5 Tips for Crisp Lines in Face Painting

Olga Murasev— 26 September 2017 —

When it comes to mastering skills as a face painter, linework should be number 1 on your list. To create crisp and accurate lines quickly and easily can take a lot of practice. But nothing is impossible, especially if you know exactly what to do and how to do it. In this post, I will share five useful tips about how to practice your linework effectively and get pro level results.

1. Invest in pro round brushes

As with all things, there can be a lot of variation in the artist’s tools. Yet, as most beginners are on a tight budget, they may find themselves overlooking quality when it comes to investing in tools and accessories.

In my experience, the type of brush can make a big difference to the end result. Nice work is easier to produce with a set of professional high-quality brushes, rather than cheap craft brushes.

If you take care of your high-quality brushes properly (use it, wash it, store and sanitize it the right way), they will last many years. Perhaps you have found a set of craft brushes that seem to work well in the beginning? In my own experience, cheaper brushes are more likely to deteriorate very fast and will require replacement. So there go your savings.

Investing in high-quality brushes may cost a little fortune, but the good news is that they will last you forever if you take care of them properly. That’s why I’m covering this topic in an entire Module in Part One of the Course, called “Hygiene and taking care of materials. How to fix split brushes tips and damaged paints.

Round brushes are mainly used for linework (teardrops, swirls, curls, tiger lines, reversed teardrops, dots, outline) and also for building up shapes.

I love making my linework with Loew Cornell 795 series (yellow wooden handles) and 7000C series (old batch — black plastic handles, new batch — black wooden handles).

Loew Cornell 795 - brushes for face painting

I have also heard great reviews about a new brand of round brushes, very similar to Loew Cornell 795 series, called Aliyah Round White Taklon Series 1700.

Aliyah Round White Taklon Series 1700 - brushes for face painting

Another option to consider is the new Paint Pal brushes, produced by Silly Farm. Everything that is produced under the thoughtful supervision of Heather Green is of the top quality. I haven’t had a chance to try these brushes myself yet, but I heard very good reviews about them and I believe that Heather did her best to present the best quality brushes for Silly Farm customers.

Paint Pal, Silly Farm - brushes for face painting

Knowing exactly what tools that work best will save you lots of time, money and stress. That’s why I dedicate the entire Part One of my online Course to setting a solid fundamental foundation of knowledge.

2. Hold your brush perpendicularly to the surface

No matter what kind of linework you do, always hold your brush perpendicular to the skin.

Linework in face painting - how to hold your brush

3. Get the right paint consistency

Getting the right paint consistency will help you obtain vibrant colors and sharp lines. Creamy and inky paint consistencies are what you want for linework.

Use creamy consistency for your white lines and inky (slightly more watery than creamy) consistency for your black and colored lines.

Also, make sure you’re activating your paint correctly!

Check out my “How to activate and use face paints correctly” blog post for more info about how to work with your paints properly for best results.

4. Thick to thin and thin to thick

The most pleasing effect in face painting is achieved when your lines have sharp ends (or at least one end) and thick bodies. Vary the pressure on your brush to obtain lines of different thickness. This skill is very important for a face painter, but it may take months and even years to achieve perfection. Don’t give up if your hand doesn’t listen to you.

A little progress each day adds up to big results.

Notice the thick parts of the lines and the thin and sharp tips in these designs. Their alternation creates balance. Both of these designs are being studied at the International Face Painting School.

Perfect bytterfly and linework in face painting - International Face Painting School

5. Practice all essential lines and line-clusters

Make sure to practice, as frequently as possible each type of line. There are six main lines in face painting:

  • regular teardrop
  • reversed teardrop
  • thin-thick-thin line
  • swirl
  • double swirl
  • tiger line

At the International Face Painting School, we are practicing the linework thoroughly in Module 2 “Round brush work technique. Main types of linework in face and body painting.

Check out this practice by the student Elodie Bisegna Ternois. Her hard work paid off and her lines are crisp and neat now!

Elodie Bisegna Ternois linework at the International Face Painting School

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I hope these tips will help you improve your linework. Let me know in the comments below what else you struggle with? 👇👇👇

 — Olga Murasev

  • Yes, indeed! The paint brand can be an issue too. If it doesn’t work with TAG, try a Wolfe, Cameleon, Diamond FX, Kryvaline of FPA white. 😉 Those are the best waxy ones!

  • Amber Wilson

    Thank you 🙂
    I have the creaminess down (finally after years lol) and after reading your reply, I think my biggest issue is I use mostly tag for my backgrounds. I have a Wolfe FX rainbow that I love so I will see how that goes as a background with the white over it and of course, practice, practice, practice 😀

  • There are a couple of things to consider:
    1 – make sure that your background colour is completely dry
    2 – wax based regular paints on the background usually do not reactivate if the linework is applied on top, but glycerin based and metallic paints are softer and can be pulled with the lines that you apply on top
    3 – apply thin layers of paint on the background
    4 – make sure that your white is very creamy and doesn’t have too much water in it
    5 – some colours on the background will still “absorb” a part of the brightness from your white lines, for instance blue backgrounds, so in this case you may need to go over your lines once again, but make sure that the first layers are dry before you go on top

  • Amber Wilson

    How do you get nice opaque lines over the colours? I use Wolfe and Chameleon for my whites but the wet brush always seems to activate the colour again and my white lines never stay clean.

  • Your tiger is very creative, Mila!

  • Hmm, I am not sure, but I believe that Tiffany meant the face paints, not the brushes. At least that’s what I understood. 🙂

  • You may try using gouache dissolved with water and brought to a similar consistency as the creamy of inky one in face painting, but I’d suggest using a practice board or paper for that, not the skin. 😉

  • Mila Ljudmila Zulfiyeva


    They are not expensive … LC pencels are one of Most Have in Facepaintings world – Just buy them and You well se how big different you can get with Correct Tolls in faceart … I promice <3

  • Tiffany Frye

    I hate to use such an expensive product for practicing. Will we get the same effect if we practice with acrylics or something instead?

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