Monkey Business - An Animated Gorilla Mask by Annabel Hoogeveen

Do you dislike painting monkeys, just like me? Because no matter how hard you try, it never really looks nice on a kid?

Well, that's about to change today 😁!

In the series of 'moving masks', I created a super cool Gorilla mask. Kids can change the expression of the Gorilla face, by moving their eyebrows. Just give them a mirror and let them play ☺️!



Any color split cake you like with a dark and a lighter side. I used Global 'Melbourne' (alternative: Fusion 'Frozen Queen')

Artycake 'Teddy Bear' (or just a regular brown)

PartyXplosion White

PartyXplosion Black

American Painter flat brush 1/2#

Silly Farm Paint Pal Little Drop Filbert Brush

Loew-Cornell Round Brush 795 #3

Cameleon Blending Brush #1



Step 1: Sketching the main lines

Because the placement of the eyes and nostrils is important in animated designs, I started by sketching the placement of the main elements with a round brush #3 and some watery light blue paint. The main focal point (FP) in this design is the central forehead FP. This FP determines where to place the eyes and the nostrils.

Besides the actual contour lines, I sketched some extra lines just to find the proper size and shape. E.g. to make a nice, balanced design, I tried to keep all the elements of the top part of the design (hair, eyebrows, ears) within a rounded shape, following the shape of the forehead.


Step 2: Painting the base of the face

After sketching the main lines and contours, I loaded a 1/2# flat brush with the lightest colors of the blue split cake and painted the face. To make it look a little bit 3D and as realistic as possible, always keep the lightest color on the top and the darker color on the bottom. That means that when you paint the mask around the eyes, you should turn the brush around half way ;-).


Step 3: Adding the nose, the base of the hairs and the white elements

Using the same brush and color I then added two rounded shapes for the nostrils.

Now it is time to add some hairs. For the hairs I used the same brush and split cake, but this time I loaded the brush with only the darkest colors. With a loose, streaky motion I added some hair on the top of the gorilla's head, around his eyebrows, and on the top and sides of his mouth. Be sure to keep the ears 'free'. 

Next, I loaded a small filbert brush with some regular white paint and added the white in the eyes and all the teeth. By using a filbert (of chisel) brush, the teeth will automatically get the rounded shape I need.


Step 4: Adding the color of the eyes and the black contour lines

With the same filbert brush and some brow, I added a bit of color in the eyes next to the white.

Then I loaded a round brush #3 with regular black, and painted all the important black lines in the design. I also added some extra black lines in the hairs, where I thought it was still too light.


Step 5: Softening the lines (optional) and adding shadows and highlights

Before I added the highlights, I wanted to soften some of the contour lines a bit. I used a clean and dry blending brush which I moistened on a wet wipe to lightly blend in some of the black paint. You can use this method for making black lines less 'hard' and also for adding a bit of shading (e.g. on the teeth and around the nostrils).

For the final step, the highlights, I loaded a round brush #3 with regular white. The most important highlights in this design are the two little white dots in the eyes. So, don't forget them 😉. They are the ones that will give your monkey real expression.

All done! Give the kids a mirror and this Monkey is all ready to play 😁!!


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you try it, please tag me! I'd love to see your versions 😃!


Additional info: 

For these animated designs, the placement of the eyes (and in this case also the nostrils) is quite important. To help you determine where to put them I added some visual guidelines below. Hopefully they will help you to quickly master this design so you can make lots of kids very happy ☺️.



Want to have Annabel as your personal instructor? Take a Class at the International Face Painting School.  


Annabel Hoogeveen is the owner and founder of 'Blije-Snoetjes Kinderschmink', a Facepainting company and school in the Netherlands. She is painting for about 10 years and is passionate about teaching others how to facepaint, 'because the more face painters there are, the more kids we can make happy'.

Annabel likes colorful and easy 'on-the-job' designs. But, as a former vet, she also has a passion for painting realistic 3D animals.

She is an instructor at Olga Murasev's International Face Painting School (, has written several Facepainting blogs and recently won the 'Black Panther' competition here at

You can see more of her work on her Instagram and Facebook pages.