Cartoon cupid tutorial

Posted by Elizabeth Mackinney on


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I wanted to do a few fun designs for you to go with it, as you may have Valentine’s Day parties coming up. This design features a cute cartoon cupid. Before you try it on a client, make sure you practice it a few times. (If you’re not careful with the placement of the facial features, you will end up with what looks more like an elderly man dressed in a diaper than a young cherub!)


TAG skin tone palette
Diamond FX or Wolfe white
TAG light blue
TAG royal blue
TAG yellow
TAG orange
Paradise red
Paradise pink
#3 round brush
#1 round brush
Gold cosmetic glitter


1. Begin by placing two white ovals for the eyes. You’ll build the rest of your design around these. It’s a good idea, until you’ve become used to it, to draw out your body shapes before filling them in with color.


Paying close attention to where the eyes are in relation to your other lines, draw the bottom of the face, the two ears, and the body. The face is really important to making your cupid look young. Make sure the nose is small, and that the mouth is about half-way up. The jaw should not be too large.


Next, outline the leg.



Add the bow before you add the arms. This will give you the hand placement, and from here, you can connect the arms to the body. If you don’t do the bow first, it’s likely to end up dead center on cupid’s face.


I used TAG yellow for the wings, and for the skin color, I chose the second darkest color in the TAG skin tone palette. Fill in the wings and skin tone of your choice, using the #3 round brush. I chose the #3 because it was big enough to carry enough paint in the bristles for what I wanted to do, but it was also small enough to get in the little corners of this design.


For outlining, I chose the fourth color on the TAG skin tone palette. (On one of my earlier attempts, I tried the fifth one, but it was a little too dark in comparison to the overall skin tone on this cupid. You can experiment to find out which combinations you prefer.) Load your #1 round brush and carefully outline the body parts so cupid looks less like a winged blob and more like a cherub on a mission.


Fill in the center portions of the eyes with TAG royal blue and your #3 or #1 round. Outline the wings with TAG orange, as well. For the hair, it seemed blond would be lost in the wings, so I used the fifth brown on the skin tone palette.


I used the same brown and my #1 round brush to carefully add my bow and arrow. Pay attention to the shape of the bow. It’s really two shallow S-curves for the front portion, and if you keep this shape, it will be a more realistic and dynamic bow shape that you’d get from a straight line.


You’re almost finished. Use your #1 round brush and white to add a few highlights to the cupid’s body.


As you repeat a design, you not only become better at painting it, but you find little details which you’ve left out. The first time I painted my cupid, I left out the hearts. It didn’t look quite right to me, and finally I realized I had forgotten them, so I repainted it and added them. Not only do they add the Valentine’s Day touch, but they complete the color triad of red, yellow, and blue, making it a more visually appealing design.


I hope you enjoy painting this starry-eyed, mischievous cupid and his bow and arrow this Valentine’s season!

Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in the NW Chicago suburbs. She also writes for as the Chicago Face Painting Examiner.

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