FIRST STEPS: Take things easy at first with simple to do designs. Cheek art is a perfect starting point with basic little patterns featuring holly, berries, snowflakes, stars, Christmas crackers, Christmas trees with a little bauble at the end of the branches, and even little faces. Remember that the theme is Christmas so red, white, green, silver and gold are essential colours. Painting animal markings on the cheeks, eyes and forehead can also look very effective, and because animal markings like tigers aren't straight you will get away with so much whilst perfecting your creation.
TIGER MARKINGS: Use a round brush with a pointed end and black paint. Tiger stripes are best done in groups of three. Always think big to small. Lay your brush down flat (for a thicker start) and while doing your stroke give it a very light wiggle and taper it off at the end. Each stroke is going to have a curved effect to it. Do a group of three one under the other. This effect would be ideal for cheeks with the markings starting on the outside working in towards the eyes. Doing a similar stroke on the forehead, a group of three on either side and tapering downwards towards the eyes would give a great look for an animal face painting.
PAINTING WHISKERS: If you're face painting any animal fancy dress enthusiasts this Christmas try using a small fine pointed brush, working outwards across the cheeks for a whisker effect. For any fine lines you may be painting, you will find that liquid paints will work the best.
FUR EFFECT: When trying to create a fur effect, use a medium-sized brush, working from the centre outwards. That way the edges taper off. Have a go on paper or a face painting practice pad first until you get to grips with the motion needed for your required effect.
ADVANTAGE OF SPONGES: These will play an important part in your face painting kit, being perfect for applying base coats, large areas of paint on the face and body, and great for blending colours. TIP make them go further by cutting them in half
COLOURS: Don't make the mistake that many learners make and rush out to buy every colour under the rainbow. All you need are your primary colours which are blue, yellow, red and black and white. From these you can mix any colour and shade you want, and it will keep costs down.
GLITTER AND STICK-ON JEWELS: Depending what design you are doing, stick-on jewels, diamante and glitter can be used to stunning effect. However, as with face paint, you need to remember to use only glitter and stick-on jewels that are safe to put on a person's skin (eg body glitter). NEVER use aluminum glitter - polyester only. Aluminum glitter can really hurt the eyes and skin.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Use your family and friends to practise on, trying out different ideas. If you begin practising now, you'll be confident enough by Christmas to paint a whole face and there are some quite spectacular and highly popular choices to have a go at. The Ice Queen and animals will always be favourites along with the traditional Santa and Rudolph.