Popular Leopard Face Painting Tutorial by Milena Potekhina

Milena Potekhina — 04 February 2024 —

You probably know cat designs are a hit in the face painting world, from kitty cats to fierce tigers and other wild cats, it’s one of the most requested designs.

In this tutorial, the world-famous Russian artist, Milena Potekhina, will guide you as you face paint a cute spotted leopard perfect for girls, but easily adapted for boy face paint too!

Whether you’re a face painting enthusiast or just starting, this tutorial will break down the process for you into simple steps

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Face Paint Buying Guide

Step 1

Using a sponge and white paint, draw the muzzle and the inner part of the ears. Keep in mind that even though a leopard is a cat, its ears are round.

Next, with the help of a sponge and any split cake with a gradient from gold to orange or brown, paint the background for the mask. It’s best if you can use a petal-shaped sponge.

If you place the sharp part near the inner corner of the eye, you can easily create cheeks of an optimal size. Try not to take the base too far down the cheek to avoid enlarging the size of the mask which can make it look droopy.

Optionally, you can use a finger dauber to apply blush to the cheeks. To do this, mix a golden color with red.

You can also paint the lower lip with this color to make your mask even cuter. But skip this step if you’re limited on time or want the design to be more masculine.

Tip: Ever wonder how a painter can have a menu of 40+ designs all at the ready? The secret is to use the same cat base with just a few tweaks to create several designs that look more different than they are! Work smarter, not harder. ;) Check out our Cheetah tutorial by Wies and Cat tutorial by Annabel to grow your menu the easy way!

Step 2

Using a ½ inch angled brush and a split cake with a stretch from orange to black or dark brown, you need to outline all the details of our mask.

It’s good to accentuate the fluffiness on the cheeks and ears using shorter strokes to create a fur-like effect.

However, do not change the direction of the brush; otherwise, you will end up with an untidy outline, and the animal will look unkempt.

Try not to press too hard on the brush, just lightly touching the surface while drawing. This way, your outline will be clean and precise.

To achieve a flattering look, it’s essential to outline the eyes. Connect the edge of the ears to the inner corner of the eye along the child’s natural brow line.

Continue this line to outline the muzzle. This will enhance the leopard face and bring the whole look together.

Step 3

Using a round #2 brush and waxy black paint like DFX, draw the nose and spots on the forehead and upper parts of the cheeks.

The painted nose should be kept to the lowest part of the child’s nose.

When drawing spots on a leopard face, keep in mind that the largest spot on the forehead should be at the top. As the spots move inward, they should gradually decrease in size.

This principle also applies to the spots on the cheeks. Start with the largest spot near the outer corner of the eye, and as you move toward the center of the face, make the spots progressively smaller.

Also, use the black color to draw teardrops near the inner corners of the eyes and guidelines for the whiskers on the muzzle.

Tip: Wondering why your designs sometimes end up looking wonky, while the inspiration photos are always balanced and beautiful? Our students find these 7 tips about symmetry really helpful, especially tip no.4!

Step 4

Using a liner #1 brush and waxy white paint, draw whiskers, fangs, and a highlight between the black teardrops and the line where the muzzle connects to the ears.

This line will simply add contrast to the mask, which gives the finished design that extra WOW factor.

Are your white lines consistently blurred or not crisp? It’s not always the choice of paint. Wondering how to achieve a creamy consistency for flawless white details and outlines? Join our 3-day FREE Linework Workshop to perfect your strokes! 😍

Roar-some job! I hope you enjoyed this leopard face paint tutorial! Don’t be afraid of more complex designs, as they can be broken down into small steps.

If you’re just starting out, you can simplify some steps, like swapping a large split cake for a single color or simply outlining with black.

The key is practice! Keep learning, and you’ll soon be confident in using all paints and techniques, from split cakes to one-stroke paints, unlocking endless possibilities.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments! We’d also love to see and share your artwork, so please tag us at @milena_faceartist and @facepaintingschool if you try this design!

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 — Milena Potekhina

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