Skull Face Painting for Newbies

a boy looking at the camera with an skull face paint design
Kristin Olsson — 06 October 2019 —

Skeleton face paint is popular all year round but the demand is certainly increasing with Halloween just around the corner!

This flaming skull is super easy skeleton face paints to paint because it is mostly made in one stroke technique.

And also, the absence of the paint around the eyes makes this design suitable even for the smallest children!

Read to the end of this post to see a bonus reel Men’s Sugar Skull tutorial by Milena Potekhina! You won’t want to miss this design.

Confused with what tools you need to start face painting? We’ve compiled this Ultimate Face Painting SUPPLIES Guide where you can find direct links to the best face painting materials to start off like a pro!

Get Your Beginner Skeleton Face Paint Kit Here

Step 1: The Main Shape of Halloween Skull Face Paint

For the main shape of this skeleton Halloween makeup, I use a black and white one stroke with a ⅝” angled brush. The split-cake I have is a homemade one consisting of white, silver and black.

If you want to buy one of your own, there is a good option from Cameleon called “swan” that I can also recommend using.

a boy with an uncomplete skull face paint around his eyes
Tip: For best results, you’ll need specialized face painting brushes. And they aren’t cheap, true. Find out how to take care properly of your brushes in our Brush Care article and make them last for a lifetime!

In the photo below, you can see how I shape the skull design, taking care that the lines are all flowing towards the focal points — the central FP between the eyes and top FP on the top of the forehead.

Also, when you angle the shape of the eyes like this, it automatically gives the appearance of a more sinister look.

a boy with an uncomplete skull face paint with arrows that present focal points

Are you just starting out? Read the most complete Beginner’s Guide for face painters and find out how to face paint like a pro!

Step 2: Fill in the Empty Space of the Skeleton Face Paint

I then move on to fill in the empty spaces with white. I recommend using a glycerin-based white for this step, like for example Superstar/FAB or Mehron Paradise. Not only are they easier to blend with other colors — but they also feel more comfortable on the skin.

Also, as you can see, the white is not very opaque. This comes in handy when I add some stenciled details with white paint in a later step.

You can find out more about glycerin-based paints, wax-based paint and other types of paints, as well as what they serve for and where to get them in our special Ultimate Guide on Face Paints.

a boy with an uncomplete skull face paint around his face except the forehead

Step 3: More One Stroke Details

When I have filled in the empty space of my Halloween skull face paint, I return to my black and white one stroke again and add a few more details. You can just add the nose area and skip the rest of the linework I have added here.

Like for example, if you have a really long line then this step is not necessary — but I do like to add some more depth and details to my designs when I have the time to spare.

a boy looking at the camera with an almost finished design of a skull face painting

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Step 4: Add Flames to Spice Up Your Halloween Skeleton Face Paint

With a ½” angled brush and a flame one stroke (I used TAG flame one stroke here), I paint some cool flames emerging from the top of the skull!

As you can see, I use the darkest color on the outside edge of the flames. This gives the flames a more realistic look.

With my black and white one stroke that I already have on my other brush, I fill in the empty spaces so that it looks like the flames are coming out from the inside of the skull.

a boy with an uncomplete skull face paint around his face and flames on his forehead
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Step 5: Add More Details and Stencils on Your Halloween Skull Face Paint

I love stencils! When used correctly, they are such an amazing tool to help you make a design go from great to “Wow!”

In making Halloween skeleton face paint, I used my Half Ass Organic set — one of my favorites at the moment — to add texture to the skull. I used DFX white for the stenciling, and you can see how this pops nicely against the more subtle white in the background.

I also used a small round brush and painted some more details in the flames, picking up the colors from my flame one stroke cake.

Again, these steps are optional and can be skipped if you have a long line. But like I already mentioned, I do like to add some more details to my skeleton Halloween makeup when I have the time and a patient model at hand.

And finally, I also added some teeth to the skull face paint design.

For those, I used a flora brush loaded with white and dipped the tip in black to give the teeth a little more dimension.

a boy looking at the camera with a flaming skull face paint design on his face
Tip: By the way, you can find the complete list of stencils that our instructors recommend for beginners, professionals and themed parties in the Ultimate face painting STENCILS Guide.

Step 6: Skeleton Face Paint Linework

Using one of my favorite brushes, Ultra point round #4 from Blazin Brush, and DFX black, I work my way around the skull.

The reason I really like this brush is that it allows me to make both really thin and crisp brush strokes, as well as more thick ones in one go. I outline the design and also add a few more details on the skull to bring it to life.

As you can see, I have also added a bit more detail in the flames here with a dark red/burgundy color as I wanted the flames to pop a bit more than they already did.

Usually, I would recommend outlining the whole design, but notice that I have not added a black outline to the flames, only to the skull — a black outline on the flames here would look very hard and not very realistic.

a boy looking at the camera with a finished design of a skull face painting

Could you ever imagine that Kristin, the author of this article and one of the instructors of the International Face Painting School was also a beginner and a student at the School? It’s hard to believe, but that wasn’t that long time ago!

Kristin made it into top-level professionals and one of the best face painters of the world in just two short years! Check out her incredible progress pictures and read about other impressive achievements of our students and graduates in The Payoff: The Graduates of 2018 Discuss Their Success & The Investment They Made in Themselves.

Step 7: Dry Brush to Complete Your Easy Skeleton Face Paint

For the very last step, I go over the design and dry brush the black line work. I hardly ever take the time to do this on the job – but if you have the time to add it to your design I highly recommend that you do it.

It adds a bit of softness to the overall look and really brings your design to life.

a boy with a complete skull face paint design

Looking for more Halloween inspiration? Check out our other incredible tutorials:
Old Joker vs New Joker face painting tutorial
Zombie face painting tutorial

Bonus Design Tutorial


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

 — Kristin Olsson

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