Simple Calligraphy For Arm Designs


Most face painters have at least dabbled in other types of art, and if you’ve experimented with calligraphy, you may have realized there are some great applications for it in face and body art as well. Today we’ll do a simple one-letter monogram which is popular with girls, teens, and women, and is inspired by face painter Zoe Howe’s lovely work. If you try this at a private party for children, you may end up with more moms in your line than kids.


Diamond FX Blurred Lines small split cake
Diamond FX Monsoon small split cake
3/4-inch flat brush
1/2-inch flat brush
#2 round brush
#6 round brush
Diamond FX white face paint
Diamond FX black face paint
Paradise wild orchid face paint
Cosmetic glitter


1. Load your 3/4-inch (or 1-inch) flat brush from your Diamond FX blurred lines small split cake or other split cake of your choice. You aren’t limited to rainbows, so consider either the favorite color or the clothing color of the person in your chair when choosing which one to use. Hold your brush so that it has a slight slant as you make a slight s-curve down for the back of the L and the finish with a stroke for the bottom of the letter. Add glitter while the paint is damp.


2. Load your #6 round brush in Diamond FX white, wipe the very tip off a little on a paper towel, and dip the tip in Paradise wild orchid. Make three press flowers here and there on the monogram. I suggest either using three or five, because using an odd number is more appealing to the eye, but you don’t want to go overboard on it.


3. Load your 1/2-inch flat brush from the Monsoon split cake to make a butterfly somewhere on your design for visual interest.


4. Use the small round brush and Diamond FX black (or Wolfe black or Global strong black) to outline your butterfly, keeping at a 90º angle to the arm surface and staying up on the tip of the brush for maximum control.


5. Adding a white outline to your letter with the small brush will help it stand out. My model was so tan that the letter would have been lost on her without this, since the tone level for the blurred lines was similar to her skin’s tone.


6. Add white dots and starburst to give the design maximum visual impact. If you compare the photo without these added extras and this one, you’ll see that the whole design takes on an added life with them, so they’re important in the final product.


I chose the letter L because I was working on my niece Lizzie, but the same principle will work with any letter. If you aren’t sure how to make calligraphic lettering, check out a book at the library with some simple styles and practice holding your brush at a slant as you work. Trying it out on a flat surface will be easiest before trying it on an arm, which is curved.

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.