How to Do Face Painting?

If you've ever been to a children's party, you may wonder how to do face painting?

It seems so easy, right?

It's colorful, creative and kids love it. 

From the designs on a menu board to the colorful array of paints laid out on the face painter's table, you might be a little curious how all of this is done.

It's actually not as difficult as you may think.  Honestly I receive comments at nearly every party where a mom will say, "You're so talented.  I could never do that!"

In reality, that mom who thinks it isn't possible is both right AND wrong.

Here's why:

She's right about not being able to face paint if she believes she cannot do it.  This is true for almost anything else in life.  If you believe you cannot do something than your mind accepts this belief and you can't do it. 

On the other hand, face painting like many skills is acquired through practice.  You will not be the best guitarist in the group if you don't devote time to practicing  You may start out strumming all the wrong strings, but over time you become better, faster and more creative.

This is true for face painting. 

If you are willing to practice and learn a few techniques you can surely do face painting.  Once you've got the basics down you can proceed from there and earn money offering face painting services at parties and events as a side hustle or full time.

The reality is that face painting doesn't require artistic skills even though it may look that way when it's being done.  There are people who are incredibly talented and already quite artistic.  Their face painting work can be stunning to behold, but that's not what you're going for here.

I learned face painting because my customers wanted it.  I'm a balloon artist at heart as I started twisting before face painting.  I, too, once held the opinion I could not face paint and tried to steer clear of it for party requests.

Naturally, though, parents wanted it all for their kids.  They want balloon twisting because it's neat and they want face painting because kids go nuts for it. 

Moms know how face painting makes their child feel special. 

Making a child feel special is a huge part of learning how to do face painting. It's not only about the designs, supplies and speed, but we'll get to this in just a bit.

How to do face painting for children's parties

1.  When you're very interested to learn how to do face painting begin with familiarizing yourself with easy designs.  

YouTube has tons of tutorials for all levels of face painters.  Heather Green (aka Silly Heather) is a great channel to subscribe to.  She is a face painter and runs a face painting supply shop called Silly Farm

I learned about Silly Farm from a local face painter in my area.  I wasn't doing face painting but we were both at an event together.  I asked her about where she bought her stuff and she told me Silly Farm.

Princess face painting by Elaine Bulawin of Hooray Balloons Kids Entertainment, Vallejo.

Silly Farm is a great resource for supplies, education and they also do a yearly face painting convention. 

The whole idea here though is to sit through a few videos of people doing face painting.  This way you can see what they do and how they do it.  It helps to see the kinds of paint they use as well as brushes and sponging technique. 

2.  Once you see how to do face painting designs, begin educating yourself on painting supplies.  Using high quality, FDA approved paints is necessary.  There will be brands of paint you're more partial to then others for coverage, etc. 

You will find people face paint with acrylic paints. 

This is an absolute no-no. 

The use of acrylic paint or craft paint is not intended for your face. Don't use it ever because it only hurts the children or adults you face paint.

Damage from acrylic paint on one's face.

3.  Start painting.  Offer to do a church, school or community event.  Get out there and try to paint so you can learn what it's like to actually paint on a child's face. 

You need the real world experience of doing face painting in order to figure out how to do face painting.  Different situations will challenge you to become better at your craft.

4.  Get a menu board together of designs you've painted when possible.  If you don't have anything don't worry.  You can get designs from Etsy.  They're cartoon-like illustrations and very kid friendly. 

When you purchase them the designs come as digital downloads.  Simply print off and apply to your menu board.

I send my illustrations to a local printer service for them to size and laminate.  I prefer laminated images since I find kids like touching my board and laminated designs are easier to clean.

Another menu board option is a word menu.  This allows for greater creativity on your part.  The word menu typically has not only the word but a simple design with it. You can paint as you please without needing to create the same design every time.

Sometimes a picture menu board is frustrating because kids expect it to look as you've presented it.  A word menu gives you more flexibility.

or buy face paint cards showing designs for a child to choose.  Whichever way you go, just be sure you can paint what's on your board. 

5.  Practice, practice and practice some more.  You can practice on your child, a niece, nephew or a partner.  Begin using your brushes so you understand brush strokes, pressure on the brush and how it can help you achieve the design you're painting. 

No children are available?  No worries, simply paint your own arm, leg or face.  Try to devote 30 minutes each day to work on tear drops and going from thin lines to thick lines and swirls. 

6.  Lastly, when learning how to do face painting keep in mind you're dealing with children and their behavior (good and sometimes not-so-good) and more importantly their parents. 

Children's entertainment can be a rewarding career field, but you do need to be able to serve kids happily and in a way that puts them at ease.  Some children are afraid of face painting and some children are very shy.  You need to be approachable and friendly to help them so they enjoy the experience.

Also, parents have lots of expectations so it's necessary to manage this so both you and the parents (your customers) are happy. 

How to do face painting requires you to familiarize yourself with designs offered on YouTube and educating yourself about supplies used.  Then it's a matter of getting out there and painting.  With some designs under your belt create your menu board or get illustrations. Keep practicing for speed, better line work and increased confidence. 

In time you will become better, faster and more confident.  Word will travel about you and your service even with competition in your area.  Face painting is creative, fun, colorful and in many ways magical so you'll do well to perfect this art form.  It's worth the time to learn so get started today.

  1. Party Entertainment
  2. Children's Face Painting
  3. How to Face Paint