Zebra Face Paint: Striking and Creative Ideas

a woman with a zebra face paint design on her face looking at the camera
Simona Rad — 31 July 2023 —

Congratulations on finding a zebra face paint design that looks great without requiring a child’s whole nose and mouth to be painted in black. Though the coloring is simple, zebras are not a no-brainer design.

When executed poorly, they can be very messy and even downright terrifying when big black snouts are painted on children who are eating, drinking and sweating.

This tutorial will teach you to paint this perfectly designed face paint zebra which avoids these issues with expert placement.

The end result is recognizable, neat, and impressive.

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter, “Face Paint Insights” to find your signature style.

Materials used:

Step 1:

Using white paint and a round brush we create a sketch for our zebra following the focal points and our model’s face structure. Outer corner of the eye will be a guide for our cheeks and forehead delimitation.

We do not pass the eyebrows on the side – their ends will be our guide as well. Cheeks borders will end nicely in an ‘S’ shape going towards the model’s nostrils.

Zebra’s forehead will occupy two thirds of our model’s forehead- not more and not less.

a woman looking at the camera with subtle whitle lines outlining the zebra face paint design
Tip: All these guidelines will ensure that our design will be balanced and will fit our model’s face in an harmonious way.

Good to know: Once you learn this design and practise it several times, you can skip the sketching part.

Step 2:

Using the big filbert brush loaded with waxy white, we follow the sketch and fill in all the sides, leaving out the eyelids and the middle of the face. No need to worry about blending it for now.
a woman looking at the camera with whitle paint around her nose and eyes

Step 3:

We are filling in the zebra’s head shape using a sponge loaded with glycerin white, making sure we blend in the previous brush strokes. The result should be a smooth base for our zebra design.

a woman looking at the camera with a compleated base for her zebra face paint desing
Tip: If you are a master in controlling the sponge, you can skip step 2 and save time while on the job.

Face Paint Buying Guide

Want to understand how to use your paints to their advantage? You can learn key information about the most popular paint brands, what their primary ingredient is (waxy vs. glycerin vs. acacia gum), and how to use them like an expert in our Face Paint Buying Guide.

Step 4:

Using the small filbert brush loaded with black, we paint the zebra’s nose – going past our model’s own nose a bit to create the illusion of a wide zebra nose.

The lower edges should be crisp and clean, while the top edge(where the black meets the white) should be faded – if you paint the nose with a single brush load and start from the bottom of the nose moving upwards, by the time you reach the top area, your brush will have a dry paint consistency and will enable you to create a smooth ending for the nose.

Later we will further blend that area using thin lines.

On top of our zebra’s forehead we will paint 3 teardrops: a large one in an ‘S’ shape in the middle, a medium one and a small one on the sides – both curved.

We paint the teardrops tight next to each other to create a tuft of hair – representing the very start of a zebra’s mane.

a woman with a conture of a zebra face paint design now with illustrated nose and hair
Tip: Don’t miss our panda face paint tutorial where we teach you how to avoid overly heavy black eyes. Keep your pandas looking happy and cute!

Step 5:

Using our small round brush loaded with black, we outline the entire design and add fine lines going from the nose towards the forehead varying their length.

a woman with a zebra face paint with details on the ears but without stripes
Tip: For a wow effect, connect the side lines from the nose to the inner corners of the eyes – make sure the lines are not bold or thick. Always check your paint consistency when painting eyeliner. If it is too wet, it can drip into the eyes, which will hurt for your client and will ruin your design!

Each ear is made out of an elongated rhombus shape and connected to the zebra’s head with two vertical lines starting from the side points of the rhombus and going straight down.

We also add some flicked teardrops in the lower part of our rhombus shape for each ear to create some hair.

Tip: Did you know that white and black paint need a different consistency to perform their best? These face painting tips that people aren’t talking about can be make or break for your designs! Learn how to activate and use face paints correctly here so your designs won’t suffer from the many downfalls of incorrect paint consistency.

Step 6:

Add the zebra lines using the big round brush loaded with black.

Start from the forehead with 3 stripes on each side:

  • first one will start from the top and will curve going towards the nose and avoiding the eyebrow in the process;
  • the second one will start from the ear, making the same curve and will cross the eyebrow going towards the middle of the face – still pointing to the nose;
  • and the third one will start from the end of the eyebrow making a slightly smaller curve and will be connected to the inner corner of the eyes.

We finish the forehead lines by filling in the middle using slightly thinner lines (we will only use the tip of our brush and will reduce the pressure applied when making the teardrops) – these lines are more irregular but they will all go towards the focal point between the eyes and will have very thin ends.

For each cheek we will again have 3 stripes. First one is the big one – right under the eye that will start from the top part of the cheek and will go towards the nostril in an ‘S’ shape following the natural anatomy of the eye.

The second one will start from the middle of the cheek and will follow the same direction as the first one. The starting of the stripe should be bold and wide while the end of it should be super thin. This detail will add flow to your design.

The third stripe will have just a tiny space left and will follow just the end part of our ‘S’ shape – so it will almost have a ‘C’ shape.

a portrait shot of a woman with a zebra face paint design on her face
Tip:If we work within the space we have and make sure: the lines don’t touch, the lines start bold and end super thin and that they go towards our focal point – the result will be clean and harmonious.

Struggling with symmetry? These 7 tips will help tremendously to keep your designs even, balanced, and symmetrical!

Step 7 (optional)

While this step can be skipped most of the time, it is one that makes our design more realistic and gives it a complete look.

a shot of a woman looking at the camera at an angle with a zebra face paint design on her face

Using a blender brush and a wet wipe for moisturising our brush, we blend the black into the white using dragging motions: for the fur in the ears – going upwards, for the top of the forehead going downwards and for the nose going again upwards.

We can also add some shading under the eyes at the end – when our brush has some black paint left from the blending.

a woman posing with a compleated zebra face paint design on her face

And we are done! Our zebra has all the needed features to amaze everyone around! And the best part? The child wearing this design can eat without worries – no black paint will interfere!

a girl with a zebra face paint design with arrows pointing to focal points

Let me know if you have any questions and don’t forget to tag me if you join in the fun and try this awesome design! I would love to see your creations.

You can contact me/tag me on Instagram: @radsimona17

Your Next Step:

Learn how to take the best of a design you like and use it to inspire your own unique artwork! It’s a chance to get to know yourself as an artist while you build the skill of viewing inspiration like an innovator.

Want more quality designs like this one? Get inspired by designs, tutorials, and videos from top face painters from all over the world in our Ultimate Face Painting Ideas Guide!

 — Simona Rad

Join The Premier Online Community

For Face Painters

Subscribe today to receive expert tips and tricks, fresh face painting ideas, step-by-steps, and more.

35000+ Subscribers
140 Blog posts
2500 Students
70+ Countries