Quick Face Painting Ideas for Every Occasion

Quick Face Painting: ideas, tutorials and inspiration
Kelli Zermeño — 21 May 2019 —


Most of us have been there… and if you haven’t yet… get ready! You’re at a busy gig, painting all the unicorns and Black Panthers their little hearts desire when you look up and realize *cue dramatic music* 😨😨 that you have approximately 75 impatient children with their eye-rolling moms and dads desperately trying to bribe them OUT of your line!

Don’t let that money get away!

What’s an artist to do?!

Take a deep breath and get in the zone. Pull out that rainbow one stroke and start flying through your quick designs as if your mortgage payment depended on it!

When it comes to PPF (paid-per-face) events, you don’t want to completely eliminate full face designs. Those are your big money.

However, modifying them slightly using one stroke or leaving out a few highlights and starbursts will save you a great deal of time.

If parents can see that you are flying through your line and still maintaining a happy face and great work… they’ll not only stay, but they’ll likely give you a lovely tip and request a business card as well.

Tip: Click here to download this super useful “Top 10 products a face painter needs” handout! It’s FREE!

One Stroke

Two of the most glorious words in all of face painting. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

The original one stroke technique was developed by craft artist Donna Dewberry for acrylic painting. She has some stellar ideas that can be translated into face painting.

The use of split cakes to create multi-toned, multi-dimensional objects and designs is a massive time saver and gives a huge wow-factor for your clients as they watch you magically create roses, rainbows, and dinosaurs with a few swipes of the brush.

The great part about implementing quick one-stroke designs is that you can make them look great with minimal time and embellishment, but if your line slows down, you can certainly dress them up even more.

four images of a step-by-step painting of a gradient blue dog

Here are a few quick and fabulous SBS tutorials from our School instructor, Kristin Olsson, using a petal sponge, split cake and round brush!

a four image step-by-step presentation of creating a gradient yellow to purple bird
Tip: Did you know that Kristin Olsson became a world renown face painter and instructor in two short years? 😮😮😮 She is now part of the International Face Painting School team, her designs are unique and her teaching skills are even better!
Check out more about Kristin the exclusive Interview: “Kristin Olsson: From Novice to Expert in Two Short Years“.

four images of a step-by-step painting of a gradient purple cat

This fantastic One Stroke Dragon Tutorial by School founder Olga Murasev, shows you how to make a quick and impressive dragon, sure to impress kids and parents alike!


Experiment with using one stroke for the bulk of your designs, yes even full face options. It can often cut down on time you would’ve spent adding in highlights and shading, especially when you’re in a hurry.

Here are a few other YouTube tutorials to check out:
Rainbow Heart Princess
Easy Realistic Snake
The Good Dinosaur
Easy Rose Princess Mask
Batman Mask

Want to learn the most popular designs? Our World’s Best Face Painting Ideas Guide has top requested designs for boys, girls, Halloween, Christmas, themed parties, and more!


No. Before you even say it. Stencils are not cheating. Corey Morgan said it best:

Stencils aren’t “cheating” any more than it’s considered “cheating” when a plumber uses a wrench, or when a surgeon uses a scalpel. Ever see a Doctor pull a kid’s tonsils out with his bare hands? No. He has TOOLS for that. So do we.

A stencil is a tool, just like a sponge or a paintbrush. We create new tools and techniques to improve our product. It still takes skill and practice for us to be able to use them properly.

Corey Morgan

There are many elements that honestly look far better and cleaner with stencils (think clouds, stars, tiny hearts or leaves). Additionally, stencils can add a fun textural element, wording, or simply cut down on the time you have to spend painting a design.

Tip: Do you need to up your stencil game? Check out The Great Face Paint Shop Guide to help you find the best shops to order from!

Use them either as a main component, or to quickly add finishing touches to your designs. Combine them with one stroke color and sparkles for a quick yet fun line-busting design!

Here are a few fast and fabulous designs for you to try!
Batman Mask
Super Quick Snowman
Watercolor Mermaid
Quick Fairy
Split Cake Graffiti Eye

Double Dip Flowers

These little buggers are an absolute lifesaver when you have a line a mile long! When properly executed, double and even triple dip flowers make a beautiful and versatile stand-alone design and can add a lot of depth and interest to additional designs as well.

Though it is not completely necessary to have a “flora” brush, they make the job far easier and more consistent.

Tip:  In our Online Course we dedicate an entire module to double dip technique, with everything you need to know about it, from best tools, to how to hold your brush, various techniques, and tutorials on how to achieve long cluster petals and bold, heart-shaped petals that work best for flowers.

Olga uses a #6 Loew Cornell yellow handle brush from the 795 series. I prefer the Loew Cornell #10 Flora brush 7000 series, but they can be a challenge to find (when you find them, stock up!). You can also find quality flora brushes through many of your favorite face painting shops own bespoke lines.

Practice this Easy Flower Fairy design from Olga and add it to your menu of options, your clients will love it!

Tools for Perfect Double Dip Flowers” is a fantastic read if you want to go even further in your quest for perfect petals! 🌸🌼🌺

It takes a bit of practice, but once you’ve mastered these pretty petals, you’ll be incorporating them into so many designs!

three different flowers face painting designs from three different artists

Try out these great tutorials utilizing your newfound double dip petal skills:
Fancy Eye Design
Rainbow with Double Dip Flowers
Fast Flowers Mask
Swan Eye Design

Teardrops, Swirls and Tribal Lines

You can’t be serious, right? How am I supposed to make a living off some swirls?! Look here sassy paints, you are vastly underestimating the simplistic beauty that a few well-placed swirls and teardrops can bring to the table.

When executed properly, they can not only enhance your double dip flowers and one stroke butterflies, but they can also provide a quick and beautiful design all on their own. As far as tribal is concerned, don’t feel intimidated. Think of it as the masculine counterpart to the swirl.

Tribal lines are simply teardrop type lines and swirls with sharp tips.

These tutorials will show you the beauty of a beautifully executed teardrop!
Swirl Exercise
Heart Valentines Mask
Pretty Mardi Gras Mask
Tribal Princess
Tribal Eye Mask

Do you feel as though your linework could use some improvement? Never fear! We’ve actually developed a completely FREE workshop that includes printable templates guaranteed to improve your work and up your paint game.

Free Online Workshop - Improve Your Linework in 3 Days

All That Glitters is Gold

That being said… do yourself a favor and jump on the festival glitter train! Toot toot! Festival glitter is sooooooooo much fun and super popular.

Watch and see how it takes a nice design and really makes it pop. And, you can even offer festival glitter as a stand-alone design. Oh yes, if you offer it, they will come.

I want to add a little trendy tidbit in here as well! If you haven’t heard of Incendium Arts new Essential Glitter Balm… prepare to have your mind blown. This glitter balm is NOT like the current festival glitter gels on the market. It’s unique wax-based formula actually suspends the glitter in a smudge-free base, making it usable ON TOP of your precious face paint designs!

Yes, that’s right! It won’t smudge! Until recently it was only available to order online in Australia through Looney Bin, but Incendium’s founder Nicole Weiler shared with me this winter that her new U.S. distributor is Jest Paint! 👐 The balms have been used by the likes of Nancy Wu and Prima Barton and are so popular down under that world-wide distributors are working to bring them to YOU!

Don’t forget glitter’s sparkly cousin… the bling cluster. Oh, how I love bling!

As with glitter, you can offer bling as design all by her gorgeous self (I love pairing it with a swipe of festival glitter) or you can use it to enhance your face paint offerings. Bling makes your designs pop and it takes all of 30 seconds to apply a single bling cluster. Boom!

You’ve just added several dollars value to your “simple design” in as much time as you’d need to apply a sticker!

We are a bit passionate about the sparkly stuff… so passionate in fact, that we wrote a 2-part article about it. And we aren’t one bit ashamed! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our Bling Blog. You’re welcome. 😘

Keep It Simple

Often times, we feel like we have to fill up the entire face to give each child a quality design and it simply isn’t so. For quick OTJ designs, a well-executed design is key.

This will ensure each of your little customers walks away happy, even if their parents decided on a smaller design. Their happiness is your golden ticket.

Offering little boys a quick one-stroke forehead Batman (my personal fast go-to for squirmy boys), instead of a full-face Batman design… or some cute snowflakes and swirls instead of Elsa’s entire crown are great alternatives when parents simply do not want their child’s entire face painted… or, you are nearing the end of your allotted time and you need to get those kids painted and sent on their merry way!

There are so many ways to incorporate their favorite characters, sports teams and simply spectacular looking designs into your quick or less expensive options. You still get the sale, and your clients walk away happy. You’d be shocked at how much money you can make at a busy gig doing mainly simple designs.

Enhance small, simple designs with dots, starbursts, swirls, tribal lines or a quick stencil to really make them pop. If you are just getting started in the biz, welcome! We wrote a special article for you, The Ultimate Face Painting Guide for Beginners.

And if you’d like to research how to become a professional face painter and make a living out of this sparkling career full of joy, then WE HAVE THE ANSWER! Take a class at our School! You are gonna love it! 😍

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! 👇👇👇

 — Kelli Zermeño

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