Steps for grim reaper face painting

Updated August 10, 2017

The Grim Reaper is a classic Halloween costume. Simple and spooky, it requires only a black robe, a scythe and a skull mask or makeup. Good skull makeup emphasises the face's natural bone structure to create a chilling vision of death. Creating a suitably scary Grim Reaper is easy, with only a few simple supplies needed. Once you have the basic face completed, you can embellish it as much as you like.

Paint the whole face white using a makeup sponge and white face paint. You can leave some of the area around the eyes unpainted; you will be filling these areas in with black later.

Add dark circles around the eyes using black makeup. Fill the hollow under the brow ridge completely; for added effect, you can even expand a little further onto the upper part of the cheek.

Create a black hollow to represent the skull's nose. This should sit just above the tip of the nose and be shaped like an inverted heart or the ace of spades.

Fill in the cheek, following the line of the cheekbone with black face paint and then adding a shaded area below it. This will give the face a hollow, sunken appearance. Don't be worried if the black and white makeup blend a little here; your goal is to create a shaded appearance.

Line the lips where they meet using black face paint and a makeup brush. You may want to adda a little water to your makeup to make it flow more smoothly. Draw black vertical lines up and down from the lips -- which should be white -- to create the appearance of teeth. Don't draw too many lines; only the front teeth should be visible. Seven lines to make eight teeth ought to do it. Your Grim Reaper face paint is now ready for the hood.


You can add further detail such as cracks or tooth definition to give your work more realism. One good place to add black makeup is the hollow of the temple. Feel for this hollow, which begins at the end of the brow ridge, and darken it to help cretae a skeletal effect. In some costumes, however, this area may be careful with the hood.


Be careful when painting in the eye sockets. Have your subject close their eyes in order to avoid getting paint in them.

Things You'll Need

  • Black and white water-based face paint
  • Makeup sponge
  • Makeup brushes
  • Water
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About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.