Symmetry can be a challenge for many face painters. It isn’t easy to get it right and it’s often frustrating to look back at a photo of your design and see where a lack of symmetry has let it down.
To overcome this, I have outlined several practice tips to help you develop greater control over symmetry, and thus improve your face paint designs.
1. Practice basic elements in all directions
When practicing linework, remember to paint your lines in all four directions: left to right, right to left, from up down, from down up. Also, try to make your lines as long as possible. This will train your hand and will help you gain stability and confidence of painting in any direction equally beautiful.
It is essential to nail your techniques before moving on building up designs. That’s why we dedicate Four Modules in Part Two of the Course to four main face painting techniques: linework, double dip, one stroke and blending.
2. Find a comfortable position for painting
Feeling comfortable while painting is essential for achieving best results. Find a position that will allow you to look straight at the person, won’t hurt your back, neck or knees. We are discussing this point in details in Module #9 Part Two “Comfortable body postures” of the Course.
I prefer alternating my position while I face paint. My clients sit on a high chair, while I will paint standing if my client is a tall child or an adult, or I will paint sitted on a normal chair if my client is a small kid.
This alternation helps me relax and give the necessary rest to my back and my feet. I can paint like that for 7-8 hours at a time and still feel good.
Also remember, that comfortable orthopedic footwear is what may save your day on a busy gig.
3. Work alternately “left-right”
Painting an entire half of the face and then trying to make a symmetrical copy of it on the other side would only add to the challenge. Instead, work in smaller sections, painting one detail at a time, switching from one side to the other frequently.
If you are right handed you will feel more comfortable painting a detail on the right side of your client and then copying it on his left side. If you are left handed, do the opposite — paint a detail on the left side and copy it on the right side.
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4. Make a sketch and set yourself focal points and guidelines
If the design is very demanding in symmetry, or you don’t feel confident about getting it right, use a brown or white makeup pencil, or a brush loaded with skin tone paint to set focal points and guidelines on the face that will help you fit all the details on the right places. It is easier to paint a long line made out of smaller sections linked in between rather than painting an entire line at a time.
5. Step back and look at your design from distance
When you are working on a design up close, you can see it’s details, but you may be missing the “big picture”. Take a few steps back and note the symmetry and balance of your design. Does it need tweaking?
6. Take a picture
A photo is likely to show you mistakes that you may miss in real life. Take a picture when your design is still in progress, and again before you finish it, to see if there are any mistakes to be fixed. Perhaps this is something to do when practicing, rather than while working on the job.
The last thing a child wants to know is that you aren’t happy with your work.
For the child in your chair, you never fuss about your mistakes — always smile and act like it’s the best one you’ve ever done — even if it isn’t.
7. Distract attention from mistakes
Sometimes (often when you’re a beginner), your design may not be symmetrical and you can’t see a way to fix it, the solution is to detract attention from the mistake by adding an asymmetrical element in the center of the face. This trick usually works for butterflies, when an asymmetrical body with antennas can distract attention from messed up wings shape. Another tip is adding highlights, like clusters of dots and sparkles, lines, teardrops etc. The contrast between dark outline and highlights will help disguise your mistakes.
Read our Professional and Beginner’s guides for a complete look into everything you need to know about face painting!
— Ultimate Face Painting Tutorial for Beginners
— How to Become a Professional Face Painter and Get Paid