Tools of the trade.

Posted by Russ Kennedy on


Masking tape-check, paint rollers-check, drop cloth-check……fortunately these are not things we need to include in our face paint kits. Just like a professional commercial painter, we too should have the proper tools which aide in delivering a professional look. Your kit can be as simple or elaborate as you wish, the important thing is that it’s suited for your style and needs, which should always start with quality supplies. Professional grade face paints will deliver the best results in colors and pigments for your work; however using a cheap brush can stifle your attempts at a great design, leaving your client with a less than desirable opinion of you as an artist.

Where to begin?

Steer away from cheap bargain brushes, they often are made from stiff nylon bristles; not only are they difficult to paint with but actually can be uncomfortable on your subjects skin. Many of the pro-face paint palettes come with a brush that is decent quality and  good for many basic brush stokes. Quality Brushes are soft to the touch, allow for greater control of your brushstrokes, give you better delivery of the paint to the skin and will last a long time if cared for properly. Not unlike an artist painting a beautiful portrait, the face painter can benefit from a variety of brush styles. A large flat or wide chisel brush will help cover a large area quickly, while a smaller fine tip round brush will aide in the detailing of your work. Specialty brushes like the fan brush can help you create fun effects to your artwork like making the wings for a butterfly look soft and fragile. With the resources available one can choose to have as few or as many brushes on hand while on the job.

Some of the pro-brushes and applicators available.

Some of the pro-brushes and applicators available.



A dear friend of mine from Russia astounds me with some the most beautiful face paint designs I have seen; not only are her designs brilliant but she is fast. All of this she accomplishes with one of the most basic kits I have very seen. One secret of hers is having a brush dedicated for each color, this speeds up her process by not having to rinse the brush of one color before starting on the next color, also preventing the paints from getting muddy making her designs very clean and vibrant. Irina makes use of sponges for the large areas and round brushes for much of her detail work, contour brushes are used for certain designs.

Face paint by Irina

Face paint by Irina

Above you can see an example of Irina’s work; a colorful background with a playful animal print.

Sponges and applicators:

Yet another addition to the already huge selection of face paint brushes are the face paint sponges. Sponges can be a great advantage in covering the entire face in a base color opposed to using one of your wide brushes, often giving a smoother look to the finish. Cutting your sponge in half can help you create different painting techniques as well as increasing the number of sponges on hand. A perfect time to use your half sponge is with a split cake such as the rainbow cake, take a look at the sample pictures.

rainbow cake and spongepaint on spongewith a twist


By taking your damp half sponge, rub it back and forth on the rainbow cake to collect the paint, now as you pull the sponge across your subjects skin you create a rainbow in one easy step, a twist of the sponge will create a nice effect too. Make up wedges also can be used much like a sponge but are not as porous. Wedges deliver about the same coverage as a sponge yet they are more rigid which can be used for shading and creating lines similar to a brush.

Foam tip applicators also come in very handy for applying glitter, eye shadow or helping with your animal prints. Blending your paints also becomes an easier task with foam tip applicators. Sponges and foam applicators can also make a nice perfect circle perhaps when painting a baseball, sun or other symmetrical shapes.

Cleaning your brushes and sponges will increase the longevity and keep your paint designs from having unwanted colors from the previous job. Simply wash them in warm water and gentle soap like baby shampoo and rinse them thoroughly or you may prefer a professional grade brush cleaner. Taking care of your tools only makes sense, we don’t want to spend money on quality brushes and have them looking like a cheap kids water color brush after one use.

As always we hope these tips are helpful and look forward to hearing from you.

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →