Learn to Face Paint

mom and son with face paint

Once you learn to face paint, you can use this creative skill to your own advantage come holidays or dress up events. Whether it be a Halloween party, your children's birthday parties, or a theatrical performance, face painting creates an exciting and unique look.

Learn to Face Paint: Basics

Before you get elaborate and creative, start with the basics of face painting. Basic painting techniques]] may include simple designs such as a cat or a bunny. These designs are perfect for the beginner and help to inspire creative instincts.

To get started with basic themes, check out a book from your local library or purchase one from a bookstore. The Usborne Book of Face Painting is perfect for a beginner.

In addition, check out the following articles, websites and galleries which may offer helpful information and ideas:

Tip: To enroll in an instructor based course, check local community colleges or arts and craft stores. For a nominal fee, you may be able to learn the craft of face painting in a structured, hands-on setting.

Supplies Needed

Face painting supplies are available at numerous online retailers such as Clown Antics and Face Painting Tips. The basic supplies you'll need to get started with this creative endeavor include:

  • Facial sponges
  • Sable hair brushes
  • Paint palette or crayons
  • Stencils

It's important to keep in mind that there are several mediums of paint available for face painting. You may find preference for tube paint or palette paint versus crayons. When you start out painting, invest a few dollars in each variety and test them out before you splurge on any certain type.

Application Steps

It always helps to have some ideas lined up before you start face painting. For example, if you are working with a bunch of children, ask them to figure out what design they want painted prior to getting their turn in the chair.

Once your model arrives in the seat, take a moment to visualize the finished piece. Get a solid idea of the color selection and the style before you proceed. Keep a face painting book handy for creative ideas whenever you run into a stump.

Before you start face painting, make sure your model's face is clean and dry. Paint will not apply evenly to a dirty or damp surface. Apply face paint in a thin layer and smooth edges with a facial sponge. Blending will help to soften the effect of the face paint and will create a smooth, flawless surface. If you apply face paint too liberally, it may crack. It is always best to apply a few thin layers rather than one thick layer.

To steady your hand while applying face paint, try sitting in a chair with your model sitting directly across from you. Prop your working elbow up on a table and use it to anchor your hands. As always, make sure your model has a handheld mirror available to admire themselves and your work when complete.


  1. Create final idea from pictures
  2. Gather face painting supplies
  3. Make sure the surface of the face is clean and dry
  4. Begin application of base layer, if needed
  5. If you are working with shapes rather than a full face painted design, begin at the top of the face rather than the bottom to avoid smudging the work as you finish
  6. Layer paint gradually to add depth of color without cracking or caking the base layer
  7. Begin design with stencil or freehand strokes, applying additional colors as needed with a separate brush
  8. Complete design and offer a mirror to your lucky patron
  9. Immediately clean all supplies and close paint lids tightly to avoid dry out

Using Your Craft

After you learn to face paint, the question may arise; can you hone in on your craft and earn a decent income? Chances are small that your newfound talent will be fruitful long term, but you may land paying hobbyist gigs here and there at local fairs, birthday parties, college campus theatre departments and at fundraising events.

For fulltime career potential it may be best to attend beauty school and complete training for your cosmetology license. With a license in hand, you can broaden your face painting horizons and work as a freelance hair and makeup artist. Not only would this be an exciting and fast past career for the person who enjoys face painting, it is equally creative and requires similar hands- on techniques.

The art of face painting is an imaginative and fun talent. If you enjoy working with your hands in a creative and artistic manner, why not learn the skill today for Halloween and special events!

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