This is my last post on my series of how I made the female Witch Doctor Costume, and Mario is working on writing up his posts now so you should see them soon.
To find the perfect shades for our body paint, we went to San Francisco (which is just over an hour away) and, of course with our trusty iPhones out with the pictures loaded up, compared swatch after swatch of paint to what was in the picture. Mario’s turned out to be a mix of two grays: 501 and FF7. Mine was a red/brown called 046. It was easier to order these by calling Kryolan, because I couldn’t find one of the shades anywhere online. If you don’t have a store around you that allows you to swatch the colors for your body paint, then make sure to look online for pictures and videos of swatches that others have done, to see how the shade looks on different skin types, and how it photographs.
To make it easier to mix Mario’s colors, we pried them out of the plastic container they were in (it was pretty easy, just be gentle so you don’t break the cake) and cut them in half, then put one half of each color back into each container.
Here’s a test we did on Mario to see how long it took us to paint his chest and part of his arms. I did a test with a paint brush and a makeup sponge. Some people prefer using a makeup sponge, but I’ve always found that I can get the job done more quickly and with a more even layer if I use a wide nylon brush. You can find some cheap packs of different sizes at a craft store, and you’d use most of them for the application.
Another test we did to see how long it’d take to get his arm/hand painted. Always to make sure to do a full trial test of your body paint before the convention so you know how long you need to give yourself to get ready. We did a photoshoot before the convention in our costumes (so that we could make business cards, also a good idea if you want to meet people and make friends) and it really helped us determine how long it would take us to get ready on the big day. (About 4 and a half hours, if you’re interested.)
There are several good brands for body paint makeup, and it all depends on the shade you need. Mehron, Ben Nye, and Kryolan are all high quality stage makeup brands. Once you find the shade you want, always make sure to shop around for the best price.
Here is what I suggest if you’re looking into doing full body paint:
1. Make sure your skin is clean and free of oils. If it’s not, the paint won’t stick as well.
2. If it’s hot outside and you’re likely to sweat, use something like Mehron’s No Sweat Skin Prep before you put on any makeup. It will help you to not sweat, and keep your makeup lasting longer. If you don’t think it’s likely you will sweat, still prep your skin with a primer, like Mehron’s Velvet Finish Primer (ladies, this primer is also good for day to day makeup). Either way, make sure to prime your skin, and the paint will last all day.
3. Use a spray bottle filled with water to get your water activated makeup wet. You want it to be wet enough to mix the water in with the paint using your brush, making the paint creamy and paintable, but not so wet that it’s watery and doesn’t make a good paint. You want the thickness of acrylic paint, not watercolor.
4. Start painting the area that needs to be painted. Make long, even strokes, and don’t worry if it’s blotchy with the first coat- that’s what the second coat is for.
5. Once the entire area has one coat, let it dry, and LIGHTLY MIST the entire painted area with Mehron Barrier Spray. This will help each layer stick and last all day.
6. Go over the painted area with a second coat. If it’s already pretty even, with just a few spots here and there that need more paint, then just go over those areas.
7. You may have to repeat 4 and 5 until every area is completely covered and even. Sometimes it just takes 2 coats, sometimes you have to do areas a few different times to make sure it’s all even.
8. Put on a final layer of Barrier Spray, and make sure that you don’t touch anything until your paint is completely dry.
9. You’re done! Avoid getting wet, obviously, this is a water activated makeup and it will run. You may get paint rubbing off on your collar, a weapon if you’re holding one, etc, but as far as I’ve been able to tell, this is unavoidable. If there is a costume contest you’re entering later in the day, you may want to go and touch up- I only had to touch up a tiny bit on my hands last year, after 8 hours of wear.
10. IF you’ve painted on your face completely, I do suggest doing some contouring so that your skin color won’t be quite flat. Just use an eyeshadow in a darker shade than your body paint, and here is a good contouring tutorial.
(Edited to add how to remove the paint!)
11. When you’re finished with your costume and ready to remove the paint, make sure to have a good makeup remover (I recommend Kryolan’s Hydro Makeup Remover Oil), a loofa, and lots of body wash. I had to use Mario’s manly body wash because the girly stuff I had just wasn’t cutting through the soap. You massage the makeup remover into your skin, jump into the shower, and it should easily come off.
Also, if you’re going to have designs on your skin, like I did with the white designs on my witch doctor, I suggest first tracing them out with an eyeliner pencil in whatever color they’re going to be filled in (or white), and paint around them, since it is hard to paint body paint on top of another without mixing it, unless it’s much darker, like a black. After you have the outside color all filled in, then carefully work on the color inside the lines for the designs.
I used these methods for my Draenei costume in Blizzcon 2009, as well.
Have you ever had to do body painting for a costume? How did it go?