Tutorial for Space-Inspired Starfighter Design

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My new favorite subject for face painting is sci-fi. I hope you have some fun with this surprisingly simple space battle, and that you’re able to add it to your face painting repertoire.


Kryvaline Glowgaze split cake
Paradise grey
Paradise black
TAG pearl black
Diamond FX black
Diamond FX white
Global yellow
Global orange
#1 round brush
#2 round brush


Load one end of the curved sponge from half of you Kryvaline Glowgaze split cake and dab it randomly around the edge of the eye and on the cheekbone, leaving a few blank spots. Load the other edge of the sponge from the other end of the Glowgaze split cake and dab it to fill in the empty areas.

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Load your sponge from a combination of Paradise black and TAG pearl black and lightly dab it in some areas over the top of the Glowgaze. This will create a nebula effect for your background.

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Load your #2 round brush from a combination of grey and white. The wings will create the shape of a flattened X, so it’s not a complicated shape. Draw the body and wing shapes, keeping in mind one-point perspective which you’ll be using for the shots fired into space.

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You’ll place four cylindrical shapes on the wings next to the fuselage, which is a tapered wedge shape. A line indicating the line of fire should come from the end of each of the guns toward the central explosion, which you can create with white mixed with yellow at the center.

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Add a little orange when you get to the outer edge of the explosion and pull your brush strokes out and away in straight lines from the center in a random manner.

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Begin to fill in the shape of the ship with a white and grey mixture.

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Using the Paradise black and TAG pearl black, which are both softer black colors, fill in the areas away from the explosion which will be darker. For the engines firing, use Diamond FX white mixed with some Global yellow and a tiny bit of Global orange.

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As I started to use my deeper black (Diamond FX black), I also created the enemy fighter, which is at the center of the explosion. The other fighter is an even easier shape to deal with as it’s just a sphere with two arms and two hexagons.

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Using the Diamond FX black and your #1 round brush, make a straight line by your inner circle. You’ll only need one of these, since this design shows the enemy fighter in the process of blowing up. Also use your black to create a more definitive outline for the fighter. I don’t put a lot of specific detail in, but just some dots and lines to give the idea of details and texture. You can tap these while they’re wet to soften the shapes.

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Expand the line to be a flattened hexagonal shape on the side of the enemy fighter. Where the other hexagon would be, I added a few tiny dots for the blown up pieces.

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In this design, the highlights are very important. Without them, it’s not going to pop off the face. Use some highlights around the front of the wings, the front of the ship, and around the exploding ship. I also added some tiny starbursts and dots in the space around the ships since my battle is taking place in space.

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Since perspective can be challenging while creating these designs, I wanted to share the following tip. If you happen to have kids who collect Lego® model ships (which I do), you can set the models up on a black background and photograph them from different angles to help you plan your design. Here are some shots I took. I can get the basic starship shapes and how they look flying in a certain direction from these photographed models.

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

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