Superhero Mask Tutorial for Tesser


I love to face paint superheroes, which is a good thing, because superhero face painting designs are almost always in high demand. Lately I’ve been thinking about how to turn RoxaRosa’s tutorial of a gorgeous one-eye Stargazer technique into a superhero mask, and this weekend I decided to try it out on one of my models. I would have chosen the name Nebula for this mask, but there’s already a Marvel character by that name who, sadly, has no mask at all. Tesser seemed like a good choice as well, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time, so I dubbed this mask Tesser, for an as yet unknown superhero.


Kryvaline split cake “Glowgaze”
Diamond FX black face paint
Diamond FX white face paint
Paradise black face paint
#4 Round brush
#2 Round brush
Filbert brush
Silver or iridescent glitter is optional


1. Begin by loading your sponge from your Kryvaline split cake “Glowgaze” on the flat side of your sponge. You’re going to dab the different colors from it in a random pattern around the face, but your mask will look best if you keep the light color on the end in between the eyes and on the inner corner of the eye. RoxaRosa did this with separate colors, and you can do it that way, too, if you prefer and feel like you have more control.

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Glowgaze, I discovered after ordering it, is a pearl/metallic split cake. I ordered it originally because I had never tried out Kryvaline as a brand before and wanted to see how I liked it. I also wanted to see if I could find one split cake with all the colors I wanted for this type of mask, and I was very happy with the results when I used it.

If you want to add glitter, now is the best time to do it, because after your paint dries, it won’t stick well. Your next opportunity to add glitter will be when you put on the starbursts if you want the glitter to be only on the stars.

2. At this point your model is going to look like she had a bad accident with a lot of bruising. It will get worse before it gets better, because the next thing to do is to add some black to deepen the shadows for the mask. Using a fresh sponge, pick up some of the Paradise black on it and dab a few random areas in your mask. In a real nebula, you would be able to see space through from behind. That’s what these areas represent. I don’t want too much black, but just a bit here and there.

2015-05-23 TesserMaskStep02

3. The next step is to create superhero eyebrows and outline the bottom of the mask with Diamond FX black and your #4 round brush. I was using a Majestic #4 for this one, because it holds a beautiful point when I need it to be tiny, but when I press down, I get a nice wide line. It’s my go-to brush for black line work of this type. Mark Reid brushes are also great for this.

2015-05-23 TesserMaskStep03

After my black line work was in place, I used Paradise black, which is a little softer and easy to blend than the Diamond FX black, and used a dry filbert brush to softly pull some black into the design from the bottom and also to darken the area just below the eyebrows. This did lend a sinister (or at least tough) feel to the mask, so if you want to keep it lighter, omit the black blending on the inner edge on the cheeks. Overall, I think it’s good for the serious superhero effect, so I put it in.

4. In her Stargazer eye design, RoxaRosa taps her brush, which she’s loaded with white, on her fingers so that it spreads tiny white droplets (stars) on her design. If you try this, make sure you tell the person in the chair to close his or her eyes first. If you’re not comfortable doing this and feel like you won’t have enough control, you can just use your #2 round brush and Diamond FX white to make tiny dots around the design in a random fashion.


Finally, add some white starbursts here and there, and use the white to make some white highlights on the lower black edge. Your design is finished!


Here’s a second example using the same technique to create a simple mask. In this case, I didn’t add the dark shading with the filbert, but just put in the black outline. I also omitted the heavy superhero eyebrows, so this has a much more feminine and light feel, and in looking back at it, I think some dramatic black lining around the eye could have made it even better.

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