How to Do the Joker's Face Paint

Written by tuesday fuller
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How to Do the Joker's Face Paint
The Joker card is used as the calling card for Batman's rival, the Joker. (Joker image by Bluekea from Fotolia.com)

Whether your preference is for the 1989 hauntingly classier version of Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the Joker or the darker, menacing version Heath Ledger gave us in 2008, there is no denying that the Joker has undying appeal to Batman fans of all ages. There is a certain level of artistic skill required to recreate that famous maniacal grin and, of course, whether or not you can truly pull off a convincing Joker lies in your commitment to the character. However, unlike so many other characters, you'll have a lot more fun pretending to be Batman's most infamous villain.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Nose putty or moulding wax
  • Liquid latex
  • Tissue paper
  • Spirit gum
  • Wide brush
  • Make-up sponges
  • Foundation brushes
  • White face paint
  • Green face paint
  • Gray eye shadow or face paint
  • Brown eye shadow or face paint
  • Red face paint or lipstick
  • Lipstick brush
  • Fake skin
  • Flat screwdriver or toothpick

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Soften the nose putty or moulding wax by rubbing it between your hands for a few minutes until it is pliable.

  2. 2

    Smile your widest smile and take note of where your laugh lines appear, how big your cheekbones swell and the shape your lips take on. You may want to wear this expression through the entire application just to keep yourself on track. It also helps you stay in character.

  3. 3

    Begin layering the nose putty over your cheekbones and down your cheeks. If it does not stick well on its own, use spirit gum to adhere the product to your skin. You can also use liquid latex and tissue paper to build layers. You should have a few layers built up to create the Joker's chemical scars. Remember that the Joker's smile looks a lot like the bat signal. Do not apply any putty to the area inside your laugh lines or near the mouth.

  4. 4

    Still wearing your smile, press some nose putty onto your lips and smooth it outward with your fingertips. You can pull the putty out as long as you like to form the Joker's exaggerated grin. Use the putty to form the philtrum, those two angular lines between the lips and nose. You'll notice that even in Jack's smile, his philtrum is still highly visible.

  5. 5

    Use a wide brush or make-up sponge and apply white face paint to your entire face, paying close attention to the hairline, ears and neck. Use a foundation brush to touch up any areas of the face still exposed, such as around the eyes and in any gaps in the nose putty.

  6. 6

    Apply grey eye shadow or face paint with a foundation brush to create shadows around the eyes and temples. Remember that in Jack's version, this is a mild enhancement, so don't overdo it.

  7. 7

    Use a foundation brush and apply green face paint to your eyebrows. Instead of following your own brow lines, create a diabolical arch to mimic that of the Joker's.

  8. 8

    Use a lipstick brush and bright red face paint or lipstick to paint your lips. Use lip putty to recreate the famous Joker grin.

  1. 1

    Rub a ball of fake skin in your palm until it is easy to work with. Lay it out on a clean flat surface. If you wish, you can use liquid latex or moulding wax and build directly on your face.

  2. 2

    Use a flat screwdriver or toothpick and shape the skin or moulding wax into the desired scar shape. For a realistic effect, create two upper and two lower thin scar lines that can be built up to a natural look instead of two large scars that may not fit your face correctly.

  3. 3

    Use the flat screwdriver to lift the scars from the work surface. Dry-fit them onto your face to test for shape and size. Make any adjustments necessary.

  4. 4

    Use the brush that comes with the spirit gum and paint the corners of your mouth and cheek with the adhesive. Let it sit for a few minutes until it becomes tacky. Paint the backs of the scars as well for a better stick. Place the scars on your face and let it sit a moment to cure.

  5. 5

    Use a make-up sponge or your hands and smear white face paint over your entire face. In the version played by Heath, the make-up is applied sloppily and uneven. Try to recreate this look and don't worry too much about details. After all, you're trying for crazy, not articulate.

  6. 6

    Use brown face paint or eye shadow and smudge on dark circles around your eyes to give them that piercing and insane look. Use this product to add creases in the forehead and eyebrows for a dark and brooding look.

  7. 7

    Trace your lips and scars with red lipstick or face paint, again trying not to be perfect. Smear the colour across your lips and scars with your fingertips to mimic the Joker's menacing smile.

  8. 8

    Notice that Heath's version of the Joker always has smeared and running make-up. You can recreate this look in small bits by smearing the edges of the coloured portions of your make-up with your fingertips or by lightly misting your face with water and letting the make-up run. This only works for water-based face paints.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep a few pictures of your favourite Joker version near your work area to keep your design on track.
  • When working with moulding wax or nose putty, it may be helpful to build your facial enhancements on a clean, flat surface first. Then simply dab a little spirit gum to the back and adhere them to your face.
  • If you use spirit gum, purchase spirit gum remover or baby oil to help remove the product from the skin.
  • Always perform a test on your wrist to test for allergies to costume make-up and moulding waxes and putty.

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