How to Face Paint - Step 7: Face Painting Design Components

Once you have the basic elements of face painting down, you need to start working on your designs. There are 4 very important aspects to keep in mind for a face painting design to work:

  • Focal Point or Flow
  • Balance
  • Position
  • Color

We have already covered focal points when talking about line work on a previous post: "How To Face Paint: Focal Point For Your Line Work" but make sure to keep the focal point/s in mind when face painting your background shapes as well.


Think as if your face painting design was put on a scale and divide the design in half (in whichever direction you might like to); will the scale tip on one side? If that is the case your design is unbalanced. Sometimes that unbalance is an intentional thing and it can look good, although most of the time if the design is unbalanced in one direction it is balanced in a different direction.

I would suggest that if you are just starting to face paint you work on creating balanced designs. If you work with symmetry it will be easy to create balanced designs. The easiest starting point is to simply divide the face in 4 quarters using the nose bridge as the center for them. For the face painting design to be balanced make sure that the design is equally distributed in between all 4 quarters.

Once you are capable of creating balanced designs you can work on creating some imbalance or asymmetry. For example, you can create designs that are balanced when divided vertically in half right through the center, but unbalanced when dividing them through the center horizontally. A clear example for that is the typical butterfly face painting design.

Get creative and think of different ways to get there. Remember, balance doesn’t mean symmetry, although symmetry does help to create balance.


Learning how to position your face painting designs on to the face is a very important skill to have. There are no general rules as to where a design should be but I can give you some tips to keep in mind.

Unless you are going for a full face design I would suggest for you try to keep your design above the cheekbones. Most face painting masks, butterfly designs and other designs that concentrate around the eyes look best when kept above the cheekbones.

Try not covering the entire forehead when face painting. A lot of times leaving an empty “V” shape in the middle helps make your design look better, although that is not always true. A rainbow across the forehead can look great even though you are not leaving an empty “V” shape.

Wrapping your design around the eyes is always a good choice and you can hardly ever go wrong if you go in that direction. More recently, new trends have come up when painters choose to paint a design focused on the nose (nose art), the eyebrows, eye lids or even the lips (lip art). You can get creative and play around with your face painting designs.


A lot can be said about color and it is not the purpose of this post to cover every aspect of it, but the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing colors for your face painting designs is that the colors must look good together and they should be balanced as well. If your design is too dark at the top and too light at the bottom it might look unbalanced. Colors can be highly contrasting, or blend nicely together in a gradient, either way works. But, keep in mind that although Green and Red can make a great Christmas face painting design, when mixed together they make brown, so you need to plan your design for it to work with the colors you chose. Remember that color can also change a design even if the overall shapes and position are the same. This is great because you can paint the same butterfly face painting design using different color combinations and obtain a completely different look. You can use pastel colors for a more gentle look (think baby blue, baby pink) or use darker bolder colors for a more mature look (think dark purple, dark blue, fuchsia).

We will go over some color theory on a later post. In the mean time, here is a color wheel you can download to start playing with it.

Previous article How to Face Paint - Step 6: Focal Point for your Line Work
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