Basic Face Painting Techniques

Jodie Michalak
These basic designs are easy to create.

Basic face painting techniques are easy to master with a little bit of time, effort and the basic painting materials. The following basic techniques will help the beginner face painter get inspired and improve confidence levels. Once you master the art of face painting, think of all the fun you'll have!

Creating Special Effects With Face Paint

The following special effects add finishing touches to costumes and impersonations.

How to Add Whiskers

Adding whiskers to a completed face paint design is a must have touch for feline, canine or rodent impersonations. To create painted whiskers, follow these steps:

  • Draw a line from the nose to the middle of the upper lip.
  • Draw a small triangle in the middle of the upper lip.
  • Outline the small triangle in white and paint the bottom lip black.
  • Using fast strokes, paint three whiskers on each side of the face.

How to Make Eyes Look Bigger or Smaller

There may be times you wish to create the appearance of large or small eyes. Perhaps you're creating a witch or a goblin, who's eyes should appear winced or tiny. Maybe you're painting a ghost or ghastly image that you'd like to have a wide-eyed frightful appearance. There's a few tips you can try to create the appearance of both small or large eyes.

  • How to make large eyes: Create the appearance of wide eyes by drawing big black outlines around each eye. In between the outline and the real eye, fill in with white paint.
  • How to make small eyes: To create the appearance of small eyes, apply dark black face paint over entire eyelid and under the eyes, carefully working around the eyes and the eyelashes.

How to Make Someone Look Older or Younger

For special costumes, adding years or making someone appear younger may be a requirement. It is much easier to add maturity with the use of latex prosthetics, but there are a face painting techniques that will enhance age:

  • Adding wrinkles: Create the appearance of wrinkles by drawing small, creased lines in natural areas of the face, such as around the eyes, at the corners of the mouth, and the forehead. Enhance this wrinkled look with pasty, pale, graying skin.
  • Creating youth: You can create the appearance of a younger face by using concealer around fine lines, creases and dark spots to even out the skin tone.

How to Add a Scar, Mole or Blemish

Adding small details such as a scar, mole or blemish is a must have skill for creating a creepy ghoul, a wicked witch or a celebrity impersonation, such as Marilyn Monroe. These special effects are easy for the face painting beginner.

  • To create a mole: Using a dark brown or flesh colored paint, dollop a mole where desired. For added definition, outline the design in black paint.
  • To create a scar: Scars can be made to look real with a mixture of a flesh toned and silver paint. Apply shiny paint wherever the appearance of a healing scar is needed. For fresh wounds, work with blood red paint and draw gory details as desired.
  • To create a blemish: To create blemishes, use either flesh tone paint or red paint and add sporadic enhancements as needed. You can create freckles the same way using a light brown paint.

Simple Face Painting Techniques

Carnival inspired designs are a novel idea for birthday parties, special events, Halloween, or whenever a small child craves a quick pick me up. Small designs are easy to create and require basic skill. With a little bit of paint and a basic hand for drawing the following objects, you can create an outline and fill in with bright colors of choice. The following simplistic designs are easy to draw, and even more fun to do for a small child who will fully appreciate the finished design. Why not grab some color and experiment with the following basic face images?

  • Balloon: Draw the outline of the balloon. Fill in with color of choice, and draw a string with white or black paint. For a larger design, add multiple balloons of different sizes.
  • Car: Toddler boys love race car designs. Pick a fun racy color such as orange, yellow or red, and draw an outline of a car with black paint. Fill in with your color of choice. Add four wheels, and a few flames behind the back tires for special effects.
  • Butterfly: Although a butterfly is a unisex design, little girls will likely be drawn to them more than boys. To create the butterfly, draw the outline of two wings, make a long narrow body in the center, and add two antennae on the top of the head. Pick colorful pastel or bright vivid paint to fill in the wings of the butterfly. Get creative and use your imagination. This design can also be used to make a fairy, by substituting a human body with legs in lieu of the insect body.
  • Flames: Flames are quick and easy and are loved by girls and boys alike. To create fierce flames, grab some black paint and make a jagged, haphazard design resembling a lightening bolt. Fill in with red or orange, and yellow highlights.
  • Hearts: Hearts are one of the easiest creations to make. Get creative and fill in hearts with bright colors such as purple, pink or red.
  • Lightening Bolt: For a lightening bolt, make a jagged symbol and fill in with bright yellow paint.
  • Turtle: Turtles are fun and easy to paint. Using black paint, outline a small shell. Add a head and four legs. Fill in shell with dark green paint, and then apply bright green paint in small circles to add believable decoration to the shell.

Expand Your Face Painting Skills

If you'd like to expand your knowledge and learn how to face paint in a formal hands-on setting, consider a course offered at community colleges or craft stores. Many books also offer face painting designs that will inspire creative ventures in the art. Once you start practicing basic face painting techniques, you'll discover just how easy it is, and the ideas and inspirations will soon follow.

Basic Face Painting Techniques