Halloween Costume Tips: How to Paint Your Face Like a Rock Star


Tony Nelson
This look might be difficult to recreate, but we've got some inspiration for you.

Halloween is upon us, music fans. Where did all that costume-making time go? Did you spend more on a pumpkin keg than you have for a spooky look? No worries. You're not the only one feeling the frightening fatigue of pumpkin-spiced everything.

Luckily, you can make a Halloween look on the cheap and easy with a little bit of face paint and a steady hand. Here's some easy inspiration so you can channel your inner rock star.

Photos by Tony Nelson

Yeah, we're getting Kiss out of the way early. It's classic, easy and you only need two colors: black and white (and sometimes silver and green, if you're feeling fancy). First, pick your poison -- do you want to be the Starchild or Spaceman? The Demon or the Ankh Warrior? How 'bout the Cat or the Fox? Your best bet to getting the outline you want is to use some eyeliner to freehand the design before your bust out the white foundation. Once you've got it, smear that clown-white paint all over (but not inside those outlines!), and finish off by filling in the outline with your jet-black paint.

Photos by Ryan Siverson

Insane Clown Posse

For some people, being a juggalo or juggalette is a way of life. For others, it's a super-easy Halloween costume. Black and white are the classic colors for this freaky, clown-inspired, face-paint extravaganza, but we've seen plenty of amazing and colorful Juggalos in our time. Like Kiss's makeup, you'll probably want to outline what'll soon become the black portions of your clown makeup first with eyeliner. Plus, outlining first leaves less room for the white makeup to peek through the black spots -- or turn 'em gray.

Aladdin Sane album cover (left), photo by Dave Eckblad (right)

David Bowie
There's plenty of inspiration to draw from David Bowie, but we're suckers for his iconic lightning bolt from Aladdin Sane. Unless you've got the steadiest hand ever, you'll probably want to cheat a little bit and use a piece of paper or a ruler to help you draw straight lines with eyeliner for that lightning bolt on your face. Remember to do a thin outer stripe of blue on the bolt, then a line of black, and then fill in the rest with bright red.

Screengrab from Glastonbury performance (left), photo by Tony Nelson (right)

Arcade Fire
Imagine you're wearing wrap-around sunglasses. Now, imagine those glasses are actually just paint. There you go, you're Win Butler. Get some black, and paint horizontally across your browline, then bring some triangles down around your eyes (like sunglasses, duh). Fill that all in with black paint (or eyeshadow, if you want a more delicate look), and finish off the look with white paint along the bottom of the triangles.

Screengrab from music video (left), photo by Dave Eckblad (right)

Gotye, a.k.a. just somebody we used to listen to. (We kid...he was pretty great on the Gatsby soundtrack.) For this intricate look, you'll need a lot of neutral colors -- see pinkish reds, maroons, etc. You can get a good gradient of colors by combining a little bit of red with various amounts of white for lighter hues and black for darker ones. Then find a point on your face where you want the epicenter of your angled face paint to sit. Start drawing polygons to your heart's content with some eyeliner, and fill 'em in with all those different shades. Bonus points if you can find someone to don a bob-cut wig and tag along with you as Kimbra.

Photos by Erik Hess

It might be difficult to type tUnE-yArDs, but it's easy to get the group's painted faces. Fill in some dots and circles of various sizes on your cheeks, draw a line from cheek to cheek across your nose, or go for the crazy look in the "Bizness" video. Just like capitalization, anything goes in the realm of tUnE-yArDs' face paint as long as you have fun with it.

Applause cover (left), photo by Tony Nelson (right)

Lady Gaga
Get all the applause at your Halloween party for Gaga's cover look for "Applause" with a canvas-white foundation. Apply lots of light blue to your top lid and dark blue underneath your eyes. Take your fingertips and drag them from that navy blue toward your chin -- think Edvard Munch's "The Scream." Next, dab some yellow and orange on the corner of your mouth and smear it around on your cheek -- kind of like you got some mustard on your face while eating a hot dog. Tip: Make your eyes really pop with metallic face paint or eyeshadow.

via Stitches' Facebook

St. Louis might not be ready for Stitches (or, more appropriately given his no-show, he might not be ready for us), but that doesn't mean you can't go out on the town for a night as Stitches 2.0. For Stitches' half-Jack Skellington-half-Glasgow-smile look, you just need some black eyeliner. Extend your "smile" up your cheek at both corners of your mouth, and draw some equidistant, faux stitches until you get back to your maw. Then, draw some vertical lines above and below your lips (not on your lips though!). Feel free to add the rest of Stitches' various tatts -- from the star below his left eye to the lipstick kiss on his neck -- to complete the look. Pro tip: Don't throw blow around when you're out and about.

Screengrabs from music video

Walk the Moon
Walk the Moon might've just started painting their faces willy-nilly, but now it's a bona fide thing among the group's fans to one-up each other at the shows. Channel the "Anna Sun" look with a line of dots down your nose, a zigzag on one cheek and a few stripes on the other...or just get a friend to smear random paint all over your face. That works, too.

Some People Have Real Problems cover (left), screengrab from Jimmy Kimmel (right)

Even though it's been a while since we've seen her perform facing an audience, Sia's back into full-face paint -- and even her dancing surrogates are getting in on the blonde-bob-colorful-faced look. Like Gotye's look, there's a lot of paint -- but this time it's bold, contrasting colors that you'll want to combine.

The Essential Adam Ant cover (left), Prince Charming cover (right)

Adam Ant
The most important part of retro Adam Ant? Fabulous eyeliner. Once you've got your perfect cat eyes down pat (you can even line those brows, too), then you can experiment with face paint. Whether you just brush a line of white paint across your nose, a heart on your temple, or a coupl'a red stripes on your cheek, go for minimalist impact.

Time After Time cover (left), "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" cover (right)

Cyndi Lauper
You know all those cliches about big, bold hair and makeup in the '80s? Cyndi Lauper was, without a doubt, a walking, singing embodiment of the '80s. Channeling Cyndi means you'll have to get vibrant with your makeup. Whether you go with straight eyeshadow all over your eyelids or you put a few random shapes and lines of face paint on your lids, the more the merrier. Get friendly with your blush brush and make your cheeks ultra rosy. Add a quintessentially '80s wig (i.e., huge), and you've become a veritable blast from the past for Halloween.


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