How to Properly Apply Camouflage Face Paint

by Philadelphia Tivoli · 11 comments

Do you want to know the secrets and techniques for applying camoflage face paint? Read this article I found…it was written for adults who want to apply camo face paint but can you can adapt it for kids. It covers some pretty advanced techniques, so if you really want to further your face painting you should be experimenting with this!


(idea) by St.George (2 mon)

You see it in movies all the time, actors who don’t have a clue, trying to put camo face paint on their faces, and ending up looking very silly indeed. I will try to explain how to put your camo face paint on properly and why it should be done like that.

Firstly you must understand why things are seen, they all begin with S or M, (except one) so remember that and it shouldn’t be that hard. They are:

camo face paint* Shine
* Shape
* Shadow
* Sound
* Movement
* And Colour

By putting on camo face paint, you are trying to stop some of these things being noticed. To a human, one of the most recognisable things that you can possibly see is another human, or a human face. So it is very important that you make your face as unrecognisable as possible, this does not mean that you put one strip of paint under each eyes, nor does it mean that you paint your face so green that you look like a serious case of facial gangrene.

So, the first thing to do is to make sure you have the right type of camo face paint. To begin with it has to be waterproof, otherwise you’d have to re-apply it after every time it rained. [This is not necessary for face painting kids] Second, you have to make sure you have the right colours.

Black is no good at all (unless you are applying Urban cam), as it does not occur naturally in the wild. The two colours you will need for the majority of the time are brown and green.

Firstly you need to eliminate shine. The way you do this is with a thin layer of brown all over you face, neck (don’t forget the back) and ears. Get some of the brown and put it in your palm, in order to make a thinner layer you must then spit on the paint in your palm. After spitting on start to apply it to your face, not too thickly, it should be a nice even layer of light brown. Don’t forget to do your eyelids, and rub some into your eyebrows and the beginning of your hairline as well. When done properly this completely eliminates the natural shine produced by your face.

Now to get rid of the shape of your face. The most distinguishable features on your face are your mouth, your eyes and your nose. You want to break these shapes up, so do not put circles around your eyes, a line down your nose, and a line along your mouth, not only will you be more obvious you will also look like a sick panda. Draw lines with your fingers in the different greens and a few in brown. They need to cut down the eyes vertically or diagonally, across the nose horizontally or diagonally and down the mouth vertically or horizontally, this is so the shape of your face is broken up.

Do one or two lines on each of your ears, and a couple going down and across your neck. Do three or four on each cheek going downwards. Make all of the stripes small, you don’t want massive tiger stripes going right down your face, though it looks quite cool, it can make you quite obvious. (Hamsterman says you only use stripes in coniferous forests. In deciduous forests, a series of blobs is used to the same effect.- But I think stripes look cooler).

The only time you can do anything about shadow is by adjusting the amount or the darkness of cam on your face according to how much shadow is around.

Sound and Movement don’t really apply here, and colour is pretty obvious (lots of green and brown).

Follow those steps and you’ll start looking like a proper soldier who knows what they’re doing, not like a muppet.

[Article Source: ]


Hope you enjoyed that, happy face painting!

Philadelphia Tivoli
“Helping You Paint with Your Favorite Face Paints!”
Click Here to Buy Face Paints!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline Shepherd Tue at 12:11 pm

great blog Philidelphia, I am learning so much and as i have only been going a short while i am so grateful for any tips i can get. Business is going well and i have a few things booked into through to next year. Thanks Again Caroline Shepherd


Bobby Petersen Wed at 9:34 pm

Well there are a lot of valid tips here, but saying that black “does not natually occur in the wild” is wrong. There are shadows everywhere, even in broad daylight! In our infantry training at Ft. Benning, GA we were instructed to use black on the protruding areas of the face, such as the nose and brow areas. An area of the face that is recessed, like the eye sockets for example, would naturally tend to form shadows, so the theory is to reverse it. SO….Natually light area should go dark and naturally dark areas go light. This is how to make a face not look like a face.


Nathan Mon at 1:52 pm

Bobby, whoever instructed you to use black in a non-urban setting didn’t know what they were talking about. Shadows are not black: they are darker shades of the original color (e.g. a green tree in a shadow is dark green, not black). Try it out sometime…put one of your buddies into full cammo and then send him into a forest with an M4. If he has proper camouflage, the first thing you will see is the black M4 every time. We’ve proved this over and over again to all the new guys in our unit. If you are going to use black paint, mix it with the green or brown to make darker shades. Also, if you just apply the make-up in the opposite pattern of nature (dark->light & light->dark), your mind still makes the association with a face (you still recognize a face in a negative of a photograph). Your mind still recognizes the pattern of the shape. The author of this article is correct: you need to break up the natural patterns and shapes of the face…follow the author’s advice and you won’t go wrong.


Hamish Fri at 7:32 am

Every time i have applied cam-paint for or during a bush exercise we always run over the basics in our head: Night-dark Day-light. Simple. If you plan on having the same layer of paint on during the day and the night, use light green, dark green and brown, grey-blue can also be used but i wouldn’t recommend it. It’s only a matter of common sense.


Abby McBride Fri at 4:06 am

LOVE the guide hoping i can follow it in the morning as I paint my 9yo sons face (and turning my head when i spit in my hand…LOL)

Suggestion… a couple of instructions pictures would be greatly helpful esp to this mom who according to my son “Has no clue what I’m doing” he already told me tonight “mom i sure hope you bought enough face paint for when you mess up”

My son has been intrigued with the military service since about the age 3 by the age of 5 when it was time to begin school he asked if he could go to VMI or a military school (which i can not afford :( but anyways this boy is so knowledgeable in every facet of the army weapons vehicles and the wars .. he was very upset last year when the school didn’t even comment or recognize D Day and he has been adamant that he is going to enlist to the army as soon as he is old enough.. He prefers the history and military channels over any cartoon channel any day of the week

anyways so anything i can do to help him I am trying to learn. I’m trying to find materials and really good instructions on how to make a ghillie suit for him for Christmas …. but in the meantime he is borrowing his uncles for his character dressup tomorrow and for trick or treating this weekend.

A lot more info then needed to be here i know but thank you for writing a detailed and comical set of instructions

Abby in VA


Philadelphia Tivoli Fri at 6:17 am

Thank Abby!


jason Sat at 5:29 pm

Good luck with your son. He looks to be a soldier in the making. Impress upon him his duty to the CONSTITUTION above all else. We are in troublesome times.


Daniel Sun at 12:22 am

Good guide I tried it out for my soldier costume for the halloween party I’m going to, it looks good!


lego master Mon at 7:37 am

havent tried this yet but sounds great. thanks!


Dive Master Mon at 7:09 pm

Its true that the first thing you recognize is the human skin on a person. Sadly too we use things from day to day which does not always help the cause. Wrist watches and even bare hands are equally as bad as not having anything covering your face. Of course there are some things you can do to lose the face appearance such as camoflauged face mask and so forth but these become constrictive in alot of ways such as trapping heat.

You dont really have to hide your face you just have to make it look like the surrounding area. By doing the lighter colors in the eyes and darker in higher profile areas such as chin and nose it helps offset the ability to instantly identify it as a human face. When you add this with a few simple other measures such as a guille suit or a camo boonie cap and then the natural enviroment say hiding behind a bush and you are virtually invisible.


jason Sat at 5:28 pm

Black was not used or issued to you in infantry school…. how do I know? I was there. You were issued a P.O.S. camo stick that was sandy loam and light green or forest green. that was more likely to cut your face than actually color it. If you go to Ranger School or other specialty schools you may learn some advanced techniques regarding different pattern and color management. 99.9999999999% of military learn the two color technique with the gi issue loam and green. you don’t even get into blacks and darker colors until you hit the olive base patterns.


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