Are you new to face painting, but unsure about where to begin? Are you concerned about using the right tools and developing good habits early on? This guide will walk you through the essentials. The following list contains everything you need to get started – with a special emphasis on tools and techniques that will serve you well for the rest of your face-painting career.
It may seem like storage is better to purchase after you already have supplies, but it’s nice to have a plan right from the outset. Maintenance is the best way to protect your investment. A single storage mistake could lead to mildewed paint or ruined brushes. Expensive paint and tool replacements are the last thing a beginner can afford.
All you need is a nice breathable container for the paints (if the paints are water-activated, you should probably store them without their individual lids) and a sturdy but breathable case to keep your brushes organized and separated. Use a mesh bag for cosmetic sponges and just throw the whole thing in the washer when your sponges get too dirty.
A basic 8-color kit will keep you busy for a very long time. Red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, and white: armed with these, you can paint almost anything. But some newer artists do have trouble working with basic primary and secondary colors. Instead of buying more paints, just look for that same basic 8-color rainbow in a tropical or pastel hue.
Resist the temptation to use your entire budget on paint (it’s easier than you think!) but do take a little time to treat yourself. Rainbow pots are a lot of fun and are actually extremely useful: these combination paints allow you to make beautiful single-stroke designs in a snap. Other fun ‘extras’ include metallics and neons. These are mostly for details, so purchase the smallest containers you can find.
Quality is important. Buying from a professional face painting shop is the best way to go. Professionals always use non-staining, hypoallergenic, cosmetic-approved formulas. Low quality paints and high quality paints are like night and day, so you might as well go for the “real deal” the first time around. You’ll learn better technique with the professional-grade paint.
If you want to do big events like carnivals someday, it’s best to learn with sponges. They’re the best for quick designs but they do have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to using them well. If you are able to master the sponge early on in your journey, you’ll have no trouble at all learning how to use brushes for more detailed designs.
Sponges are also very inexpensive. Purchase smooth, firm sponges for better control. You can buy pre-cut wedges or buy rounds and cut them into wedges yourself.
As far as brushes goes, a thin but sturdy line brush is a true essential. Use this for your black outlines and white highlights. Avoid the super fine-point brushes – thin details look fine up close but don’t really show up well when standing “talking distance” away. Consider picking up a flat brush for any one-stroke paints you may have purchased.
Your local library probably has a few face painting books, great for classic design inspiration, but since these books are often old, they usually don’t have much information about how to use modern face paint specifically. Joining an online face paint community is a better way to get customized answers from beginners and professionals alike.
Practice materials are a little more difficult to find. Face painting supply stores often carry washable mats with skin-like texture for portable practice, and others even offer full-sized mannequin heads specifically designed for face paint. Both options are great and well worth the investment! Practice makes perfect.
In reality, a learner’s kit is never complete, but that’s only because a face paint enthusiast never stops learning. Face painting is a very special art form – it’s more about the technique than tools and materials.
Put practice and enthusiasm first. You’re doing it right if you’re having fun! Once you paint your first face and see your first test subject don a huge smile, you’ll start to care more about finding customers rather than finding the hottest new products anyways.