Face painting is fantastic fun – and a great way to complete fancy dress costumes, whether for Halloween, birthday parties, or just a rainy day dress-up game. As a parent, mastery of a few easy face painting techniques and designs will stand you in good stead for years to come. Kids love the freedom of a little messy play with paint, and their new identity can be the inspiration for plenty of fun, exciting games and activities – go give it a go!
Face painting tips
- Kids have sensitive skin, so test any face paints on a small area of skin and only proceed if there is no irritation.
- We all know that you need to be quick when doing face painting for kids (children don’t like to sit still for long periods of time), but if you find things going a little slower than expected, give them something to think about as they wait – swapping riddles is a great way to distract them, for example.
- Practice painting designs with regular paint on paper first, to get an idea of the colours and strokes you’ll use.
- You don’t have to paint the whole face to make a great impression – often a simple design, like flowers or stars on one cheek, or across the forehead, is effective enough.
- Expand your face painting tool kit to include sponges and different sized paintbrushes to get the exact effect you want.
- Look for water-based paints rather than oil ones, which can be difficult to remove from skin.
- Always use paints designed for face painting – other products can irritate the skin!
Face painting ideas
Here are a few easy face painting ideas to get you started. Many designs have similar components, so we’ve grouped them together to demonstrate that once you’ve mastered one, you can do even more!
Face painting rabbits, cats and dogs
- Using white paint and a sponge, colour in the nose. Then create a circular, muzzle shape around the mouth and chin.
- Take a small brush and paint a small black nose at the very tip of your child’s actual nose, and then paint a black line running from the nose down to the top lip.
- For rabbits and dogs, paint black dots on your child’s cheeks either side of the nose; for cats, paint black whiskers. Add patches or stripes in brown, yellow, or black to resemble a spotty or stripy animal if you like.
- To paint a dog, make the lips black with a red tongue hanging down below the bottom lip; for a rabbit, paint the lips black again, but with two white teeth in the centre of the bottom lip; for a cat, paint the lips pink and, optionally, add paint a black line across the top of each eyelid, flicking up at the outer corners.
- If your child isn’t wearing cat, dog, or rabbit ears already, you may want to paint some in on their forehead.
Face painting tigers and lions
- Use a sponge to cover the face in orange (tiger) or yellow (lion) paint.
- Sponge white between the nose and the lip, and around and just above the eyes.
- Paint a black nose at the tip of the actual nose, and a line connecting the nose and the upper lip.
- Paint the centre ridge of the upper lip black, and apply dots on either side like freckles.
- For tigers, paint black lines radiating from the inner eye up to the forehead and across the cheeks to form stripes.
- For lions, circle the eyes in black paint.
Image by David K
Face painting butterflies
- Paint the body of the butterfly on the bridge of the nose, with antenna extending up onto the forehead between the eyebrows.
- Use different coloured paints to produce multicoloured wings: two shades extending out around the eyes, and two on the cheeks.
Face painting clowns
- Use a sponge to cover your child’s face in white paint.
- Paint a red, circular nose and a wide red mouth that extends beyond the actual mouth.
- Paint on big blue or yellow ‘eye shadow’ extending from above the eyes to the tops of the eyebrows.
- Paint large black eyebrows about half way up the forehead, and add ‘Pierrot’ tears just below one eye.
Image by Russell Tucker
Face painting super heroes
Each super hero has a different ‘uniform’, but most have their own type of mask. Using the super hero’s colours (for example, blue and red for Spiderman) paint a mask like shape around the eyes and across the nose.
- For Spiderman: paint a red mask and then use black to paint a spider’s web on top.
- For Batman: use black to paint a mask in the shape of a bat, and fill in with blue.
- For the Incredible Hulk: paint the whole face green, and use black to make angry expression lines.
- For Wonder Woman: use black paint to outline a headband, use red paint to make a star in the centre, and fill in with the surrounding band with gold.
Face painting pirates
- Paint a black eye patch around one eye, with a strap across the forehead.
- Paint black scars on the cheeks and a moustache or beard to complete the look.
Do your kids have any favourite face painting designs? Let us know in the comment box below!