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A Model’s Guide to Body Painting

So you’ve been hired to work with a bodypaint artist, but you are wondering… how should I prepare? What should I expect? What should I bring?


Photo: Hoodlum Model: Miss Leila Bodypaint: BodyPainter Rich

Now, this will vary from artist to artist, but here are some general guidelines to go by:

  • Arrive well hydrated and well fed. If you starve yourself you won’t have enough energy to get through what will likely be a very long day; and if you are dehydrated you are likely to pass out or lose vital energy before you even hit the stage or shoot.
  • Avoid lotions, oils or any tanning products for a day or two before your shoot. These put a barrier on your skin that can really interfere with getting nice coverage.
  • No deodorant or anti-perspirant the day of the shoot. Bring some with you if you are concerned, but again this could create a coverage problem. Many pro painters have clear products that will work for you AND take makeup coverage.
  • Basically arrive with clean skin and hair. No makeup products unless otherwise directed. If you are doing a “glamour style” bodypaint that leaves your face exposed you should ask whether a Makeup Artist and/or hairstylist will be available. To be extra prepared, bring your own small kit if you have one.
  • Bring a nice LIGHT robe that fits loosely, for if you need to leave the painting area before your design is done.
  • An old and comfy pair of flip-flops will save your legs and feet if you need to stand while you are painted. Don’t bring anything that might be ruined if you get paint on them. Trust me on this one, you will thank me!
  • Bring hair rubber bands or other method to get your hair up and out of the way during the painting process.
  • Bringing your own flesh colored thong and/or pasties is a good idea, just in case modesty or legal issues come up.

Realize that good bodypainting is a very time consuming and tiring process. If you are posing in a large space or outside, you will likely get cold. The good thing is, you will be basking in the glow of all the attention!


Photo: Hoodlum

During the painting process there are a few things to remember:

  • Try to hold still, dancing and gesturing with your arms can make things difficult for your painter, even moving your head can affect the way your legs are painted.
  • DON’T LOCK YOUR KNEES. Standing rigidly is a great way to eventually pass out.
  • Let your painter know if you need a stretch or break. Very often we are concentrating on our work and we forget sometimes that there is another human involved who may be on a different schedule.
  • Also, let your painter know if anything they are doing is making you uncomfortable. They may or may not be aware, but if you feel that something inappropriate is going on, it is your right and responsibility to SPEAK UP!

So, finally you are finished and ready to go, there are a couple last things to make your experience better.

  • Bring some loose fitting old clothes to put on for your trip home. If no shower is provided you will want to protect your car seat with an old towel.
  • If you have some baby shampoo handy, this often works very well for removing water based makeup from your face and hair without irritating your skin and eyes.
  • If your painter used a long lasting temporary tattoo makeup, you will need to remove it using rubbing alcohol. Do this in a WELL VENTILATED AREA!
  • Keep some good hydrating lotion handy for afterwards, you’ll need it.
BodyPainter Rich

BodyPainter Rich

Rich has been making a living airbrushing and painting on people for 20 years. People wanting to learn more about airbrush, bodyart, and combining the two, are encouraged to check out his YouTube Channel or contact him about classes and seminars. www.secondskinimages.com/

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47 Responses to “A Model’s Guide to Body Painting”

  1. August 11, 2017 at 7:52 pm, Vik White said:

    How would I go about starting a career as a body painting model? I live in Ma and love art. I would love to be a part of the creative process, but am concerned about the meeting/application process between painter and model. I have posted ads on cl, and a few modeling sites but feel like they tend to be scams or flakes. I really want to start a career with this but don’t know any reliable outlets to start from. Any info from anyone would be really helpful.
    My email is: [email protected] if you could please help me in any way. Even if I start with volunteer work to get my name out there. Thanks for the great advice, and hope to hear from you or anyone either here or by email. 🤗

    Reply

  2. February 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm, Bryan Crump said:

    Great job on the article my friend. Also getting models to let artists know about their allergies. Most professionals will ask the models but it can never hurt for a person to be informed. We have had people using shoe polish, magic markers, highlighters, and automotive spraypaint, that’s one of the reasons I started teaching because people do some pretty crazy things without doing their research. Glad to see people in the community working to help inform others. Rich you always have done awesome work. Keep it up my friend.

    Reply

  3. May 21, 2014 at 1:39 pm, Melissa Boneau said:

    Great article! I’m planning to do my first bodypaint modeling soon. This will come in handy.

    Reply

  4. June 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm, Iain Sherwood said:

    Any advice on skin sensitivity? I recently did a shoot with full body paint, and the model experienced some irritation from the liquid makeup (Mehron), but only on her face. She removed the product from her face and used her own makeup…she had no problem with it anywhere else…ideas?

    Reply

    • October 04, 2014 at 9:44 am, Rich Diltz said:

      Faces are more sensitive than most other parts of the body. Always do a spot test when you first start by applying makeup to the inside of the wrist or the neck and wait a few minutes to determine if there is any reaction. Be ESPECIALLY careful if using liquid latex.

      Reply

  5. February 24, 2013 at 8:53 am, Sonia Mason said:

    Blimey!…I think i have been put off of wanting to be painted.

    Reply

  6. January 30, 2013 at 3:57 pm, Herblish said:

    This is very good info in general. I send models a checklist and guideline before I work with them so everything is in the clear. Pashur was my mentor so, I learned from one of the best.

    Reply

  7. January 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm, Sweet Loretta said:

    If I had a nickel for every model who arrived without a hairbrush or comb! So always bring basic hair kit is included in bringing a basic makeup kit – esp bring and know how to do a smokey eye and basic false eyelashes. Bring a basic pair of black or (plain) pumps. Bring some fluids and snacks. And do not bring your phone for texting during painting, bring it for music and emergencies only.

    Reply

  8. May 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm, Jess said:

    hey i am about to do a body painting shoot in the next week and the artist wants me to send her a bunch of nude pictures of me so she can start sketching what she wants to do. Is this necessary ?

    Reply

  9. January 12, 2012 at 6:38 am, TheArtofApril-Anna said:

    wow awesome article! I am a body painting but am not so good at articulating or remembering to mention everything that I ought to to my models before they come to work with me, which is a habit I need to change. I hope you don’t mind if I quote this article for sharing with my models in the future! Thanks so much for putting this together!

    Reply

    • January 12, 2012 at 7:11 am, Rich Diltz said:

      I don’t mind at all, I put the article here for a tool and hope that more models get referred to it. I hope it works well for you!

      Reply

  10. November 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm, Evil1winsagain said:

    I did a painted model party right before Halloween, the only thing that saved me was being very hidrated. It took maybe an hour to do all the suit but it seemed like forever. Turned out great, artist said it was because my skin was full of moisture. Getting the paint off was another story…lol 3 showers and I was still finding flames.

    Reply

  11. November 23, 2011 at 9:50 am, Chanelle05_habibi said:

    Wow i’d love to do some bodypaint modelling!

    Reply

  12. November 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm, Jason Moon said:

    Great article thanks! :)

    Reply

    • November 23, 2011 at 2:46 am, Rich Diltz said:

      You are welcome, glad it helps!

      Reply

  13. November 09, 2011 at 8:14 pm, sandie said:

    I have been painted by nick/ brian wolfe, FANTASTIC!
    mine washed of great (although i wanted to keep the brill work on me forever lol)
    I would say dont wear high shoes as standing for 6 hours made my back ache.

    hugs sandie. x

    Reply

    • November 23, 2011 at 2:47 am, Rich Diltz said:

      You are quite fortunate, the Wolfe’s are amazing painters. And yes, high heels are GREAT for presentation and HORRIBLE for getting painted in!

      Reply

  14. October 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm, Sharon Martin said:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have now had 3 successful body paintings, one of which was in front of a live audience as performance art and the tips you gave in here really came in handy. No one tells you what to do except “Show up with a nude colored thong” and reading all of this stuff beforehand has been so incredibly useful!

    Reply

    • October 31, 2011 at 3:23 am, Rich Diltz said:

      Sharon, so glad to be a help. You are exactly the sort of person I was hoping to help with this article. I see one of the bodypainting shots on your portfolio and it looks very nice. Thanks for the note!

      Reply

  15. October 05, 2011 at 12:01 pm, Faith enFire said:

    a very good article. people are picking the article apart but this is a great general reference piece.
    Always talk to the body painter about questions and concerns because they will all have their own preferences

    Reply

  16. October 01, 2011 at 4:14 pm, Keiragrant said:

    Great list of information. You may want to touch on not allowing amateur photographers to bodypaint you with acrylic paint. This kind of paint may be non-toxic, meaning it won’t kill you if a small amount is on your skin, but is still not intended to cover large portions of your body.

    Reply

    • October 01, 2011 at 9:04 pm, Rich Diltz said:

      That is a good point, but warrants a whole ‘nother article. I have the feeling you will be seeing an article on that from myself or one of our other experienced bodypainters before too long.

      Thanks!

      Reply

  17. October 01, 2011 at 3:43 am, LifeIsGreatImages said:

    Good suggestions!

    Reply

  18. October 01, 2011 at 3:19 am, Darla torres said:

    very interstin g i caould see mself having a blast with this…

    Reply

  19. September 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm, Enfirephoto said:

    thanks, Rich. I’ve done bodypainting modeling work before and this is all the advice that Kat and Mo gave me.

    Reply

  20. September 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm, Esther said:

    We have a really great make up contest ever your at CrypticonSeattle.com (a con near Seattle in May) —Its so cool to get to see so many people being done up all at once like on faceoff in person.

    Reply

  21. September 30, 2011 at 5:03 am, Alexander's Fine Art said:

    Fantastic info Rich. I am doing some more bodypaint shoots soon and will be directing the models to this post.

    Reply

    • September 30, 2011 at 5:14 am, Rich Diltz said:

      Glad to be of service!

      Reply

  22. September 30, 2011 at 4:41 am, Rich Diltz said:

    NOTE- I have had a couple folks ask about SHAVING. This is more important for sponge/brush application than it is for airbrush. Models are encouraged to ask their painters what is preferred. On some jobs it is important to have things one way or the other. On other jobs it really doesn’t matter.

    Ideally, you should shave the night before getting painted. You don’t want to be painted over an area suffering from razor burn, but you also don’t want too much stubble which may show more with the paint applied.

    Reply

  23. September 30, 2011 at 3:36 am, Cbarring350 said:

    This is good for certain situations, but probably should be replaced with a list of issues that must be addressed. You address them one way; I address them another, but everybody needs to address most of them, depending on what they do. I think the main thing is that you make it sound like the process is specifically a certain way. “Time consuming and tiring” does not apply to everyone’s process, for instance. The painter can provide hair rubber bands, right?

    Reply

    • September 30, 2011 at 3:50 am, Rich Diltz said:

      You make some valid points. This is a list I have created and run by some of my more experienced friends in the industry. Your mileage may vary.

      Certainly, the painter can provide a robe, or rubber bands (I keep some in my kit) and so forth….however, I am always very impressed and occasionally have reason to be very grateful if a model shows up completely prepared.

      And you are also correct, “time consuming and tiring” is not ALWAYS the case… but it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, no? I find that in the majority of my work that the models are completely worn out by the end of the project, but also quite pleased with the results. The more details, the more time.

      Reply

      • September 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm, Dave said:

        i agree with cbarring – i think it’d be more useful to say, “ask about deodorant, makeup products, thong/pasties, shaving, estimated time the painting/shooting will take, etc.”

        as opposed to giving your answers, the models should be directed to communicate with the people they’ll be working with.

        Reply

        • September 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm, Rich Diltz said:

          Just to be clear, from the article I said…

          “Now, this will VARY from artist to artist, but here are some GENERAL GUIDELINES to go by:”

          Deodorant, makeup, pasties can all be added on location, but taking them off in the average studio is more of a challenge. Better to show up without them, clean and ready to go.

          The whole point of this article is for there to be a place for some general guidelines that just about every bodypaint pro I know would recommend. Of course, you should communicate with the people you plan to work with. From the feedback I am receiving from industry professionals, many models will be referred to this article.

          Reply

          • January 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm, Kathy Jean said:

            Rich, this is just great!

    • October 01, 2011 at 10:15 pm, Justonetattoo said:

      I didn’t get the impression that Rich is saying it HAS to be “time consuming and tiring” but that it CAN sometimes be and you will do better to be prepared that it will be. If it’s not, it will be a piece of cake as long as you are prepared as you can be… I do tattoos for a living and am inspired to create a checklist of sorts in the same fashion, I don’t do fast and sloppy, people need to be prepared to sit for a long time. Lets see your work Cbarring350

      Reply

  24. September 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm, Painted Bodies said:

    Nice article Rich! I mention so many of these points in my pre-shoot prep email. Nobody ever understands how important the well fed and hydrated item is ~ as I can still recall (4) fainters over the past 6 years. Thanks, Jeff

    Reply

    • September 30, 2011 at 3:36 am, Rich Diltz said:

      I hear you Painted Bodies…it can be a real issue. I’m hoping that by linking to this article I can get some models to pay more attention to the seriousness of these details.

      Reply

  25. September 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm, Tycho Müller said:

    Nice info!
    Some more bodypainting pics: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150208035332875.311454.117376222874

    Reply

  26. September 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm, Lyndenstudios said:

    I like this,, it’s very informative! :)

    Reply

  27. September 29, 2011 at 10:19 pm, Melzn2art said:

    I have been a “Living artwork/statue” it is so much fun!

    Reply

  28. September 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm, Kimbutler said:

    excellent post! thanks. tis one of my favorite things to do…except all the shaving beforehand LOL.

    Reply

  29. September 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm, Madelyn Greco said:

    Well-covered. We do a similar FAQ for models on on our webpage – this would be a good reference resource for any bodypainter who doesn’t…

    Reply

  30. September 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm, Evarunway said:

    Thanks for that! I have my first bodypainting gig coming up and I am very excited!

    Reply

  31. September 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm, Pb_bunee420 said:

    they make pasties to cover “down-there” area? i really want to do a body paint shoot, but im still a little concerned with someone touching me there, even if its just a paint brush

    Reply

    • September 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm, Body Painter Rich said:

      My friend Pashur sells a form of “pasty” that covers the genitals and “butt crack” sort of like a long bandaid, but it only sticks to the skin in a couple areas. Frankly though….if you are not comfortable with your painter, that little strip of fabric won’t help much. That is one of the advantages to using airbrush….it’s still “up close and personal” but that area can be covered easily without touching. You will find that most pro painters will do what they need to get a quick coat of dark makeup “down there” so that the flesh doesn’t show, but most designs do not require much detail around the genitals.

      Reply

    • September 30, 2011 at 4:14 am, JamesCameraWorks said:

      They are for sale. Silly Farm Supplies sells a cover for both males and females that acts like a pasty for the genital area. It is in the body painting section.

      Reply

      • September 30, 2011 at 4:38 am, Rich Diltz said:

        I think you are referring to the “ProShields” which are another product for the same purpose. The product Pashur sells is simpler to use and less obvious. We actually used them on a recent project for the Charlie Sheen Roast on 10 different statue models.

        Reply

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