Tutorial: Tribal Arm Design With Shimmering Rainbow Metallics

When it comes to teens, you can never predict what design they'll choose at an event. (Like the time I ended up doing full face eagles on about six teens at one party, just because it was incredibly funny to them at the moment.) But usually you can count on girls to prefer exaggerated fantasy makeup, or the boys to choose designs which feature their favorite sport or team, or either gender to want tribals designs. It's not uncommon for many teens to prefer arm designs rather than face designs anyway, so in the hot summer months when teens don't want something on the face, this tribal arm design which has been jazzed up with Kryvaline Glowgaze colors is a good option. 


Black face paint (Diamond FX or Wolfe)
White face paint (Diamond FX or Wolfe)
Kryvaline Glowgaze split cake
Cosmetic grade glitter (optional)
#6 round brush (or #8 round brush)
#2 round brush


Begin by loading your large brush with black. I used a Loew Cornell round #8 for this, but you could also use a #6 if you prefer it. 

Add some curved lines (thorns) coming off the original shape. 

Allow the next shape to flow from the first. 

Continue down the arm. One of the suggestions I've heard in tribal design classes is to make sure that you do not use one element without using it a second time. So if you have one circular element, you must have a second one somewhere else in the design as well. This applies to all of the tribal elements you use. 

I ended the design with some symmetrical shapes reflecting each other at the bottom, just before I reached the elbow.

Next, load your #2 round brush well with the metallic red on your Kryvaline Glowgaze split. The black you painted originally must be dry before you paint on top of it, but follow the same design with your brush, trying to keep to the middle of the black. 

As you move down the arm, move across the Glowgaze split cake, using red, pink, purple, blue, and then yellow. 

If you've practiced enough to be very skilled with your tribals, you won't need this step, but I loaded my #2 round brush with black and went back to touch up any areas I felt weren't smooth enough or didn't have sharp points. 


In an event situation, practicing tribal strokes in advance will become important, because you'll be able to work more quickly and your strokes will be more sure. (Black is an unforgiving color.) Also, make sure you've invested in good brushes which will help you achieve a sharp line. 

Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in Elgin, Illinois, and her artwork has appeared in The Colored Palette and SkinMarkz magazines. She services the western and northwestern Chicago suburbs, Chicago’s north side, and the eastern and southeastern suburbs of Rockford. Stop by to enjoy more of Beth’s face painting tutorials.