I had a day off work before I headed out to a festival and what better way to spend a day than painting your entire body right?
I learnt quite a few things while doing this body paint so hopefully some of you will find this useful and avoid some of the incredibly time consuming mistakes I made.
1. Biros and Sharpies aren’t necessarily your friend
Because the design is so intricate and I was struggling to get the symmetry I wanted I decided to draw the entire thing on myself in sharpie and biro. What I didn’t realise was that once I put the white body paint on the pen would bleed through it which meant I had to keep layering on the white which ultimately meant the paint was so thick that it kept cracking and flaking off. Adding all those extra layers added a serious amount of time to the paint job.
On top of that, biro and sharpie are really hard to wash off! I scrubbed myself raw and my skin was still stained from it.
2. However long you think it will take, double it
I thought that this would take a few hours tops, but once the pen problem struck it turned into a whole day of work. Luckily I had the day off so I just cancelled all my other plans to get it finished.
3. Test before you start
Originally I wanted this to be black and gold, we just decided to shoot it in black and white as it looked so cool which turned out to be really lucky. The gold (Mehron Metallic Gold + Mixing Liquid) wouldn’t go over the white, instead it just blended into the white meaning it lost all of its sparkle and impact. I had thought it would make the gold really pop as with other body paints adding a layer of white underneath makes them stand out a lot more. It was pretty disappointing to not be able to get the gold on, especially considering the white took so long to do. I found that the gold went over the black just fine, there was no bleed and it looked really effective so I could have skipped the white altogether and just gone with the gold.
Whatever supplies you need make sure you’ve got them (and not just paint!). When you’re covered in paint and the nearest shop is twenty minutes walk in the sun you’re probably not going to do it and instead end up texting people to see if they’ll bring you things. I ran out of milk halfway through
5. Photo setup
Make sure you have you’re little shooting area set up and you know how to use the equipment. This is the first time I’ve tried to do the whole artsy picture thing, normally I just take some selfies with my phone. I used a big black piece of material that’s basically hung over a door, and a camera on a tripod. My friend lent me a remote flash, and I constructed a couple of soft boxes but we ended up not using them as the soft boxes lights were too yellow, and we just couldn’t figure out how to work the remote flash.
Anyway, at 5am when I woke Voldy up to take some pictures it was a nightmare trying to find and hangup the material and set up the camera, then spending an hour trying to google how to work the flash all whilst covered head to toe in body paint.
Sometimes in the middle of a piece I consider starting over, sometimes things just aren’t coming together, sometimes things are going wrong (bloody biros!) and sometimes the right thing to do is to wash it all off and start over, other times it’s better to keep on going and see how it comes out. I’m really glad I kept on going despite the problems that cropped up. I will most likely recreate the look with gold so that I can see it as I had intended it to be, I will probably skip the whole drawing with a biro thing though.
7. Test Shoot
Before I did this body paint I spoke to a photographer friend of mine to see how it would look on camera. The original plan was to do a really intricate henna style design but he warned me that it would most likely lose most of the impact in a photo as it was full body so you wouldn’t be able to see the designs clearly. I ended up doing a test shoot where I painted my foot to try and get an idea of how it would look in a photo.
Because of that I ended up changing the design to not be as small and detailed, looking at the final photos I think I could have got away with putting in more detail in some places but the henna idea wouldn’t have worked (unless I was a super skilled photographer which I’m sadly not).
8. Work out your order
This might sound silly, but there is an order to paint in. Hands are obviously the last thing you want to paint as you’re using them so much, your face is a second because once your face is done it’s hard to eat or drink. For this I started at the feet and worked my way up, leaving my hands to last. On each part you paint you’ll want to start at the place you are least likely to smudge, so because I’m right handed I start on the left side of my leg for example and work around to the right. This is going to reduce the amount of times you accidentally smudge what you’ve already done.