One of my most frequently asked questions that I get from my customers is, "how many faces can I paint with this set?" or, "I'm painting [x number of] kids; how much paint do I need?"
Many other online retailers will give you a number of how many faces their palette will do. I totally understand, as I know it helps you to estimate how much you need, and they would probably get this same question over and over if they did not assign some sort of number. However, realistically it is impossible to give a real solid estimate for many reasons. There are many factors that affect how long your paint will stretch:
Size of the designs. Are you doing small "cheek art," partial faces, or full face designs? Smaller cheek art will make your paint last MUCH longer than full faces, for obvious reasons. Covering an entire face with white will take up probably the same amount of paint that doing 15-20 unicorns or rainbow clouds on smaller cheek designs. Even the size of your cheek art itself can make a huge difference. Do you paint small, or do you make your designs as large as you can to fill the cheek? Over hundreds of faces, that can make a big difference. Here are some examples of the differences among these levels of designs:
Range of colors in your designs. Are you displaying a board of designs that use all colors of the rainbow? Or are you doing a Christmas event where you'll be using a lot more green and red than other colors? If you're using all colors relatively evenly, a rainbow palette should work great as a starting point for many events. If you're planning to use a lot more of certain colors, the 2.5 ounce cakes will ensure you don't run out, or a few extra palette refills of the colors you're using most. And keep in mind, even if your design menu reflects a wide range of colors, you still can't guarantee you'll use them evenly. I can't tell you how many times I do one unicorn, and then every girl after that wants the same thing, making me use a lot more white than other colors.
How much water you use. Being that the paints are water based, you'll be using water on your brushes and sponges to apply it. The amount of water you use when you paint, coupled with the above factors, can mean the difference of your paints lasting through one gig or through a year's worth of gigs. More water will stretch your paints farther, but give you less vivid colors. Less water can make your paints bright and bold, but not last as long. Every artist will have their own unique ratio that they like to work with.
What type of paint you use. For example, referencing the Kryolan paints that I sell, the metallic, interferenz, and UV-Dayglow paints require more water and more paint to get them to a good covering consistency than the regular Aquacolor bright color palettes, because they are made up of different ingredients. If you use these more sparingly as accents like I do, they will last you years. But if you are trying to paint a tin man and make his entire face look like silver, you could easily use up most of a 2.5 oz cake....whereas a 2.5 oz cake of Aquacolor blue (maybe you're dressing up as Blue Man Group for Halloween?), could cover several people's faces, arms and hands.
How many artists are painting. It would logistically be very hard for more than two artists to share a palette. You could theoretically have one artist on either side of a table with one palette, and then you'll have your "subject" in front of each artist. Having had to share paints in the past myself before, I'd prefer to have my own palette to work from. But, at the bare minimum, I'd suggest 1 palette per 2 artists, if you can afford it. Some artists may use more paint than others as well due to the other factors I mentioned, so increasing the amount of paint you have on hand will help ensure you have enough. Every artist needs their own set of brushes as well...you do not want one artist sitting there painting nobody because he or she is waiting for the outline brush from another artist...otherwise there is no point in having more than one painter.
"So how do I estimate then?!"
So, you may be saying, now what? How am I supposed to estimate what I need?! Many other face paint supply websites will claim some number of faces you can paint with their sets, but the reality is obvious, that it really depends on too many things to give an accurate number. Just know that these numbers are only estimates, based on one person who is making an assumption about how and what you will be painting.
Here are my recommendations to help you decide whether you need a palette set, or the larger individual colors...
Get Refillable Palettes if:
• You are doing a one-time gig, helping out at your local school or church event. (I also put together a Smile Painter Set package for people in your situation, which includes instruction, a design sample sheet, and brushes)
• You already have a full professional kit but would like to play around with a bunch of new colors and affects before investing in the larger cakes.
• You just want to have a set of quality paints around to do your kids' faces every year for Halloween or for their birthdays? Any of the palettes are a great option for you. I'd recommend starting with a set of the bright Aquacolor basic colors to start, the 12 or 6 color palettes depending on the colors you want. If you want to add more excitement to your selection, you can always try out the interferenz paints, metallics, or fluorescent UV-Dayglow paints. Or, you can even build your own set and mix and match on my site. You can always purchase more refill cakes to replace any that run out down the road!
Get the large 2.5 oz cakes if:
• You are planning to paint at a very large event with hundreds of kids
• You are only going to be using a few colors on everyone (example: painting only with the school colors at a football game)
• You are a professional who goes through a lot of paint. (also check out our Business Starter Kit!")
• You don't need the palette packaging and you refill your own paint containers (I use the screw-together clear jars and fill them out of my 2.5 oz stash of paint as needed)
Get a mix of BOTH palettes and 2.5 oz cakes if:
• You are a professional who wants a small, portable set (palette boxes) but use enough that you'll be refilling them a lot. (You can buy the 2.5 oz cakes of each color to keep at home, and refill your little palette box as needed out of that "stash," saving money per ounce over the palette refills.)
• You are doing a small gig but plan on using more of certain colors, such as more red and green at a holiday event or school colors at a football game. (Get a 12 color palette, plus add 2.5 oz cakes of the colors you expect to use a lot more of)
Add these other items if desired:
• Brushes: I'd recommend a set for each artist at minimum: a #5 and #2 round to cover both larger areas and outlining.
• Sponges: If you plan to do full-face designs or do quick rainbows with a rainbow palette, a sponge will cover very large areas very quickly.
• Glitter: If you want to add some sparkle, the "multi" and "blue violet" work great on every color of paint, but there are many colors if you want to have a lot of fun with it!
• Books & Design Sheets: If you've just started getting into face painting and need a little more instruction on how to paint and face painting specifically
• Practice Head: A practice head is great for practice, whether you're just starting out or are a professional looking to perfect your designs on your own schedule without relying on a willing "subject!"
If you're still left wondering after reading this post, feel free to comment here with your questions or shoot me an email...I love to help!