Face Painting Tutorials: How to Paint an Easy Lion Face for Halloween

this is the finished look
this is the finished look

While Halloween is just around the corner, now is the time to begin thinking about what to do for a costume. My favorite thing to do for Halloween is paint my face. I feel that face painting is an easy, inexpensive way to create a look for Halloween that is unique, and looks good too.

I have been painting my face every Halloween since 2007, and yes, I do intend to this year as well. Being the poor college student that I am, I find that picking up a set of cheap face paints is much easier than purchasing a $30+ costume from Wal*Mart that every other girl at school is going to already have.

This year I have decided to share some of my previous Halloween face painting ideas so that you can bask in the endless compliments you will receive on your newly learned skills. I apologize ahead of time if the diagrams I have created seem overly simplified, but I thought it would be a good idea to break down the colors as simply as possible to make it easy to comprehend. 

Now that we have all that covered, let's begin :

What You Will Need

Here is a list of materials to buy in order to achieve this look:

  • a face painting set that includes black, white, brown, red/orange, and yellow. (some people choose to buy professional face paints, but you can find a children's set a lot easier and for a cheaper price) 
  • a black eyeliner pencil (I prefer a type such as Cover Girl perfect point plus. It glides on very smooth and dark, and has a screw tip so that you never have to sharpen it!)
  • a sponge to apply the paint (this is optional, some people like to use sponges to apply the paint, but I found it wasn't as easy to blend or get coverage as it was when I just used my fingers)
  • a can of aerosol hairspray (must be aerosol!)
  • a can of hair coloring spray (this is optional as well. My hair is naturally brown, so I did not use this, but if you aren't a natural brunette you might want to color your hair for the night so that it looks more like a lion's mane. This spray covers easily and quickly, and will wash out in the shower. I suggest spraying it outside, unless you want your furniture covered in a fine layer of brown mist. Yuck!)
A note about face paints: Some stores sell tubes of face paint rather than the palette of colors. Do not buy these tubes of paint. I found that they do not cover as well, and do not blend at all. (This is further discussed in step 2)

Step 1: Hair

It is important to get your hair out of the way when applying the paint, and since you will be spraying it into a "mane", it's probably a good idea to do that first and kill two birds with one stone. 

Take your can of aerosol hairspray, and really just go crazy with it. Tilt your head upside down and spray spray spray. It helps to shake your head around to create volume and lift your hair even more. Continue working with your hair until you have it to a point that you are happy with. It should be very big and feather out all over the place, just like a lion's mane.

If you are using the brown color spray: Once you are finished making your "mane" with your aerosol hair spray, step outdoors and have a friend help you color your hair using the coloring spray. Try to avoid getting any on your skin, and put a towel around your shoulders (or a garbage bag if you are really concerned). Your hair should be completely brown when you are done, don't worry about wasting it, use the entire can if you have to, it's what you bought it for isn't it?

Now that you have your mane set and ready to go, you can begin to apply the face paint.

Step 2: white

Begin with a clean, dry face. Using your white paint, begin to apply it to your chin and eye region liberally. I found that white was the hardest color to get coverage, so you will need to use a lot. You don't want to see any of your skin color through the white.

Paint your eyelids, following all the way up along your brow line. Apply paint to the underside of your eyes as well, and the inside corners of your eyes. Paint your chin beginning on both bottom corners of your nose and painting all the way to the bottom of your chin.

A note about white paint: Some kits come with the small palettes of colors, as well as a tube of white or black paint on the side. Do not use the paint from these tubes. It has a completely different consistency than the paints from the rest of the kit and will not mix well with them at all. It has no ability to blend either, and I found that it looked dry and cracked very quickly. It also made my face feel tight, and I found that it stung on my face, as I still get acne and it was not agreeing with my skin-type. 

Step 3: Brown

Begin filling in the rest of your face with brown. Paint all the way up into your hairline, your ears, and down to your neckline. In order to achieve the light reddish-brown on my face, I mixed brown with yellow, orange, and a touch of red as I went. I also mixed in white to lighten it and make the hue less intense. How you do this is really your preference, you might choose to go lighter than I did or maybe choose a richer color. The important thing is to keep your color consistent throughout your whole face.

I blended as I went onto my face, but if you do not feel comfortable doing this depending on your artistic level, a good idea would be to pre-mix your shade of brown onto a plastic plate (or any flat surface that will not absorb the paint). This way you will be guaranteed a consistent color without having to worry about re-mixing your colors every time.

When you reach the areas where the brown meets the white paint, take a clean finger and blend the edges. You definitely do not want a gap between the brown and the white. Be careful not to get brown paint into your clean white paint!

For the Nose: Take brown paint, not mixed with anything, and apply it to the "snout" of your nose. Follow the triangle-shaped underside of your nose, being sure to cover it completely, including your nostrils.

Step 4: Details

Using your black paint, color your lips black. This is optional, and you can argue that lion's lips are not black, but I liked the look of the fade from pink to black in my lips, and I thought it looked good in contrast to bring out my eyes and mouth. 

Using your black eyeliner pencil, draw a curved line that follows your upper lip and curls up slightly on the outside corners. This will create the look of a muzzle.

Again using your black eyeliner pencil, draw eyebrows, following the actual line of your eyebrows. Extend them up and past where your normal eyebrows end by about a half an inch. I made a feathered appearance on the outside corners of my eyebrows. Make sure the line is thick and even, and comes to a point on either corners. 

Finally finish off with heavy eyeliner on both your upper and lower lids. I also extended my upper lids to a point on my outer corners by about a quarter of an inch. I wanted my eyes to appear more exotic and almond-shaped like a cat. 

Two-face and I in our completed halloween looks.
Two-face and I in our completed halloween looks.

I hope that this tutorial was helpful in showing how  easy it is to create a professional look right at your very own home. Happy Halloween and happy painting!

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