Webinar: How to Face Paint Cartoon Characters With Beth Mackinney

We were live on Facebook and Zoom with the owner of, Blake Cabot, and professional face painter Beth Mackinney who showed us how to face paint cartoon characters. Thank you to all who tuned in to watch this webinar, and stay tuned for more webinars and tutorials!

For these cartoon designs, we're going to be using the new Kraze FX face paints, specifically the Kraze FX split cake palette and solid palette.

#1. Cartoon Snake Face Paint Design

Cartoon Snake Face Paint Design
I'm going to start with a snake, because it's really popular and I'm going to do a slightly changed snake. This is a little different from the one that I usually do. With cartoons, you want to be able to change things and make them different.

So the first thing I'm doing is loading my wide, flat brush, and this one is probably a 3/4", but you can use a 1 inch too. I'm going to start on the cheek, and normally when I do a snake, I make a large tear drop and then a small tear drop, and I go up from that. If I want to, I may come down on the other side of the face with a tail.

For this cartoon design though, I will start by making two smaller tear drops on the cheek. This will be the top of the mouth. On the bottom, I will make two smaller tear drops. Now I will go up to the forehead, and make the body of the snake. You can either leave it that way, or flip the brush, to make it wider if you've got room. This will give it the illusion of a 3D snake. Do the tail on the other side of the face if you so wish.

Now I will load a #4 Loew-Cornell brush with white to create the teeth of the snake. Above that, I will make two eyes, still using the white face paint. You can make your eyes a different shape, as every cartoon is different.

Now I'll be using a #3 Loew-Cornell brush and load it with some black face paint. Now I'm going to do my outlines with black face paint, and I will start with the teeth. Draw a line straight across for the teeth, and outline on the face.

As far as brush techniques, make sure you're keeping your brush perpendicular to your surface as much as you can. I'm not going to do the eyes until I'm all done - that's usually the finishing touch.

I will outline the tail as well, using black face paint. Use red face paint and a thin brush to create the tongue sticking out from between the teeth.

When you're thinking about expressions in cartoons, I have some resources that I use. I've taken some shots from the Internet of cartoon faces. Something else that I use, is a book by Christopher Heart, and there are two pages that have about 30 expressions on them.

Now, add the eyes and eyebrows and a few black dots on the cheeks to give your snake some character. At this point, we could do a couple of different things. We could grab a stencil and put a snake skin on there, you could also grab something like Mark Reid #4, or a Loew-Cornell #4 to create little dots on the snake's body.

The last thing I would do, is I would take a small #2 Loew-Cornell brush with a little bit of white on it, and do some highlights. Remember highlights is where the light is hitting, so they'll usually go on the top of the design. Run some along the cheeks, the body, the tail, and a litle bit on the tongue. So there's our startled snake!

One thing we're starting at, says Blake, is a private face paint Facebook group, which is going to be "how to learn" and "how to face paint", with videos and content from our various blog posts and stuff that Beth has done. If you'd like to join the group, here's a link:

#2. Cartoon Puppy Face Paint Design

Cartoon Puppy Face Paint Design

This will be a fun design, as I like animals! To do this, you can choose either one of these filbert brushes, a half inch, or a smaller one. As far as paint, I'm going to be using our split puppy cake from the Kraze FX split cake palette.

One thing you want to think about with cartoons, is placement. Before, where you had the snake, was great, because you could put it all over the face. This design, we're going to do it over the eye.

Placement for a cartoon face paint design, can be cheek art, or a mask, or centered in the middle of the face. It can be just above one eye, it can be over one eye, where you use the person's eye as the eye of the design. You can also do great nose designs, as well as mouth designs.

So I've loaded my brush with the puppy split cake and I'll start right above the eyebrow. Spin the brush over the eye and underneath, and fill in the center. This is the muzzle area of the dog. And above that, ill do some hair in the middle. You can do long ears, or shorter ears.

For the eyes, I will use white face paint, and again, I like to use more of a tear drop shape for that. Another thing you can think about with animals is you can change the eye size, like make one eye bigger and one smaller, which can add a really fun element to your design!

I'm going to use a Mark Reid #4 brush with red paint to create the tongue of the puppy. Now I'll go back to my small brush, and do the puppy's nose using black face paint. I like to make a big nose on my animals.

Next I'm going to load my small brush with black face paint, and I will do the outlines. Think about line quality. I notice artists that really practice a lot, they have beautiful line quality. Practicing is really important because it's also HOW you practice, and how MUCH you practice - the more time you put in, the better you're going to get. But when you're practicing, you need to use really good techniques, otherwise you're just going to be repeating the same thing over and over again.

Outline the puppy's ears, and remember to make your outlines thick to thin. You can also make one ear sitcking up and one ear down, to give your puppy more character. Outline your puppy's muzzle as well as the paws.

Next, we'll do the highlights. In order to increase the perceived value of the design, add stencils around it. Sometimes people think that stencils are cheating, but I don't believe that. I usually use them mostly for texture - they're a tool, just like anything else you would use.

Give your puppy dog some eyes, and finish off with some highlights. To make the design pop even more, add some stars and dots around the puppy design. You can put a tail on the other side if you want.

#3. Cartoon Monster Mask Face Paint Design

Cartoon Monster Face Paint Design

Even if you don't have a lot of forehead space to work with, this cartoon monster mask face paint design, will still work well. 

I'm going to load a flat brush, probably a 3/4" brush with a blue and green split cake from the Kraze FX palette. It doesn't really matter which color split cake you choose, that's totally up to you - any one of these split cakes would make for a good monster.

I'm going to make this monster just by making a zig-zag half circle right above the eyebrows, in the middle of the forehead. Then I'll continue over the eyebrows. If you don't want a furry monster, you could always make him smooth.

I'm going to switch over to a small filbert brush to do the hands of the monster. For the center, I'm just using the edge of my brush to fill it in with color. Normally on a child, I would use a sponge maybe and soften that a little bit. It's a little hard to do on a practice board because it's wet.

I'm going to do the ears. Another thing to think about, is color choices. If you're looking for something that's really safe, you can use analogous colors, and they're like next to each other on the color wheel. This would be like yellow, orange, and red, or green, blue, purple. This is a great way to make sure that the colors you choose, go well together.

You can also choose complimentary colors, which are across the color wheel. So for example, orange is across the wheel, so we're going to make some strange ears using orange.

If you combine colors that are complimentary, you can get a brown color. And this can happen if the color underneath hasn't dried properly.

Next thing we're going to use, is another #4 round brush. These are the brushes I use most of the time: a couple sizes of filberts, large brush, #4s and #2s.

I'm going to do tear drop eyes in the center of the forehead, and the claws on the side of the face, all using white face paint. Now we'll give him a nose, and I think I'll use yellow for the nose, which is just a tear drop.

All we have left to do is outline in black and add highlights and we're good to go! You don't even have to add the ears, it all depends on how much time you have. If I were at an event, I'd simplify it, because otherwise, I would never get them all done.

We're going to also give your monster some eyebrows (this is a friendly monster). You could make him grumpy, by giving him angry eyebrows. We're also going to give him a wobbly smile, and you could also add teeth. Add some spots on his nose as well, and outline the nose.

Finally, add some highlights to your monster to give him a more in-depth look. If I don't have time, or if I have a long line of kids, I'll usually skip the highlights.

#4. Cartoon Robot Face Paint Design

Cartoon Robot Face Paint Design

For robots, I have a couple different options. I have a robot mask, which goes above the forehead, and around the eyes, and I have a robot design that goes all the way around the eyes, like a robot with an open mouth (see above image).

For this cartoon face paint tutorial, we'll do an open mouth robot face paint design. I'm going to use the blue split cake from the Kraze FX palette.

I've loaded my brush with a blue split cake, and we're going to go right over the eyebrows. Then we'll angle the brush a little bit and make two triangles on each side. Go across with a semi-circle in between the two triangles. Flip your brush, and come down the sides of the face. Go across the bridge of the nose, to close the robot face.

I'm going to switch brushes to a 1/2 inch brush for the teeth. I'm just going to load from the center of the split cake, and we're going to do some teeth.

Load a brush from a yellow and orange split cake, and fill in the eye of the robot (the triangles). Keep the darker color on top. Then I'm going to load my brush from a red and black split cake and make the eyes.

I'm going to make his eyebrows kind of heavy, because all the other cartoons were happy, so this one is going to be not so happy! Robots have sharp angles, so be sure to remember that when face painting a robot.

Outline your robot using black face paint and a thin brush. Be sure to also outline the robot's teeth using black paint. I'm using a #2 brush, which is my normal outlining brush.

Give your robot some "ears", or Frankenstein parts, which are optional. Lastly, we're going to add highlights. The highlights are going to be on the top where there's light. Also add highlights to his eyes, which will make him look scary.


Q: How do I fix a brush?

A: I try not to put them in a position where they need to be fixed. But if something happens to them, what I've done, is dipped them in boiling water for a few seconds until they start to splay, and then I pull them out and use Masters, which is a brush cleaner. I load it up with that, shape it, and let it dry. And that has helped brushes come back from certain death. If I just can't repair them at all, I just toss them or save them for something else. 

Q: What is a good brush, oil or acrylic?

A: These are just Loew-Cornell brushes, so I like them really well for face painting. I wouldn't recommend you use expensive painting brushes, and the ones I use, are mostly made for face painting. 

Q: What's different with cartoons versus just normal face painting designs, from your perspective?

A: To me, the only difference is that they have eyes and faces. No matter what I'm doing, I just think in terms or shape, color, light vs dark. I don't find cartoons that bad, because it's just shapes!

Materials Used in the Webinar:

Kraze FX Split Cake Palette in Splash
Kraze FX Paint Palette in Fundamentals
#2 Loew-Cornell Brush
1/2 Inch Loew-Cornell Brush
#4 Loew-Cornell Brush
#4 Mark Reid Brush

Thank you to all who tuned in, and be sure to follow us on Facebook for more upcoming webinars, tutorials, and more! If you're new to face painting, be sure to join our new Facebook Learning Center!