Bodies in Color, #4: Mystique

May 26, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

A couple weekends ago, I met up with a friend of mine to do a bodypainting shoot. I had previously shot photos of her Emma Frost cosplay, so we decided to keep with an X-Men theme for this shoot as well and do Mystique.

As usual, I used liquid Mehron paint cut with barrier spray so it could pass through an airbrush. Unfortunately, the last time I did an airbrush shoot, back in March for "Orion Boudoir", it took a long time-- four hours for a simple solid-color bodypaint, which felt way too long for airbrushing. So prior to painting Mystique, I broke out my older single-action Paasche airbrush, and managed to get it working again. I noticed that even with my air pump working at the same PSI, the air pressure from the Paasche single-action felt much stronger than the airbrush from my newer Iwata double-action, which I've been using for the past year or so.

Testing with paint seemed to confirm that the Paasche would be better for full-body shoots. I'd never done a side-by-side comparison of the two, but until now, I'd always made the assumption that they were roughly equivalent, in terms of flow... but apparently not. So I packed up both airbrushes-- the single-action Paasche for the full-body coverage, and the double-action Iwata for the finer detail work that I wanted to do with stencils.

My plan was to do a hybrid of the comic book and movie versions of Mystique; I wasn't going to do any latex or prosthetics to mimic the movie, but I did want to try to emulate some of Movie Mystique's skin texture with paint.

Unfortunately, despite all my testing, the bodypaint still took about four hours, even with the Paasche. Moreover, the makeup began to wear away pretty quickly after it was applied, even when using barrier spray as a final topcoat-- that was disappointing. (I had that problem a bit with the Orion shoot, too, and also with the Leopard shoot, though to a much smaller degree.)

I find myself wondering how some cosplayers manage to get their bodypaint to stay on through a whole day of con. I suspect part of it may be by using different bodypaint. I've considered Ben Nye and Mehron to be roughly equivalent brands, but I may try Ben Nye again. I'd also like to do more with Kryolan, though it's a bit more expensive. Unfortunately, with both Ben Nye and Kryolan I have to order them over the Internet, whereas there are a couple of local costume stores that carry Mehron.

But enough with the negative parts of the shoot-- all in all, I'm happy with how the photos came out. The stencils worked better than I expected-- by holding them an inch or two over the skin, I was able to get a fuzzier, more organic look than something with crisp, exact lines, and by flipping the stencils around in various ways, I was able to get a wide variety of patterns. I do wish we'd used a slightly darker color on her lips, but I was able to tweak that a bit in Photoshop.

Speaking of Photoshop... in the process of editing these photos, I was also teaching myself how to use it. in the past, I've used GIMP and other open-source alternatives, but now I've switched to Adobe Creative Cloud, and gotten Photoshop along with an upgraded Lightroom. I'm glad I did, and I'm pleased with the results I was able to obtain. I'm looking forward to experimenting with it more in the future.

You can see all the photos of Mystique below-- insert usual obvious warning here about nudity, etc. And many thanks to Julia for being a patient and tolerant model over the course of the five-hour shoot.


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