Body Paint 101 Panel, as given at SacAnime Winter 2016

Body paint has increasingly become an integral part of the cosplay scene, but with the many types of paint on the market, how does a cosplayer choose? And what does “seal your paint” actually mean? This panel will give an overview of the most common types of body paint, application methods, and sealing methods, along with addressing typical problems and pitfalls.

This is just the bare bones of the panel, as many of the examples were elaborated on in-person. It is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive, and is just meant for general advice and suggestion purposes only. If anyone has feedback they would like to give, feel free to do so. That said, I hope that people find this information useful.

I apologize for the photo layout here being a bit janky. I had an odd number of slides in the beginning and no real way to combine them into something readable, so the breakdown by twos splits up the info and pro/con slides for each type of paint. :| Sorry

I was very close to putting alcohol-activated paint in this panel, but I decided that I wouldn’t have time to cover it in an hour-long panel and it’s a little more advanced. (It comes in liquid form that can be airbrushed on or solid/cake form, and is activated by a special alcohol-based activator, and removed with a special alcohol-based remover. Cake form can be somewhat translucent. It is fully waterproof. Don’t use it near mucous membranes. The alcohol can be a bit harsh and drying. There’s the basics, for those curious.) 

I feel like these three types are more likely to be used by the average beginner. I also didn’t cover airbrushing (and there are a lot of types of paint that can be airbrushed, depending on the formula) because again, this is a 101 panel and that’s more advanced, though I do make mention of it. Maybe someday I’ll own an airbrush and be able to do an Airburshing Body Paint panel. ;]

Note on PAX: I know a lot of people swear by it, but the safety concerns should not be overlooked. DO NOT USE. It is not safe for use on skin.

I’m also personally biased against Snazaroo because it’s a lower quality of paint and tends to crack and flake easier than other types, but it’s a popular one so I included it because a lot of people use it and need to have the correct application/sealing information for it.

Two more general notes that didn’t make it into the Powerpoint:
Shave before doing this. Light body hair might be okay with something like water-activated paint, but shave just in case. You want the paint to stick to your skin, not hair.
For some reason, Wolfe brand paints are not compatible with Ben Nye brand products, such as Final Seal. They will turn pink. Keep these separate.

Here is a link to a pdf of the presentation. You may download for personal use, but please do not alter the presentation, repost without permission, or do any sort of other unauthorized use. (If you have a question about how you can use this presentation, please send me a message with your question and we can work it out. I promise I’m not scary. ;]) Feel free to reblog this post as much as you want, though. I do these panels and post them because I want the information to be shared.

I hope someone finds this helpful! :]


“In some ways, artist Alexa Meade is a traditional figure painter. But she works on an unusual canvas: the actual human body. And she takes a classical concept — trompe l'oeil, the art of making a two-dimensional representation look three-dimensional — and turns it on its head. Her aim is to do the opposite, to collapse depth and make her living models into flat pictures.”

-PBS NewsHour

If these paintings will seem normal to you, watch them better. Yep. You could try to guess what makes these images so extraordinary, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be wrong. At first look, you might think that the style Alexa Meade, artist from Los Angeles, (brushstrokes thick and heavy, intense colors, lights and shadows exaggerated) is quite simple, even traditional. 

But only until you realize that his painting breathes for real! Yes, Alexa Meade literally paints people ! 

The artist uses acrylic paints on human skin and creates his works of body art in such a way that the subject is two-dimensional, flat images against a background expressionist. 

Impressive, amazing and astonishing. I love her works! Totally!!