Puffy Paint Portrait Project

Puffy Paint Portrait Project

Maybe it’s the alliteration, but we’ve been way into puffy paint lately. This project took me a long time to figure out- I knew the technique I wanted to use, but wasn’t sure how to finish the project, until Fen and I were messing around with materials for a different project – coming soon… (How’s that for foreshadowing?) • Puffy Paint Portrait Project


  • Puffy Fabric Paint
  • Wax paper
  • Magazine faces
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Optional: Watercolors, old book pages, colored cardstock



Lay wax paper down on a magazine page you want to trace. We found big old beautiful close-ups of model faces. Now is a good time to explain to your child that people don’t actually look like this in real life. (This makes me want to write a Photoshop post for kids, but I barely know Photoshop. Anybody up for writing a guest post?)

Puffy Paint Project


Trace with the puffy paint, focusing on outlining the main features of the face. We’re going fo simplicity here, so urge them to not draw lots of individual hair strands. It’s all about capturing the outlines of the shapes on the face.

Puffy Paint Portrait Project


Make sure they are doing this on a surface where their piece won’t be disturbed for about 24 hours. Painting on top of a baking tray or large cutting board that can then be moved easily off the table is a good idea. Try to move it up high, because you will all be tempted to touch the paint after a few hours to see if it is dry, and it won’t be, so it will smear. This is experience talking.

After the paint is totally dry, pick it off the wax paper. This is fun! Sometimes it will want to stick to the wax paper, but we found that if you flick it up with your fingernail it comes up pretty easily. Now you see why you didn’t want to draw a ton of detail lines; the thicker the paint marks, the more easily they come up off of the wax paper.

Puffy Paint Project


Arrange your paint lines on top of paper and glue them down. We tried one on top of a watercolored piece of paper, and one on top of a page ripped out of an old encyclopedia, mounted on a dark grey piece of colored cardstock. This was our favorite. Pay attention to trying to keep your background light if you use dark fabric paint, or dark if you use light fabric paint. This will help the images pop.

Puffy Paint Project


Puffy Paint Portrait Project

In case you were marveling at this mouth, the model’s mouth was slightly smaller.

We used Tulip Slick Dimensional Fabric Paint, but I found this puffy paint on Amazon with good reviews:

puffy paint

What do you think?


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  1. now this is awesome. also? i’d happily write a photoshop post for you. actually screencast/ video would be easier for me. just email me the points you’d like to get across and any pictures you’d like me to manipulate. i worked for a retouching house for 8 years. there are some magazines that go to the extreme when it comes to “adjusting things”. i’m glad my kids saw it first hand.

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