Tutorial for a Flaming Sea Serpent


It’s not uncommon for face painters to have more girl designs than boy designs. When I’m looking for volunteers for face painting tutorials, I find the girls outnumber the boys by at least a 5 to 1, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to create a one-stroke sea serpent on this volunteer for this week’s tutorial.


Diamond FX Green Carpet small split cake
Paradise yellow face paint
Paradise orange face paint
Paradise red face paint
Paradise light blue face paint
Paradise teal face paint
Diamond FX white face paint
Diamond FX black face paint
1/2-inch flat brush
#5 round brush
#2 round brush


1. Begin by using your Diamond FX white (or Wolfe, Cameleon, or TAG white) to draw the basic structure of your design with the #2 round brush. Taking Brian Wolfe’s classes have helped me think through any design which contains an element of dragon/dinosaur/serpent, and this design is inspired by him. As you can see in the photo, I use the method Brian suggests with the circle and two lines to help me determine the basic shape and size of my sea serpent’s head before I begin.



2. Next, complete your sponge work. Keep in mind that complementary colors are excellent options for any design. (Complementary colors are the colors which are opposite each other on a color wheel, like blue and orange, or purple and yellow, or red and green.) For the background, load a combination of teal and light blue on your sponge. By mixing your colors, a palette of 12 to 14 colors will give you an almost infinite number of variations.


For the flame, cover the eye area well with yellow, and then added some orange to deepen the color around the edges.


3. Use your 1/2-inch flat brush and the Diamond FX Green Carpet (or TAG Snake or Global Borneo, which are also small green splits) and create the sea serpent head and body shape. For the fins, you can sweep the same 1/2-inch flat brush down toward the serpent’s body, stopping when you come to the edge of the back.


Load your #5 round brush with red and outline your flame area, blending the edge toward the center of the flame with either a sponge or a dry brush. The blending is an extra step, so you wouldn’t have to do it if you’re in a hurry. Also, if your model likes glitter, tangerine glitter is an awesome addition to any flame.


4. Choose a good black for details and for lining, such as Global Strong Black, Diamond FX black, or Wolfe Black, and load your #2 round brush. If you feel you need a little more control, you can also try the #1 round.


5. Use the #2 round brush for the teeth and the white highlighting of the image. As you can see. highlighting really adds a lot to the finished product. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip it, but if at all possible, put it in.


The mouth will look a little weak without some delicate black outlining, so taking the time to add the extra details. It will increase your overall visual impact.


I hope you enjoy using this design on your sea serpent fans in the coming months.

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.