Face Painting Ideas

February 12, 2008 fernemerrylees
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As a martial arts instructor you’d think I’d have no need for face painting ideas but as the only creatively bent instructor it often falls to me to paint kids faces at holiday camps and School’s Out parties. I obviously don’t do face painting for a living and during the year there might only be half a dozen occasions when I do need to whip out the face paints but when I do, it’s usually in a large dose of almost 100 or more fidgeting children. It’s enough to almost make a fully qualified black belt cry.

However face painting is truly magical. The looks on kids’ faces when they see themselves in the mirror is worth the blood, sweat and tears and it’s not all that hard to do. You don’t need to be artistically gifted or even all that imaginative even. There are books and designs and guides that will help even the most artistically challenged individual. There are however a few face painting ideas and tips that will make your job that less stressful and much more rewarding.

  • First off, if you ask a kid what they want on their face, be prepared for anything. With tv taking up more and more of a child’s daily routine (as unhealthy as it is, sometimes parents just need a break and for that television is a godsend), kids want to look like Pokemon, sponge bob and a myriad of other cartoon characters many you may have never even heard of! Have a folder or even an A4 laminated sheet that shows all the designs they can chose from. Limit the choices and you won’t be stuck having to explain to a tearful three year old that you can’t do an Avatar on their face cos you don’t even know what that is. (I had to check on nickelodeon and it’s actually a pretty cool show.)
  • Kids still go for the classics. Don’t be afraid to try new things but you’d be surprised how often children prefer a rainbow or a spider or a pirate. I’ve gathered a list of the top ten favourites for boys and girls in no particular order and if you can manage a couple of these if not more then your set.


  1. Spiderman
  2. Batman
  3. pirates
  4. puppy dogs
  5. skulls
  6. robots
  7. monsters
  8. bats
  9. tigers
  10. teenage mutant ninja turtle


  1. rainbows
  2. butterflies
  3. princesses
  4. fairies
  5. snowflakes
  6. cats
  7. unicorns
  8. ladybugs
  9. flowers
  10. puppy dogs
  • Some of the trickier designs like a bat or a unicorn can be done on a child’s cheek instead of trying to fit it around a kid’s eyes, nose and mouth. Doing face painting on one cheek is also quicker and easier to do so if you have a million children (or it seems that way) to face paint, cut down the time by doing a smaller section of the child’s face.
  • Keep it simple! It doesn’t have to be perfect either. If you keep it to one base coat and a few details, it will look good and there are less chances of making a mistake.
  • Practice. If you have children of your own, make them model for you. Depending on their age, however, the chances of them sitting still for a long period of time isn’t good. Compromise and let them paint your face if they sit still long enough. (This is great fun and usually amounts to lots of giggling!!) Use your partner, your friends, even yourself in the mirror. Find an old dinner plate and use that (preferably one without any patterns) and once you’ve done one design wash it off and do another.
  • Use the right sort of paint. Paint can be expensive so you should look around and find something that not only works but is easy to clean off, doesn’t cause any allergic reactions and is affordable. I once tried this type of paint that you could peel off. My victim was another karate instructor who wanted to be a teenage mutant ninja turtle. The green paint was tacky and didn’t go on properly and in the end he looked more like a diseased frog than a turtle. It began to peel off by itself and in the end we just gave up. Thankfully we’d practiced on him first and that paint went straight into the bin.

Face painting can be done anywhere and you’d be surprised how often you can use your skills. At fairs, schools and even at your own child’s birthday party. It would sure be a hit for any special occasion and its easy to do. Give it a go, practice and then let yourself loose. It’s rewarding and fun and totally worth seeing the smiles on kids faces.

Read a review of a book I recommend here.


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One Comment Add your own

  • 1. Miss.Holly  |  May 10, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Thank you so veryyyyyy much I got lost on the web for supposedly “free” templates and then was directed to all different sites that required you to pay for stuff. This site helped me out alot

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