Top 10 Face Painting Designs

by Silly Heather


Face painting has evolved drastically over the past 20 years. Where balloons on the cheek or a simple heart was once the most requested, we have now moved into an era of full face tigers and Googling what you want to be painted as. Which makes it really difficult to know what designs will be the most  requested and how many designs should you be able to paint to be considered a professional.

As someone that has traveled the world teaching, painting and talking to other face painters I have narrowed it down to 10 designs that will help you simplify your face painting life.

Designs, themes, and popular characters (movies) will vary certain times of the year. Where bunnies are mostly popular around Easter and Spring, and Rudolph makes his presence around December, there are 10 designs that stay popular and requested year round. When I teach beginner classes I reassure my students that with these 10 designs you are ready to sell your services. If you can master these designs you can please any crowd, and they will be a gateway for you to elevate your skills and grow your art.

I remember taking a class once and I learned the most kick butt Godzilla design. I was so excited to paint the design. For the next three weeks I offered my new Godzilla design to every child and I had no takers. Being a really awesome painter isn’t about how many designs you can paint. More so its about being able to paint the top 10 designs and make your customers say WOW!

Regardless of what continent I am painting on, the requests are usually the same. So I put together a list of the Top 10 most requested designs to help you create a display board, practice with purpose, and master the designs that your clients ask for.

So here is my list in no particular order :)



Spiderman is NEVER ever going away. So get used to it and get good at painting it. I have a 6 year old son, we have never seen a Spiderman movie together and don’t own any Spiderman toys, yet the ONLY time he ever asked me to paint him, he asked to be painted like Spiderman. Girls, boys, adults everyone loves spiderman and its easily recognizable. If you have a display board Spiderman should be on it because it grabs attention and parents and kids recognize it without a description. Another bonus of Spiderman is that its a relatively easy design to create. I used to paint the entire face red and paint webs all over. Over the years I have tweaked my Spidey to a design that I love. The internet is also FULL of Spiderman Inspiration so if you need help with your webbed friend here’s some links and eye candy




Here’s Some Video Links on how to create awesome Spiderman Face Art

Olga’s Spiderman:

Ivillage Spidey:




When a child sits in my chair i first ask them how they are doing followed by “what would like to be today? A butterfly, a princess, a tiger, a kitty, a puppy, a rainbow,…” Usually by the third thing they know what they want. Mark Reid changed the way we paint Tigers because of his amazing spin on the tiger face. By adding glitter to the lips and free flowing lines a new breed of tigers emerged and they quickly became the #1 requested design. Tigers are not only popular with kids, they are a huge hit and heavily requested during Halloween. Tigers are majestic and like spiderman easily recognizable. The evolution of the Tiger face is amazing. Now you see colorful rainbow tigers, glitter tigers and realism tigers that will knock your socks off. So whatever you do make sure to practice this design because its  a hit!



Here’s some links on how to create fabulous Tigers:

Tiger Eyes:

Realistic Tiger by Olga

Tigers on FABAtv with Mark Reid:

Fast easy Tiger by Lisa Joy Young


The first design that I learned was a butterfly. I remember by teacher (mentor) telling if you learn to paint a butterfly then you will be a hit. She was right. Butterflies steal the show and are by far the top requested design. One of the best parts about painting butterflies is that the possibilities are endless. You can transform and mesh any design into a butterfly. Butterflies have 2 wings and usually cover the eyes creating the wings over the eyes. You can add stars, swirls, glitter, spots, and tear drops and create millions of versions of the beautiful insect. Ever since the introduction of Rainbow cakes the butterfly face art has reached new levels. If you are a butterfly lover like myself make sure to check out my Blog called THE BEST BUTTERFLY blog ever! There are hundreds of examples to give you lots of inspiration.



Here are some video links to learn the all the beautiful ways to create butterflies:

Mandy Moody Rainbow Butterfly –

Super fast Butterfly face painting:

Ashlea Henson Basic Butterfly

Shawna DeReal half Butterfly

Butterfly by Vanessa Mendoza



Disney has helped the face painting world more than they know. Every time they release a new princess movie they revive the princess requests. The best part about painting princesses is that there are no rules to the design. You can literally make anything into a princess. A butterfly princess, strawberry shortcake princess, fairy princess, .. birthday princess. The list goes on and on and its great for face painters because it gives us lots of flexibility. 2 years ago Karen Husted taught us about making our own bling clusters and that opened the gates for a whole new level of royal princess. Painters started creating their own jewel clusters and the result is blingtatsic! The basic guidelines of a princess are a crown, glitter and lipstick. There’s lots of preference and opinions surrounding using face paint on the lips. I have been doing it forever and have never had any problems. I use a little vaseline on top of the face paint on the lips to help the color stay a little longer. I love it and the girls go wild! Besides the butterfly design I think Princess is by far my most requested design ever!

pricness-2 princess-1

Here are some videos that help you create lots of different princess designs:

Princess Party with Melissa Munn:

Arty Cake Princess

Frozen princess by Ashlea Henson

Rapunzel princess by Sophie’s tips

Fairy princesses by Cameron Garrett:


Many artists struggle with designs to offer little guys. A lot of parents tend to shy away from face painting for boys because they think its mostly for girls. But Batman saves the day every time. I started my Batman journey with a black bat mask and now I find myself being super creative with the ultimate super hero. I started creating my mask in blues and using an Arty cake for a totally different effect. Batman is a friendly superhero and very recognizable so it helps when you offer it to your client. I created a Blog called the BEST Batman blog ever with loads of inspiration. Check it out!  

batman-2 batman

Here’s some link to help you create this fierce superhero design: 

Starry Night Batman mask

Pumped up Batman Mask by Onalee

Dark Knight Mask

Lisa Joy Young Bat Mask:


Yo ho a pirates life for me! For the longest time I forgot to offer a pirate face. But then kids started asking me for mustaches and beards and I wanted to make it more fun so I offered a pirate. Since they it has been a hit and one of my most requested designs. I find that boys like to know what the design will look like when you are finished and because they can visualize a batman mask, Spider man , pirate and tigers they are easier to sell them on. Where as girls love the element of surprise and the idea of being a magical princess even if they dont know what it will end up looking like.  I used to think that Pirates were more of a boy design but I was wrong. Girls love pirates too especially if they are going to match their brothers.

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Here’s some links to inspire your pirate life designs:

Girly Pirate

Jack Sparrow:

Classic Pirate:

Pretty Pirate


Rainbows are instant smile creators. One of my first videos was on how to create the perfect rainbow. It is my most watched video ever! Kids love the rainbow because to includes all the colors and also it reminds them to smile. I started combining rainbows in a lot of my designs and as a result I started getting requests for everything rainbow. Our number 1 selling rainbow and Arty cake are the True Rainbow cakes. 9 times out of 10 if a child sees the rainbow rainbow cake they ask for it. Rainbows are also fast crowd pleasers. When its time to shut the line I keep out my True rainbow arty cake and give everyone a rainbow design and they never feel cheated.



Here are some links to a rainbow of inspiration:

Rainbow Unicorn

Rainbow Princess :

The Perfect rainbow

The Queen of color Margi Kanter



Sometimes a child will sit down in your chair and feel nervous to get painted. Sometimes their parents force them to get painted and it makes our jobs much harder. One way to break the ice is to talk to a child about their pets at home or animals that they love. Its a great way to make a connection and give them a design idea. Cats are and extension of the tiger family and can also be one of the most creative designs we paint. When I ask a child if they want to be a pretty kitty or a cool cat I almost always get a big smile and a YES! making a connection with a child is super important, talking to them helps calm them down and forget that they are getting painted. Kitties are always crowd pleasers.

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Here are some links to festive felines:

Creative Cats Cameron Garrett:

Pretty Kitties with Tina Carroll:

All About Cats Marcela Bustamante

Olga’s Kitty


There is a reason that men love to give flowers and women love to receive them! Because they are beautiful and that’s why we love painting them on the face. Flowers are a great design to offer by the corner of the eyes, to offer to adults, and to embellish other designs with. Donna Dewberry made a name for herself by painting flowers on any and everything. We see them in nature and get happy to see flowers bloom at the beginning of spring. Flowers are always in style and requested in the world of face painting.



Here are some links to help you stop and smell the roses:

Marcela’s Enchanted garden

Shawna DeReal summer loving roses:

Donna dewberry One Stroke Roses:

Flower Mask by Lisa Joy Young:


Much like mentioning kitties, puppies are a HUGE hit! I remember begging my parents for a puppy and when they finally brought one home I was the happiest kids ever. For many kids, having a dog would be a dream come true. So when you mention painting a cute puppy its an instant hit! The cartoon paw Patrol is also super popular now and causing an flow of puppy inspired face panting designs.



Here are some puppy inspiration for you:

Playful puppy

Colorful pup by mandy:

Elsa Rhae 2 min pup


If you are just starting out or on the fence about designs to add to your display board I hope this blog helps you. There are hundreds of other designs that are popular and highly requested some very popular runners up are:


Unicorns! - Love this Unicorn by Lenore Koppelman
Unicorns! – Love this Unicorn by Lenore Koppelman



Fairies and masks top the other most requested lists.

Don’t stress your life If you cant paint everything on this list, use it as a guide to practice, learn, invent and create so that you can feel your best on the job and feel best preprared.


I hope this blog helps you along your journey. I look forward to an awesome 2017 and as always your feedback is welcomed!

Happy painting my friends

<3 Heather <3






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