Batman Sugar Skull Combo Tutorial


I recently joined some face painting group challenges, and the results have pressed me to move outside my comfort zone as an artist. While painting unusual themes or trying new styles feels uncomfortable at first, stretching as artists is imperative, and I wanted to share some of the resulting designs in the form of tutorials.

Today’s design is from a challenge to combine the styles of two well-known artists into one new design, and then to allow the rest of the group to guess which artists you were combining. For my design, I chose Corey Morgan, the king of anything super hero, and Shawna del Real, who is well-known for her flawless sugar skulls.


Paradise white face paint
Wolfe white face paint
Paradise dark blue face paint
Paradise black face paint
Diamond FX black face paint
Paradise light blue face paint
Paradise silver face paint
• Small black and white split cake
3/4-inch flat brush
1/2-inch flat brush
#2 round brush


Begin by sponging a large circle of Paradise white in the center of the forehead and sponging white on the lower skull area. You may have to go over this a second time after it dries to get good coverage.


Next, blend in some dark blue at the top of the white circle and some light blue half way down with your sponge. Keep in mind that you could experiment with colors for this. I chose white because the base image is a skull, but this top area could be other colors as well.


Load the 3/4-inch (or 1-inch) brush from a small split of black and white face paint. Sharpen the lower edge of the skull by outlining it with this. You’ll probably have to go back in with the sponge and white to make sure you don’t have an inner line if white from the brush work.


Use your 1/2-inch flat brush and dark blue to paint the batman mask.


Sponge silver over the temples and down across the eyes to create the illusion of a shine on the mask. Also put a little at the center of the mask.


Load the 1/2-inch flat brush with Paradise black, which is a softer black, and blend the top down into the blue below. For the bottom of the mask, outline with your lining black (Wolfe or Diamond FX) and a #2 round brush.


At the top of the skull, add some smaller bats with your #2 round brush and black. On the lower portion above the mouth, you can either outline the teeth with upside-down V-shapes and blend them down with a small blending brush, or you could just color the top of the lip white and draw straight lines down over it, which is very common for sugar skulls.


Don’t forget the nose for your skull. How well I remember having a family over to my house so I could paint their children for photo examples, and then later realizing (when it was too late) that I had forgotten to paint a nose on the puppy face painting. You don’t want your skull to leave the chair with his nose missing, so load your 1/2-inch flat brush with black and brush up and toward the bridge of the nose to make a U-shape which softens into the white above it.


Finally, add some of the flourishes on the cheek area that are consistent with sugar skulls. You don’t have a lot of space for this, but with a masculine sugar skull, it’s not necessary to add a lot. Without the flourishes, it will look like a regular skull, but with them, it will definitely leave more of a sugar skull impression.


Beth MacKinney is the owner of and primary face painter for Face Paint Pizzazz in the NW Chicago suburbs. She also writes blog posts for and articles for as the Chicago Face Painting Examiner.

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