined to take in more students that came from known families than a common nobody.
It was also because of this identity that she took on that she didn't bother to add a beard or any facial hair of that sort. Yu Ziyang was actually only twenty, and with his sickly temperament, she doubted that he would have any noticeable facial hair.
The last part to Yujia's disguise was a set of clothes worthy to be a young master's. She picked it out herself with Hui'er at the marketplace, and she was rather satisfied with the material and feel of the light blue fabric lined with darker blue on the inside. These robes, along with a set of men's shoes that she also bought and the pale powder from before, totaled to seven taels, leaving her with only three measly taels left.
But this was all okay. If she could convince others that she was a fancy— but sickly— young master, then those seven taels were all worth it.
Yujia took a deep breath and looked one last time at her disguise in the bronze mirror.
She didn't look too masculine. The previous owner of this body had too feminine of a face that even after all her efforts, she only barely passed as a man. Whatever those female leads in those dramas and novels did with disguising themselves as a man by simply dressing in men's clothes and wearing men's hairstyle were all lies.
How was it possible to disguise one's gender so easily? The people around those characters must all be fools for believing that they were men so easily.
Yujia's last hope was that she would pass as a sickly, frail, and feminine man. She thought she did pretty good if others were to score her on that.
With all of her disguise complete and all her worries settled, Yujia pushed back the chair and headed out the room, stopping Hui'er from following her. Young masters didn't have maids trailing behind them at all times, and Yujia— or, Yu Ziyang, the second young master of the Yu family— couldn't either.
For the next three days, Yujia painted.