Face painting ideas are limited only by one’s imagination. That said, some of the more popular ideas include images of bats, balloons, butterflies, clowns, fairies, flags, flowers, ghosts, hearts, ladybugs, pirates, princesses, pumpkins, stars, skeletons, vampires, and witches. Disney and other cartoon characters, and superheroes such as Batman, Flash, and Spiderman are also among the most requested images. Face painting ideas aren’t just limited to images either. “Happy Birthday!” school names, and company logos are popular non-picture ideas.

The origins of face painting can probably be traced back to the olden days when tribesmen would apply dye to their faces before going out to hunt or into battle. They would, of course, try to make themselves look more ferocious and intimidating. Today, face painting is all about fun and entertainment. It is a common activity at festivals and fairs, children’s birthday parties, and really any event where people might congregate.

And while most of our images are face painting designs for kids, face painting is not just for children – grownups from 18 to 80 can enjoy adult face painting as well. Soldiers, for instance, may use face painting for camouflage while other adults may show support for their country by painting a flag across their face or cheek. Others may paint symbols on their faces to show support for their favorite sports team. And, of course, the circus. Have you ever seen a clown without face paint? Clowns and other entertainers and performers are big, big fans of face painting.

One way you can get face painting ideas is to look at what others have done. We have categorized dozens (soon to be hundreds) of simple face painting designs (and a few not so simple) which can be found in the menu to the right.

One of the few books we have found on face painting which we like is Face Painting (The Klutz Kit). And we love this book! It is spiral-bound which means it will lie flat. (Why aren’t more books, especially how-to books, like this?) It features detailed directions for simple sponge and brush techniques. And the best part! – it comes with a six-color palette of face paints, a brush, a sponge, and a bunch of tear-out, take-along design cards. A nice book …actually, more like a face painting kit. And we are not alone in our praise for this book/kit: It is 5-star rated (out of 5 stars) from many customers on Amazon.com where it has received many nice reviews. [easyazon-link asin=”159174430X” locale=”us”]Using this link will get you 34% off and eligible for free shipping (subject to change).[/easyazon-link]

“God has given you one face and you make yourselves another”
– Hamlet

Remember, fun is the bottom line when it comes to face painting ideas!

face painting of orange butterfly

Orange Butterfly Face Painting

Butterflies are one of the most popular designs when thinking of face painting ideas. Butterflies are beautiful! And this orange butterfly is no exception. Professional, well-designed orange butterfly on a lovely young lady.
[Art by Hill’s Entertainments]

Pearly Butterfly Face Painting

Pearly Butterfly Face Painting

Butterflies represent growth, rebirth, stages of life, freedom! Many people feel they may also represent souls. This one shown with its whites, pinks, and purples is simply gorgeous.
[Art by Mazmerized]

When face painting, you don’t have to follow the norm. You can use any colors you want. Thinking outside the box can produce exciting, vibrant images like this one.

Clothing can greatly enhance your face painting abilities and add a certain flair as this handsome young man demonstrates.

Though he is best known for his comic books, Spider-Man has also appeared in cartoons, movies, coloring books, television, novels, records, and children’s books. IN the late 60s, Spider-Man even had his own animated series on television which ran for four years.

The tiger is the largest of the cat species and can reach a total body length of up to 11 feet and can weigh up to 670 pounds. Their most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with lighter underparts.

Cat face painting is one of the more requested face paintings.

Spider-Man can not only eject a single rope-like strand to swing from, he can also eject a net to catch enemies, weave a shield for protection, a club, or a hang-glider wing.

Who said Spider-man was a he?

The person behind Spider-man’s secret identity is Peter Parker, a teenage high school student. Spider-man is also known as Spidey and is sometimes referred to as The Amazing Spider-Man.

Hoboken Arts & Music Festival (Spring 2006)

Hoboken Arts & Music Festival (Spring 2006) by David Pfeffer

A little girl gets her face painted by a clown at the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival.

Many face painters are themselves “painted up.” Very often as clowns.

There are also “rodeo clowns,” usually in full face paint, who will work in pairs or sometimes in threes. In bull riding, for instance, rodeo clowns will move towards the bull, waving and yelling to attract the bull’s attention to themselves as soon as a bull rider dismounts or is thrown from the bull. Rodeo clowns do this so the rider can escape from the bull and get to safety. A very important job.

Dolphins are marine mammals. They are closely related to porpoises and whales. They are considered one of the most intelligent animals. Dolphins friendly appearance and playful attitude have made them very popular with humans.

Dolphins can make a wonderfully unique face painting.

Why are clowns so depressing?

Why are clowns so depressing? by RobertFrancis

As a child, I thought clowns were supposed to be funny and entertaining. This one reminds me of all the sadness that there is in the world, thinly veiled in face paint.

There can be sad clowns, happy clowns, entertaining clowns, depressing clowns, funny clowns, any kind of clown you can think of. Perhaps one should just paint their mood.

The Sad Clown

The Sad Clown by Vineet Radhakrishnan

The sad clown
Always hiding his frown.
His painted mask hides the tears he cries.

There are special water-based cosmetic face paints made for face painting. Tempera and acrylic paints made for craft projects are not meant for use on skin and should not be used for face painting. Paints not made for face painting may cause a reaction ranging from mild discomfort to possible severe allergic reaction.

faces of carnival - clown

faces of carnival – clown by Pascal \o/

This guy spend day 44 (2010-02-13), or at least part of it, in a carnival float in Druten.

It is impossible to be too “loud” in your color choices when being a clown. Any old, or new, funky piece of clothing can be used when dressing as a clown. Let your imagination go!

A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech.

Mimes generally have a lot in common with clowns. Mimes never talk – clowns rarely do. Both will quite often use white as the background color on their face. And they both try to be entertaining.

Hats can add a great dimension to your face painting. Think outside the box when it comes to adding to your design. And yes! There can certainly be girl clowns.

clowning around

clowning around by zenobia_joy

Art Car Blowout at the Fremont Festival

As this image demonstrates, sometimes you need just two colors (red and white in this case) to paint a face and be effective at it! The red bulb nose, the hat, and the shirt all add to the effect.

Cleveleys circus stars launch

Cleveleys circus stars launch by Lancashire County Council

On the 26th July we launched our summer reading programme with our ‘roll up, roll up’ workshop. The children could have their face painted and made a clown face mask and a clown hat.

Feel free to borrow the clown hat idea for kids. They can make them themselves with just a little bit of adult supervision. The hat plus some face paint equals a good time. Quick and simple!

As this young lad demonstrates, a face painting can be just some simple lines and still be effective.

Just choose the right colors and go! You can do it!

Japan Flag Face Painting

Stay Strong, Japan! by PureBlackLove

"Since I saw a lot of comments about the flag I used in this facepaint, let me explain something: first, this is not the war flag but the Naval Ensign. Second it’s reversed, that it’s my way to dissociate the facepaint from the original meaning. third, this is a rising sun! no more, no less. it’s supposed to be a sign of love, not of disputes in this terrible time… fourth: the Japan flag it’s still included. the big red dot stands for that. "

Japan Flag Face Painting. Japan is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

The country of Japan is the world’s 10th most populous with over 127 million people. Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, has over 30 million residents.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Notice in the above photo how the pretty young face is not the only thing that is painted. The hair, or at least some of it, gets some coloring also.

Monsters can be any color, any size, anything your imagination can think up.

A monster is any fictional creature that is somewhat hideous and usually produces mental fear by either its appearance or its actions. The word itself, “monster” derives from the Latin monstrum, which is an aberrant occurrence, usually biological, that was taken as a sign that something was wrong within the natural order.

A simple Batman face painting – just add a dark cape and you would be all set.

Batman is a fictional, comic book superhero character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. Batman first appeared in the comic book, Detective Comics # 27 in May 1939. Batman is sometimes referred to as, “Caped Crusader.” Batman’s crime-fighting partner is Robin. Some of villains of the crime-fighting duo include the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman.

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