An Introduction to Body Painting
The art of body painting covers a vast area of painted effects and some make-up artists choose to specialise in this subject, working through an agent, usually in fashion and advertising. There are also many gifted make-up artists who include body painting as an additional skill. These tend to work in film and TV.
Body painting is the art of painting any effect on a body – from a simple tattoo on the arm to the reproduction of a famous painting – or painting a model to look fully clothed. To be successful in this highly creative niche, an arts background is needed – or at least a familiarity with the skills of drawing and painting.
As the body painting the process is very time-consuming, it is essential to plan any design on paper and apply it to a mannequin or model before the shoot. This is a great way to overcome problems with the design or final look in advance.
The materials used for painting are special watercolours for the skin. These are available from professional make-up shops. These are supplied in liquids, creams, and palettes of varied colours.
The tools used to apply the body paints are various sponges, brushes, or any type of tool which gives the desired coverage, including airbrushing.
- stencils are useful for repeat patterns;
- masking tape is good for a clean edge effect;
- natural or stipple sponges for stippling textures;
- and feathers may be used for marbling effects.
For a statue effect it’s best to use a large, bath-sized natural sponge to stipple the appearance of stone. Chinese brushes will also give a marble effect similar to using feathers. Specialist books on creating paint effects for furniture are useful.
So long as you use watercolour make-up instead of paint, you can employ the same techniques for gilding, tortoise shell effects, etc.
For painting clothes on the body, an idea used frequently in advertising and photography, it’s best to use sable artist’s brushes, sponges, and airbrushing techniques. In fact, body painting is truly an art: it gives enormous potential for freedom of expression and imaginative use of different make-up techniques.
Take a look at the work of some of our students in the body painting section of the Delamar gallery.
Please be aware that whilst our courses will develop with changes to techniques and products in the industry. To see our our bodypainting courses please go to out Bodypainting and Airbrushing course page.