Body painting is not always done on fully nude bodies, but can involve smaller pieces on displayed areas of otherwise clothed bodies.
Many artists work professionally as body painters across the world.
Their work is seen regularly in television commercials, print adverts, etc… featuring models camouflaged into different backgrounds.
Body painters also work frequently in the film arena especially in science fiction with more and more elaborate alien creations being body painted.
Stills advertising also use body painting with hundreds of body painting looks on the pages of the world’s glossy magazines every year.
Modern face and body paints are made according to stringent guidelines,
meaning these are non-toxic, usually non-allergenic, and can easily be washed away.
These are either applied with hands, paint brush or alternatively with an airbrush.
Contrary to the popular myth perpetuated by the James Bond film Goldfinger, a person is not asphyxiated if their whole body is painted, although wearing body paint for a prolonged period may cause heat stroke by inhibiting perspiration.
As for Mehndi, natural brown henna dyes are safe to use; however, synthetic black dyes containing PPD can cause serious skin allergies, and should be avoided due to the substantial risk of serious injury.
Whatever the type of body paint (the same is true for cosmetics), should the skin show any sign of allergy, one should immediately cease using it. Moreover, it should not be applied onto open wounds, nor should it be applied too close to the eyes.
It is not advisable to use paints or products which have not been formulated for use on the body as these can result in serious allergic reactions.
Manufacturers of widely available professional body and face paint include: Kryolan, Mehron, Snazaroo, Wolfe Face Art & FX, Ben Nye and Fardel.
We use only the best body and face paint available.
Tips For Models
These tips for bodypainting models are taken from the book
“Bringing Bodypainting to Life” by Karala Barendregt.
The tips are designed for models working at the World Bodypainting Festival in Austria but can be useful to all bodypainting models.
Special thanks goes to the World Bodypainting Festival website where this is from. Click here to go to the website.
Modelling for a bodypainting is an amazing experience that can build confidence and open up areas of a person’s character they haven’t explored before.
Any person can try it so use the opportunity to enjoy and explore.
Getting ready: Remove body hair where necessary. Moisturise the evening before but not in the morning unless the artist specifies.
Bring – Hot pants and G-string, white without lace or decoration. Check what colour is to be painted on the day.
Black Hot Pants or G-string is better for UV painting.
Hair brush, soap and baby oil for hard to remove paint, shampoo and scrubber.
Towel and clothes that can get dirty.
Music if needed for a performance.
Stretch well before painting time to start off with a warmed up body. This helps to avoid cramps and to stay focused. It is easier to pose once the painting is finished.
Try to keep the body as relaxed as possible. Drink water in small mouthfuls spaced over time.
Drinking a whole bottle of water at once makes going to the toilet more constant.
Keep muscles warm by tensing and relaxing them. Do mini stretches that don’t disturb the artist.
Eat food that will give energy but not be too heavy or messy.
Fruit, muesli, light grainy bread can make good energy snacks.
Sugar gives a fast boost but no lasting energy so don’t rely on it all day.
Energy drinks or energy lozenges are good just before going on stage or into the photography area but don’t use them all day as they can also bring on a drop in energy.
Be aware of artist needs. Where are they painting? Is it a small detail? Can you move to help?
Do you already know your artist? If not speak with them about their idea so that you can prepare yourself for your performance and posing.
Do they have music for you to dance to? Listen to it when possible.
A performance should have a beginning, middle and end.
Move in an appropriate way to reflect the body art.
Be dramatic. Make eye contact with the audience, photographers and video crew, and interact.
Enjoy it! Make every performance something to remember.
Photographing the art work is very important as it is the only way to preserve body art.
Do a variety of poses that complement the artwork.
Don’t move too quickly as the photographers need time to frame their pictures. Listen to the camera flashes! If the photographers are clicking furiously then it is a good pose.
Keep it a little longer and try to make eye contact with all photographers.
Do small variations on that pose.
When the flashes go quiet then try something new. Make eye contact! Change facial expressions! Try poses that use a variety of levels and make it interesting. Use the ground, and the air, jump, fly, be alive.
Showering. When paint is difficult to remove, try baby oil. If the artist has used glues to attach things then they may have a specific solution to remove the glue.
Stretch again before sleeping to avoid waking up with a cramp.
I believe that art is a transitional medium. Any good artist is always learning and has never finished their path. That is why I enjoy being an artist so much, for me every job is immensely fulfilling and stretches my creative boundaries in new directions.
As a bodypainter I am interested in celebrating the body and exploring how creative I can be using this exciting alternative canvas. I don’t think bodypainting needs to be about sex, for me a body is simply another canvas but one which can move and mould and has its own attitude.
How do you see body painting as art form?
As an art form bodypainting is a completely different way to express yourself.
It is utterly different from working on a flat canvas or paper. You are also expressing your interpretation of your model. I find it is really inspiring as each body is a different shape, and you have to work with that shape and build it into your design, a body or a view of a part of the body can give you an idea which can be quite exciting to develop into a new design.
I particularly like the style of bodypainting known as trompe l’oeil which is French for an optical illusion or trick of the eye. I like recreating clothes, jewellery or items onto a body to make them look real but to give clues to show that they are unreal. I also am fascinated with blending people into backgrounds, camoflauging them like a chameleon into the surroundings.
What is the best type of paint to use?
It depends on several factors: Firstly the look you are trying to achieve, The timescale you have to work within and how durable the finished look needs to be. In my opinion the best products are solid water based body paints for detail. This is because they are incredibly versatile. They can be used dry for some effects, and very watered down for others or regularly mixed for normal coverage. It gives you the full versatility of an artist’s palette. I always use liquid body paint for speed of application. I tend to use Kryolan’s Liquid bodypaint, which is an excellent product. I find it particulary good for creating an excellent durable easy to apply base.
What techniques do you use?
Techniques wise there are many, and my style has changed dramatically over the years as I have developed new techniques. Mainly I work freehand with my airbrush. I use a lot of stencils in my work as this makes things go a lot faster than hand painting. Always work quickly when applying a base. This is a really good technique if you want to use tone and shade to make your painting look realistic. Handy things to use to make things quick and easy are masking tape (to ensure straight edges) Making your own stencils (to create neat and perfect logos and lettering where appropriate. I have taken to having laser cut stencils made for detailed work and logos) Things like fishnets or lace when painted through give a great effect. These techniques work very well with airbrushing.
What tips do you have for my first time painting a model?
Get your model to exfoliate well and moisturise their skin for the week before they are to be painted. This will get rid of dead skin meaning their skin is a better starting surface and also meaning that the paint is less likely to stain. Try to meet up with them before hand so it is less embarrassing for them and for you. Treat your model, as you would hope to be treated if you were being painted. Respect them and their wishes. Consult with them as to what they are happy to wear (if anything.) Take good care of your model’s comfort. Is there a private room for the painting to take place in? Is it warm enough for them or is it cool enough for them. Make sure they are comfortable if they are going to be naked for hours. Do you want to paint them lying down? (Massage couches covered in a sheet are great for this!) The more comfortable they are the less embarrassed they will be. Make sure they have magazines to read, music to listen to? Remeber if your model is happy they are much more likely to pose for a great photo when you have finished, if they are cold, miserable or angry they might not take the best photo!
What would you do to finish off your bodypainting look for the camera?
To finish your body-painted look consider how you want it to be viewed. What do you want the impact to be? Does it stand alone (have you painted someone to look dressed and hope to pass them off in a crowd) or does it require a background, props, accessories, hair styling, and cosmetic make-up on the face??? Body painting can look terrible if the look is not well styled. If you are not working with a stylist think about what you want your whole finished look to be, how do you want the photograph to look? Make sure you have all the accessories you need to achieve that look whether that is huge and outrageously flamboyant headdresses, or whether it is a more understated look.