Skip to main content

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

The finished result

The finished result


Whether Halloween is just around the corner or you have a special costume event or party to go to, now is a good time to begin thinking about what to do for a costume. My favorite thing to do for Halloween is paint my face. I think that face painting is a unique way to ensure that no one will have the exact same costume, and it gives me a good excuse to explore my creative side. As a poor college student, I found myself steering away from the skimpy, overpriced costumes most commonly worn by girls these days, and more towards what I could come up with that was effective and affordable.

This tiger face paint was my first attempt at face painting in 2007. Below I have provided simple step-by-step instructions on how to achieve this look. Enjoy and happy painting!

What You Will Need

  • A face paint kit that includes at least black, white, orange, yellow, and red. (some people choose to buy professional face paint, but you can find children's kits in many places for much less money)
  • Black eyeliner (I personally would suggest a type such as Cover Girl Perfect Point Plus. It glides on smoothly and dark with little effort, and unlike other eyeliner pencils you don't have to sharpen it!)
  • A make up sponge to apply the paint (optional- Some people like to use a sponge, I found that it wiped off more than it put on so I used my fingers instead)

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. In fact, they actually become very dry and cracked, which made my face feel very tight. The paint almost stung to a point as well, as I do still get acne and the paint did not agree with my skin-type at all.


Step 1: white

Begin with a clean dry face, and using your finger or a sponge, add liberal amounts of white to your chin, above your lip, and above your eyes. Follow the arch of your eyebrows as well as a small amount underneath and in the inner corners of your eyes. Extend the white paint up above your eyebrows to a point by your temples to elongate your upper brow.

Try to cover up your eyebrows as much as possible, you don't want them to be visible on the completed face.

Don't be afraid to use a lot of makeup, especially when using white. I found that white was the hardest color to get coverage, and it took many layers to get a good even cover.


Step 2: Yellow

Add yellow to the inside of your face. You want to keep the yellow so that it doesn't extend much further than the outside corners of your eyes and about an inch above your eyebrows. 


Step 3: Orange

Using orange, begin filling in the rest of the space on the outside of your face. When you get to the yellow area, with a clean finger blend the yellow outwards to give a seamless appearance. This gives the illusion that the color is naturally fading, creating depth and making the overall result a polished, professional look.

This diagram shows harsh color edges, but if you refer to the finished picture you will see that all of the warm shades are blended seamlessly. 


Step 4: Red

Using very little red, blend the paint on the outermost section of your face. You want it to mix with the orange near the edges so that it looks like a deeper shade of red-orange, rather than pure red. This also adds depth and increases the variation of hues. 


Step 5: Stripes

Using your eyeliner, begin to draw out the tiger stripes. They are basically curved triangles that angle towards the inside of your face to a point. You can follow my example or choose where you want to put them.

If you are having difficulties steadying your hand, try resting your elbow on a table or desk and then drawing the lines.

The best advice I can give is to not go crazy with drawing these stripes. I have seen a lot of tiger face paint that was looking great until they ruined it by loading their faces with stripe after stripe. You want enough that people understand what you are going for, but not so much that it is distracting. Keep it simple and concentrate on making them look sharp and clean.

Scroll to Continue

Step 6: Filling in the stripes and detailing

This could be considered the most difficult step in this tutorial. Begin by filling in your stripes you drew out with your black paint. When you get near the edges or points, feel free to color them in using your eyeliner, rather than try to fill in a small detailed area with your finger or a sponge. (Feel free to fill in the entire stripe with your eyeliner if you would like!)

Next are the details. Using your eyeliner pencil, begin to do the following:

Draw a line following the arch of your eyebrow as well as your white paint guide you have created in step 1. When you get about 2/3 of the way outward, begin drawing upward to create a point. I added another curved line beginning at the top of the point and gently curving inward. Once you have your basic line, thicken the center so that it fades into a point on both ends. 

  • I gently shaded a small amount of black in from the point of my drawn eyebrow, but that can be optional and it won't look any worse without it. 

Once you have finished the eyebrow, draw a small circle near the inside corner of each eye.

Draw a semicircle on the top tip of your nose. It should extend just slightly wider than the bridge of your nose. You can decide how far underneath your nose you want it to reach, but I only had it reach about a quarter of an inch under the tip of my nose. Fill it in with black paint or your eyeliner. 

Beginning at the center of your  nose, draw a skinny triangle vertically that ends at the points in your upper lip. Follow your upper lip drawing a line that is about as half as thick as your eyebrow. If you would like, you can draw a curve in a c-shape on each side to give the appearance of a snout. 

  • draw a few dots between your upper lip and the bottom of your nose. Remember, don't go crazy! less is more!

On the bridge of your nose, draw 2 to 3 small horizontal lines at about half-way. These lines should be about 1/4" apart and 1/2" wide. 

Finish the look by applying the eyeliner around your eyes, make sure it is nice and dark.


Voila! You're done! You now have a unique halloween look that you created yourself, and for a small price none-the-less. 

Face painting books worth checking out


Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 13, 2014:

Great! Thank you for the wonderful feedback!

Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on October 13, 2014:

This looks like so much fun. Will be sending this tutorial to my grandkids who just this weekend bought face paints.

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 10, 2012:

@Lynn your welcome :o) Enjoy your Halloween! I hope you convince your husband to go along with the face paint, haha.

Lynn on October 10, 2012:

Hi, that's too bad about not doing it this year, however at least you'll be painting something. We'll be going out on the Saturday before Halloween to celebrate. I'm trying to convince my husband to wear face paint for the trick-or-treaters on Halloween, however he's not receptive to that, due to the amount of his coworkers in the neighborhood.

Thanks for the input again.

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 09, 2012:

@Lynn Also, I haven't thought a lot about what I want to do this year. It's a bummer that Halloween's in the middle of the week, and we're actually in the middle of closing on our first home so I'm not even sure if I'll be doing anything for Halloween, I might be painting walls instead of my face, haha

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on October 09, 2012:


Are you using paint that comes in the little trays with the other colors? I only ask because sometimes they sell a tube of white paint but it ends up covering terribly and becoming very dry and's just awful so if you are using that kind you should avoid it and stick to the paints that just come in the little white trays.

When I apply paint, I try to apply a thin even coat, and keep adding layer after layer until I get my desired opaqueness. I do remember white being particularly difficult to cover evenly. I would just say not to be afraid to use a lot if that's what it takes to make it even. When all is said and done you will be like "who this is a lot of greasy paint" and that's okay...this is normal haha. Not a comfortable look, but it's the way it looks that matters ;) I'm actually planning to invest in professional face paint at some point because I enjoy doing this so much.

I'm sorry if I wasn't a lot of help, all I can really say is to not add too much at first, gradually build, and don't be afraid to go heavy if need-be. The paint will never really dry, so if you're getting a paint that's drying on your face, it's probably the wrong kind. Look for one that's more oil-based and it will be much easier to blend and cover.

Hope I helped! Glad you're having fun with it though!

Lynn on October 09, 2012:

Hello again, I have a question about applying the base. My husband and I tried a practice session recently with ghost makeup and the base was streaky and blotchy, even with more paint. Do you do any techniques to smooth it out? We still had a lot of fun. Thanks again.

(Any thought for your costume this year?)

Sid Kemp from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach) on May 06, 2012:

Fun! I'm a big fan of tigers. I have very sensitive skin, so I'm a little nervous about trying it. But I hope I do. The results would come out quite different - I'm a 50-year-old guy!

(By the way, a whole head shot with the face paint, or a full costume shot would be great to see.

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 30, 2012:

Oh good! Yes definitely do a hub on it that'd be awesome, and no I wouldn't mind at all I'd be happy to send a link your way :D I'm glad it all worked out for you!

Sanjida Alam from Bangladesh on April 29, 2012:

I experimented a little something :-D Great tip that was :-D I m thinking of making a hub about I m actually feeling very happy tht I cud do it :-D Wud u mind if I give u the link?

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 29, 2012:

Oh no! I would suggest googling alternatives to face paint, I did a little browsing and found articles on homemade face paints but Im not sure of how well they will work. I don't know how easy it would be to get off, but I wonder if inexpensive eyeshadow would create a similar effect? I used brown eyeshadows on my face for my old lady makeup tutorial and it didn't seem to do any harm, Ive thought of using it myself before honestly because the facepaint I use is actually pretty uncomfortable haha, so I'm even considering switching to professional face paints to hoepfully avoid that. I wish I could help more :/

Sanjida Alam from Bangladesh on April 29, 2012:

Shipping to my country is not very available, and would be very expensive too :-(

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 29, 2012:

Are you able to order face paint online? That would be the best option at first, and thanks!

Sanjida Alam from Bangladesh on April 29, 2012:

Nice one :-) I wanted to know something. I am from Bangladesh, it's a southeast Asian country. I've never seen face paint in any store here. Can u suggest any alternative that I could use?

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 18, 2012:

No problem, thanks again!

Lynn on April 18, 2012:

Thanks for the quick reply and advice. You didn't ramble at all and were very informative. ;)

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on April 18, 2012:

Hi Lynn, thank you! I haven't had any training in face painting specifically, but i went to school for animation and have been doing art my entire life so I understand the basics of blending and shading enough to just pick it up per say. One thing I want to do different next is that now that I've dabbled in it I'd like to buy professional grade face makeup. It really isn't much mire expensive but i imagine its more comfortable tonwear and more forgiving with blending. You asked how long it takes to dry, and to be honest I always just use the store bought paint for $3 at a drugstore, just a simple kit that has the colors I need, I probably used a clown kit for this face and a witch paint for my zombie face. So the paint I used never dries, and I would stay away from the paints that say they dry, because often they don't cover well and crack when dry. Unfortunately unless u want to spend a little more, the drugstore paints arent something u can touch when ur done, which I hate because I'm very fidgety!

Each look takes 1 to 2 hrs, my fastest was the old lady look which was also the easiest and a blast to do! That's the only face paint that didn't require paint, it was all just cheap makeup from a dollar store. Sorry for the rambling by the way, face painting excites me :D

Lynn on April 18, 2012:

These tutorials are very good and you're talented. Did you have any training?

How long did it take you to paint your face?

Did the paint dry quickly?

We're considering going this route for our next costume party.

Jessie Miller (author) from Buffalo, NY on January 23, 2012:

Thank you! It was so fun to do too : )

ANON on January 23, 2012:

This looks really good, im gonna use it for when i go to a fancy dress party, thanks :)

Related Articles