Planning Body Painting: Body Charts

Have you ever had to plan body art? Its like the wild cousin of face charts, really. I can honestly say that I can't recall ever seeing another body painter's charts. I'm sure some wing it. I definitely did for the first two years of my career! Eventually, I felt it was wiser to adopt some form of planning.

Planning is particularly helpful when you're convincing photographers and models to jump in on an idea. I have a hell of time trying to put what I see in my mind's eye into words anyway.

Once in a while (I think this happens to all artists) I have super creative days. I wake up with an idea or become hyper inspired. I'll just belt out concept sketches. Hey, it can't be helped. :P

You'll notice there's an absence of color in all of my little blueprints.

I really don't feel comfortable planning colors before I see the model or the backdrop. I usually have a good idea of the mood I'm going for. Take the sketch above, for instance. I knew I wanted the contrast of blues and purples with oranges and yellows. In my mind, I saw this with much stronger purple tones. As with every design, the concept evolves as it is applied to the model and with the input of the photographer.

From Paper to Person

The image below, titled "The Big Reveal" from conception, sat in my sketchbook for a year before the right opportunity presented itself. I can't imagine shooting this with a different team! I had no idea what color I wanted the covering fabric to appear. I began the painting with the marble texture while the photographer rummaged through props and boxes. He returned with a large burgundy-ish sheet that was almost identical to one of my paints. The images featuring the sheet prop didn't make the cut but the inspiration left it's mark.

Alice in Wonderland, here, was a request. The photographer trusted me to the point of saying, "I've got an idea, Alice in Wonderland." I asked if he was looking for a Cheshire Cat or Mad Hatter. He said, simply, "Nah, Just run with it." Well, ok then!

Flight of the Fish went through three drafts before I FINALLY got it going in the right direction. I had the concept very early on but I struggled to find the right style that could pull it off. After sifting through some popular tattoo magazines, I regained my footing.

I'm not 100% sure where the inspiration for this one started. I remember sitting in our local comic book store on a cold and dreary winter day. I started with the flower in the center and it took on a life of its own.

The Template

I keep a folder of inspirational images on my desktop and I drag'n'drop like a mad woman! 
Everything inspirational, including poses. Belly dancers, high fashion models, yoga instructors- I'm such a creeper. Maxim, Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition, Muscle & Fitness, and junk mail catalogs are also healthy sources for posing inspiration. 

When I find an image I love, I just sketch it into my book and build. If I need multiples of the template, I simply trace over my new original with a sharpie. You can see some quick sharpie action on Flight of the Fish, since I had to redraw it several times.

UPDATE: Free Printable Body Painting Template

File is 8.5 x 11 WITH Bleed, so she should print perfect every time. Her orientation is 3 Ring Binder friendly. ;) I gotchu. More free body templates here.

UPDATE #2: Free Curvy Body Painting Templates and Other Bundles

Latest free body templates and links for males and maternity packs available in this blog post.

If you think this is interesting...

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  1. Replies
    1. Glad you liked it. :)
      I've been following your latest work on DeviantART! Good stuff!

  2. So, it was easy to apply the paint I used, it dried fairly quickly, didn't crack or clump and washed off easily. It definitely exceeded my expectations.
    liquid latex


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