Graffiti Dragon Arm Design


I don’t do many public events, and most of those I do paint at are a race to keep the line to less than an hour wait. But if you’ll be doing some festivals this summer, and you need some unusual design ideas to attract people to your booth, here’s a dramatic dragon design which should have good appeal for teens and adults passing by. It takes a little longer, but as a piece of art, it will be something you could charge more for as well. Add glitter, gems, and liquid bling to give it more girl-appeal or to add value.


#5 round brush for painting
#5 round brush (dry) for blending
#1 round brush
#2 round brush
Diamond FX black face paint
Diamond FX white face paint
TAG yellow face paint
TAG orange face paint
Paradise red face paint


1. Lisa Joy Young gives excellent advice for creating designs. She says that you should first outline the design with white when you’re in the planning stage. The great thing about using white is that it’s easy to remove, so changes from the early stage don’t show up in the finished product. While creating this design, I strongly suggest that you outline with your Diamond FX white first.

Start by outlining the letters and then draw the dragon shape around them, making sure to center the head over the first letter and coil the body down around the letters.


2. Next, color in the letters with TAG yellow, using the tip of a #5 round brush. The letters should overlap each other a little bit so they’re connected.


3. Load the same #5 round brush with orange. Begin to add some orange to the bottom of each letter, blending it up into the yellow with a second #5 round brush which is dry. Blend up into the yellow as you go, because if you wait until you’ve added orange to all the letters before you blend, the first ones will be too dry for this to work effectively.


4. Alternate between the #5 round brush and the #2 round brush as necessary for painting in your dragon shape with Paradise red. You can stick with the #5 round brush if you’re careful, but if you feel more comfortable getting into the small spaces with a #2 round, it’s okay to switch.


5. At this point you’ve finished your main blocks of color. All that remains is careful outlining and highlights. Load your #1 or #2 round brush with Diamond FX black, which is an excellent choice for line work. Go around your letters first, staying up on the tip of your brush so you have control.


When you get to the spot with the dragon tail curling through your letters, work carefully to remember what part of the design is in front and outline itrigh first. Finish up by filling in the interior sections of the letters and areas between the dragon and letters with solid black.

6. Load your #1 or #2 round brush with Diamond FX white for highlighting the letters and parts of the dragon. Highlighting should always be done thoughtfully. If you have trouble with this, default to the top and right hand side for highlighting letters and shapes, giving the illusion that your light is coming from the top and right.


And your dragon graffiti arm design is finished.

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.