First face painting venture… Mexican Sugar Skulls

At a charity event where I had offered a makeover with me as a raffle prize, I was both delighted and confused to see that my friend Tim had happily won my services. “What on earth does Tim need doing?” I asked myself. Tim is the drummer in a wicked band called Hot//Light//Fiesta and he had the idea that I could face paint him for their Halloween gig this October.

As much as I love the idea, I’d never actually attempted to face paint anyone before and so I took to Peaches and Cream to have a play with the paints. Enlisting the help of my faithful friend and model Helen, I began to embark upon the task of attempting his proposed look… that of a Mexican Sugar Skull.

On this particular day, it so happened that a client in the shop actually had a tattoo of a Mexican Sugar Skull (how mad!) and so she sent me this beautiful picture to use for inspiration. With this in mind and 2 hours before I had to be back at Uni, I picked up my brush and began.

I started with Helen’s eyes. These seemed to be the most easily recognisable within the theme and so they had to be perfect. I started by adding my black outline and then coloured my patterns in with a yellow paint. One of my bosses, Kate, had told me that it is best to apply black first because if you try to add black to a paler colour it just won’t sit as darkly or dramatically.


Next, I added a few simple coloured patterns to Helen’s face. I had taken her eye pattern too wide to decorate the bridge of her nose (learning curve for next time!) and so I made up for it by decorating her forehead and chin.


Once the colours of these patterns were on, I realised that I had enough time to quickly add a black outline to my patterns. This really made them stand out and definitely framed the whole look much more.


Unfortunately I ran out of time after doing this (who knew face painting could take so long? So much for beginner’s luck…) so I was unable to finish painting Helen’s face white, but I was still quite pleased with the level of detail we had managed to achieve.



  • Don’t keep to a time constraint – I would have had a more successful outcome if I had allowed myself some extra minutes to account for mistakes.
  • Apply white to the rest of the face once all detail had been added – this could have made my colours pop and would have definitely conveyed my skull theme in a much clearer manner.
  • Use a slimmer brush – finer details might have allowed me to add more of the smaller touches to the skull that make it so pretty and intricate.
Overall I was pleased with my first attempt but am excited for my next try so that I can put my findings into practise. As much as Helen loved modelling, I think she was really quite relieved to wipe everything off… what do you think?


P.S I’ve since had a second attempt at this look, photographed below. You can view it by clicking here.


  1. Amazing. I am wondering what kind of brushes you use — the same that an artist would use for painting, or something specifically designed for face painting? When the model closes her eyes, it stops the viewer twice, that vast expanse of blackness. I know you felt that you made mistakes, but it looked like an excellent initial foray to me!

    Thank you for subscribing to the Norwegian Artist. Art is all around us, isn’t it?

    • Hello Carolyn,
      Thank you for your comment. I tend to use a mixture of makeup artistry brushes from MAC cosmetics or face painting brushes from Snazaroo. I’m yet to try traditional artist’s paintbrushes but am eager to give it a go because a friend has suggested that, too! I will let you know how I get on and I look forward to seeing your posts.
      Rose x

  2. An interesting blogg. The content is varied, love the gems very eye-catching the face painting for first attempt was very good, though you are right it does take time.
    Thanks for visiting my blogg.

  3. What a delightful idea! If you’ve looked at my blog around the beginning of November, you know that I’m already a big fan of all things Dia de los Muertos. I think your first version is my favorite here. Did you notice how much the wiped-down photo of Helen looks like Munch’s ‘Scream’?? Too funny! And quite apropos, of course–all in the same vein, if you ask me!

    • Thanks for your feedback, Kathryn. It’s quite strange, I much preferred the second version but lots of my readers have had the same opinion as you and preferred the first! Just Googled Munch’s ‘Scream’ and was quite amused at the resemblance… might refrain from showing it to Helen though! xxx

  4. I wanted to share my Halloween costume with you, after finding you on my blog comments.

    I was a sugar skull. It took two hours to do. I won 100 in a costume contest.


  5. Nice job. I have never heard of these called Sugar Skulls. I wonder what the Sugar part means? Anyway, do you follow Project Runway? The Denver designer, Mondo, of Mexican heritage made Dia de los Muertos T-Shirt and bag designs in honor of his grandmother. They were awesome. Your daughter was a great sport through the painting. Cool.

    Thanks for subscribing to my blog The Fearless Cooking Club. Happy December!

  6. That is either freaky-scary-cool or freaky-cool-scary, I’m not sure which. But awesome either way! Thanks for following my blog today! 🙂

  7. Very funny and cute.

  8. Thanks for visiting/subscribing to my blog! This one’s amazing. The Mexican sugar skull look isn’t one of my favourites, but I’m duly impressed at the way you made it work!

  9. Thanks for subscribing to my blog Rosaleen. Glad you liked my (first!) You Tube vid: The Healing Power of Animals. Congratulations to you re: LSMedia’s award nomination. I checked it out. It’s a fantastic student mag. I liked the blue ‘vintage’ dress you wore. I had one just like it in the 60s. In fact, it probably IS the one I had in the 60s!

    Happy Christmas/winter celebrations.

    Ann Isik
    Poetic Mapping

  10. Hi,
    Thanks for subscribing to my blog. Like your creativity!

  11. Thanks for following ‘The Real Estate’. I’m now following you too! Your site looks great🙂 looking forward to reading your posts.


  12. I like the idea, and I like your result. It is so colorful and intricate. I hail from about 200 miles from the Mexican border and am enamored by Mexican art. Thanks for the follow and this experience has been great.

  13. Sensational. What a “first hit” to get introduced to your blog. Wow. You got yourself some high standards, you know, with your Tips For Next Time? I know that to a true artiste, the deity is in the details — but as an admirer, I found this just fabulous! Can’t wait to find out more about you!

    Having said that, I see you made another try, photo under the Flickr banner. Wow. I see what you mean.! Go for perfection.

  14. Woah, that looks really nice!

  15. Very cool, loved the finished skull, it looked fabulous🙂

  16. that was awesome!

  17. What an incredible design the Mexican sugar skull is! Is it used for All Hallows Day in Mexico? Thanks so much for introducing it to me and thankyou for the great face painting job. My four-year old daughter is definitely going to want to do one of those.

  18. I love this blog, the face paintng is so cute, thanks for following me as well. jaqsmakeuploft

  19. Nice! I love the last part (needed a laugh). You are talented and creative. Thank you for the follow! I will do likewise.

  20. that’s brilliant! must show my granddaughter… she’d love her face painted like that
    thanks for following my blog too : )

  21. What fun! The face as canvas! The body, hen you get brave enough to go big.
    I like the way you did a self-critique as you went along, realizing where you could do better next time.
    I think you did just great for the occasion. I’m sure your favorite band will be calling you back for more.

  22. Purple Ink says:

    Great ideas! With some changes I am going to use them to cheer for my team in the upcoming match! Thanks for the blog follow too🙂

  23. Fun, creative!

  24. Hello!
    Very Beautiful is what you do, i like it so much…

    But on skin, i prefer natural product, as henne: made with leaves of a tree known as very good for skin and hair;
    some wives do it until in some very intimate places of their body…
    here you can see some photos:

  25. Aaaaaaah!! I’ve always wanted to try this! I was thinking about doing it next year for Halloween! Thanks for the tips! I’ll keep it in mind!

  26. I thought you were very creative with the face painting for a 1st try – I am also fascinated by the scull art and would love to incorporate it into my art. Your model was very brave – too bad you didn’t photo her without the hair all pinned back. Did it work for you? How was the real one?

    • Hey! Thank you for your suggestion, next time I will make sure I consider how the hair will affect the finished photos – I had thought the same about having Helen’s hair all back. I’m yet to do the second attempt but am SO excited to, will try to do it in the next week or two! Have you created any skull art yet? If so send me a link x

      • To get the total look the lady would either need to grin a lot to show the teeth…or maybe you could paint the teeth across the face on top.

        ..not sure how that last would look if she really smiled, though…possibly very strange.

  27. what a gorgeous job! I am a big fan of the skull art and I wish more people would don the look for halloween!

  28. fabulous

  29. wow!!! i have never tried face painting before , it is definitely something Im gonna add it into my : TO-DO list for 2012!!! thank u for the lovely post and I love the way you write!

  30. What a creative idea for face paint, could work for Dia de los Muertos, Halloween or even a costume party for kids or adults. I think it turned out beautifully, I love it! I think it will look great on Tim for Halloween!

  31. LOVE the sugar skull!! I painted my face this halloween as a sugar skull also, turned out great! This is much better tho😉

  32. Pretty green eyes. 🙂

  33. Gorgeous! p.s. Thanks for subscribing to my blog. I am starting to feel like more people than my mother read! I will keep up with your posts too!

  34. I love the Blog, love the face paint. Thanks so much for the follow🙂

  35. Cool. Goes great with your green eyes!

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