Hunting Guide to Camo Face Paint: Techniques and Tips

by Jon D. B.

No matter what you’re hunting, applying the right face paint can make the difference between harvest or no harvest. Make the most of your next hunt with these techniques and tips for camouflaging your skin correctly.

If you’re here, chances are you’re ready to master your camouflage. While it feels easier to slide any number of clothing options over or around your face, mastering face paint for hunting allows you to fully blend into any environment with ease. So ditch those six different (stupidly expensive) pullovers in your Amazon cart and become a master of camouflage with these tips and tricks from the pros.

Besides, think of how happy you’ll be during the next sweltering hunting season when all you have to do is rub some cool paints onto your exposed skin – rather than put on more clothing.

Let’s get to it!

First Up: Getting the Correct Face Paints for Hunting

You’ve been outside, and you’ve sweated your a** off in hunting gear. When you do so, your skin gives off immense sheen – one that your prey can see from a mile away. Even if you’re cool, calm, and collected, our skin’s natural luminosity, regardless of tone, gleams and glares to most animals even in low light.

As such, the first major benefit of face paint is eliminating said glare altogether. That is, if you’re working with the right paints. So the first major pro tip we’ll embolden here is:

Always make sure your paints are matte and have no sheen.

This is easy if you’re buying expensive hunting face paints, as they’ll always be matte. But if you’re thrifty (like most of us out in the wilds) and using far-cheaper options, apply them at home to your hand under good lighting and make sure there’s zero sheen to the colors. If there is, ditch it. Use anything you can find that’s affordable and matte, too: from Halloween face paints to the stores of your local makeup aisle.

Once you’ve decided what sort of paints you’re going for, it’s best to have the following colors ready to rumble:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Dark Green
  • Natural, Light Green (no lime greens or anything florescent)
  • Natural, Light Tan (avoid anything close to a bone white, that’s too light)

If you really want to do it up right, adding a medium gray to your palette can be very helpful for winter and forest hunts.

Next: Basic Process for Applying Paints to Exposed Skin

When you’ve got your swatch o’ camo paints prepared and to your liking, it’s time to get good with the craft. To do so, you’ll always want to make sure you’re applying the correct colors and patterns for your environment. But more on that in the next section. First, you need to know what you’re doing!

The best way to start any hunting face paint process is by applying your primary color of choice in an asymmetrical fashion. The key here is, remember, to blend in. Painting yourself up to look like a war chief will just make the deer laugh at you as they scamper away. So think uneven, blotchy, full coverage to start.

Cover your entire face, too, if you can stand it. It may go without saying, but the less of you an animal can actively see, the better.

At a minimum, you want to use your dark colors – like black, dark brown, or dark green – to darken our human features that stand out most: the nose, brow/forehead, cheekbones, and chin.

Then, apply your lighter colors, whether tan or light green or gray, to the recessed (deep) areas of your face: eye sockets, below the brow, under your nose and/or mouth. This may seem counter-intuitive but remember: the point of camouflage, in general, is to break up your natural form and appear non-human.

Utilizing both of these techniques together means your end result will have your prominent features darker, and your recessed features lighter.

As you’re doing so, be sure to keep asymmetry in mind and that both sides of your face don’t match one another. Think nature. Be nature.

Extend this base coat idea to your neck and tops of your hands, and anything else that’s going to be exposed. If you’re out hunting Arnold in Predator style in not but your tank top, then it’s full arm paint for you, soldier.

Once you’ve covered every area you wish to be unseen while hunting, blend the edges of your face (and body) paint together. Do so by rubbing one color into the other, and smudging yourself a bit so you look less Pollock and more Picasso.

Finally, Become the Nature: Time to Customize

Now that you’ve got that asymmetrical base layer down, it’s time to customize your face paint to your hunting environment. To do so, you’ll want to apply your colors again, but in specific lines and/or patterns that camouflage best with where you’re headed to harvest.

This next layer, which we’ll call a top coat, should go on in different patterns that either:

  • A.) Match the camo pattern of your clothing
  • B.) Directly match the environment you’ll be in
  • C.) Strive for A & B combined

Don’t worry, we’re not going to leave you high and dry at that. The following patterns and shapes work best in common hunting environments:

  • Apply vertical stripes for wooded, prairie, or savanna areas
  • Use rough blotches for dense undergrowth or bushouts
  • Apply vertical, lighter shade stripes with small spots of darker shades for deep forests
  • Apply blocky, asymmetrical greens and browns for foliage heavy areas
  • Use more gray for winter hunts, more tans for dry areas, etc.

These are just base suggestions, however. The absolute best way to camouflage yourself will always be to get creative and bring a mirror along on the journey and try to match your surroundings as best you can. And if you get laughed at – it may be time to think about switching up your hunting party.

Finally, we go to great lengths to make our hunting clothing and setups look like nature – so why not your face & paint, too?

If you’re camo’ing up in the field, take your direct surroundings and apply them to your paints.

Grab some moss and smear it in with your paint. Crumble up dry leaves and apply with your paint while wet. Every little bit helps, and breaking up the smooth texture of our skin goes a long way in dissolving that ever-threatening human presence.

While there are plenty of named face paint designs and the like online, as well, we’re all about doing it your own way at Outsider. As such, the pro tips above should go much further in preparing you to paint-up in any hunting situation: no matter the time or place.

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