Easy Lion Face Paint for Beginners

a girl with a lion face paint design painted on the upper half of her face
Rosie Lieberman — 07 September 2020 —

In this tutorial, I will show you how to paint a fast yet impressive on-the-job lion! This design will make your line run fast and your clients roar with happiness. 😉


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Step 1. Mark out the muzzle area and sketch the face shape

With Kryolan white and a small filbert brush, I painted the muzzle area, making sure it was very rounded. The muzzle should be extended outwards, at least to the midpoint of each of the model’s eyes.

Using the edge of the large filbert brush and some golden yellow paint, I then sketched out the shape of the head: starting at the outer corner of the eye, I made a slightly curved line down to meet the middle point of the muzzle, where it is at it’s roundest. I quickly painted the shape under the eye and repeated the process on the other side.

To mark the top half of the face, I made another curved line from the outer corner of the eye upwards, past the outer tip of the eyebrow, and stopping about 0.5 cm above it. I then repeated the process on the other side of the face.

Sketching the ears, I made sure they extended out further than the rest of the face and that the inner ear line pointed towards the middle of the face. I then joined the ears with a curved line to mark the top of the face.

a girl with an outline of a lion face paint design
Tip: Glycerin-based paint around the nose area in large patches is more comfortable on the skin than waxy paint (like Diamond FX).

Step 2. Fill in the face shape

After the shape was sketched, it was really easy to fill in the block with yellow, using the large filbert brush.

I waited for the paint on my brush to dry a little and go slightly sticky and then I dragged the yellow paint further down the nose, making a flicking motion with the brush.

Extending the yellow sideways past the bridge of the nose gives the illusion of a wide nose, typical of big cats.

a girl with a base of a lion face paint design without a mane on her
Tip: You could also use sponges for the white and yellow colors here, but for on-the-job a large filbert brush is ideal for covering large areas of the face evenly and quickly with color.
It’s rounded shape and thin edges are also great for drawing precisely and filling in awkward shapes (like under the eyes in this design).

Step 3. Create shadows and textures

I loaded one end of the sponge with copper shimmer paint and created the eyebrow markings, so distinctive in large cats. They sit partially on the eyebrow and at a 45° vertical angle, pointing to the center of the face.

To make the forehead markings, I made a triangular patch with the copper shimmer, then turned the sponge over and used the clean sponge back to blend the edges into the yellow.

If the paint is already too dry to blend, pick up some yellow on the back of the sponge, and use it to blend the copper edges out. I then loaded the other end of the sponge with brown and created the ear and the eyeshadows.

a girl with a base of a lion face paint design on her face
Tip: Using a round-edged sponge allows you to paint the desired shape of color more precisely.

4. Mark out the mane

I thoroughly washed my large filbert brush, reloaded it with brown, and painted the mane patches, making sure the widest was on the top of the head and the narrowest part touched the muzzle.

a girl with a compleated base of a lion face paint design on her

Feeling overwhelmed or pressed for time? Thinking you will never be able to practice this design? Go through our amazing blog post on Time Management and learn how to save some time for your projects!

5. Add the fur and nose

Using the edge of the same brush I created a fluffy look to the mane, making sure the spikes of fur all follow the curve of the face and point down towards the direction of the nose.

Next, with a no. 4 round brush, I added a pink triangle for the nose. Again, I made sure the pink extended beyond the model’s actual nose to help with the illusion of the wide lion nose.

a girl with an unfinished lion face paint design

6. Outline in black

Using the no.3 round brush and DFX black I outlined everything, starting with the muzzle, then ears, fur, nose, and finally the eye arches.

a girl with an outlined base of a lion face paint design on her face

Want to add to your zoo of fun animal designs? This monkey tutorial will teach you a cute, fun, and recognizable way to paint a monkey that can be girly or not.

7. Add the white highlights

To make the design pop out, I added white highlights on the mane, top of the ears and nose with the no. 2 brush and DFX white. I also added a few white whiskers.

And to finish it off, loading a damp cotton bud with copper paint, I gave my model lovely shimmery lips (optional).

a girl with a compleated lion face paint design
Tip: To paint fine whiskers, load with white and then roll the brush tip into a point on the paint (or on your arm).
a girl with a compleated lion face paint design with arrows pointing to focal points
Tip: Keep in mind that all your lines must virtually connect in one central focal point, which will make this design look truly balanced and elegant. Learn more about the Focal Points in our Free Guide for Professional face painters.

And if you are willing to sink deeper into the amazing face painting world, then why not Take a Class at our School!? 🥳

Take a Class at the International Face Painting School


Did you enjoy this tutorial? Hit “SHARE” and let your fellow face painters know about it! 👇👇👇

 — Rosie Lieberman

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