Face Painting a Butterfly
Credit: Makareta Ngatipa

Anyone can learn how to make money from face painting. Its loads of fun and you can start with just a handful of supplies, well maybe a container. From a list of art supplies, extra materials, which paints to buy, practising the most common designs to booking your next event.  This article will teach you how to start your own face painting business from scratch and make a tidy profit doing it.

Face painting supplies

Finding art supplies for face painting is easy, most bargain saving stores or art supply stores can hold a range of painting products all in the one store. They are not necessarily called face painting supplies, just various types of brushes, trays and paints for different aspects of art creation.

What you can look for is 5-8 brush set packs with white tips, preferably, or smooth synthetic nibs with 15- 20cm long handles. Select a variety of shaped nibs and few of each. They are inexpensive and will last a couple of shows at a time. It doesn’t matter if you’re unsure of how to use them right now, because you will eventually experiment and find a frequently used favourite.

Clean your brushes regularly after a few faces, I put a splash of kid friendly disinfectant in my clean water whenever I have time or I throw them out when they lose stiffness, the synthetic hair starts falling out or the brush handle splinters. Having a separate container for lots of spare brushes comes in very handy.

You should be able to fit all the items below in a 54cm x 41cm x 30.5cm container:

-          30 – 50 Brushes in a small lunch box container

-          An oval or round plastic paint tray with several cravats for paint puddle mixing (for liquid paint)

-          A paint brush stand

-          Sponge pieces or a large car wash sponge with scissors to cut into different shapes

-          A good sized flowery coffee mug (for water dipping and frequent brush cleaning)

-          2 x face cloths and 1x hand towel

-          Plenty of glitter in small containers

-          2 mirrors the size of an A4 book

-          1 x bucket

-          2 -5  litre bottles of water

-          Several different colours of water paint (see best products below)


You may already have these extras, or you can purchase these things gradually on your face painting journey. The extra chairs are for parents and children waiting in line under the gazebo.

-          4-6 folding chair (in colours if you can)

-          3 metre x 3 metre gazebo

-          Fold up table approx 1 metre long (camping table is good)

Paint Products  

There are different types of water paint you can use especially for face painting. You can choose from a; Cream water paint, liquid water paint and a cake type water paint. Most paints will state specifically for use of face painting purposes while other brands will advertise water paint.  Read the labels by all means.

Beginners should start with a product called Snazaroo Face Paint. I can personally recommend it for newbies, which can be purchased directly from Amazon, it’s a smooth cream paint, ready to apply with a sponge or brush and it dries very quickly allowing you to work over top with another colour within seconds. Most importantly it is non-toxic, can be used on sensitive skin and is specifically designed for children’s face painting.

Snazaroo Face Paint Mini Starter Kit
Amazon Price: $73.99 $40.05 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 10, 2014)

The cake type water paint is a compact powder product that needs a small amount of water to create a smooth paste of rich colour. This takes practice because if the paste is watery your colour will run and take too long dry and on the other hand, if the paste is too thick it will run short and dry quickly leaving small cracks or lumps in your art work.

Liquid paint is my personal favourite; you can make many diverse colours with it in your tray. Besides your basic mix of primary colours, adding a small drop of white allows you to work with a shade lighter. This technique presents a 3D effect when working with the butterfly, flowery designs for crowns, bushes and dragons. 

Basic designs

Practice on your own kids first; they love it and don’t mind you making a few mistakes. They may even create curiosity within the neighbourhood, so expect a few small visitors.

You will find a massive amount of pictures to practice on Google search, however be careful not to copy someone else’s designs without permission. To be safe, use face painting product web-sites which allow you to practice the basic designs for free and even teach you how to do it.

You can also purchase a couple of face paint beginner’s books from Amazon.  I frequently use the 3 minute book for quick and small designs on babies and adults.  I actually purchased it from a book shop, but you can buy it on Amazon for around the same price including postage.

How To Face Paint Book, 3 Minute Cheek Art
Amazon Price: $14.22 Buy Now
(price as of Jun 10, 2014)

Try to memorise at least 10 popular basic designs such as:

Girls - The Butterfly (an extensive variety of patterns here) Flower design, Princess and the Fairy.

Boys - Batman, Snake, Tiger, Spiderman, A rocky horror and the Green gremlin with white horns.

Teens – Princess crowns and exotic fairy designs.

Adults and babies – any design in the 3 minute book.

When you get really confident, start painting the latest cartoon characters like: Frozen, Bart Simpson, Minions and put a little of your own zest into it with stars and glitter (if time permits)

Booking your next event

It’s easy to start promoting your face painting business. I started with all the children’s birthday parties within my circle of friends and family. In some cases for free just to practice. When I became confident enough I booked into shows or rang around the local councils for community events. Before I knew it people were ringing me to book in for their Childs party or invited to culture events.

Start a Facebook page and post your events and photos up to show everyone your work. Always get permission from the parents before you advertise their children on popular media web-sites. Take photos of your work, laminate them when you travel and build up a library of colourful face painted cards for the children to pick from.

Arrive early to large events so you have time to pass cards out and invite other stall owners to bring their children to get their face painted.  Charge a fair price and don’t be shy, 2 - 5 dollars a face is more than sufficient for beginners starting out. Sometimes you can negotiate an all day price so you can avoid all the money exchanging and spend more time face painting.

Being a face painter really is a choice to commencing a long term business career; therefore, it is only fair that you should always dress up for every occasion. Play the part well and camouflage your own face in patterns and designs. It’s a great opportunity to wear some crazy shoes, brightly coloured shirt or costume.  Whatever you wear, dress to attract attention and uniform it to your face painting business. The children love this and will always remember you for the next event.


Good Luck and Happy Face Painting!

That's me
Credit: Makareta Ngatipa