Spider-Woman

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This past February my buddy Katya Estes and I went to an art and fashion show. She is a model but neither of us were there to work the show. We were there just to have a good time and a good time we had. The drinks were overpriced but our tickets were free so we felt that offset our cost enough to get a decent buzz. The trouble is that Katya is an amazing model and when one of the designers found out she was there they wanted her to walk in the show. Mind you this was after both of us already had several drinks. The other problem was all of the makeup artists were all done doing makeup and wanted to enjoy the show themselves. A makeup artist by the name of Kayla Maxey let me work out of her kit. At the time the makeup looked good to me but I was more than a few drinks in. Looking at the photos the next day I was a bit embarrassed. Luckily Katya can make anything look good.

There are very few people I would let work out of my makeup kit, especially unsupervised so I was very appreciative to Kayla and we have kept in touch. It turns out Kayla is also a model. After seeing some of her work I asked if she would ever be interested in body paint. It’s always a strange question to ask someone but she seemed to be excited about the idea. All I had to do then was figure out what to paint. I really enjoyed doing my Spider-Gwen, and Venom body paints so sticking to the Spider-Verse seemed the way to go.

Spider-Gwen:  Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley  Model: Melanie Smith  Wig: Matthew Tyldsley    Venom:  Photo: Danny Alexander  Model: Rebecca Rhodes

Spider-Gwen:

Photo: Alexandra Lee Brumley

Model: Melanie Smith

Wig: Matthew Tyldsley

Venom:

Photo: Danny Alexander

Model: Rebecca Rhodes

I knew I didn’t want to do the traditional Spider-Man suit or and of it's derivatives. Spider-Girl's suit is way to similar to the red and blue webbed Peter Parker Spidey suit. Turns out there are a lot of characters in the Spider-Verse but the one I kept going back to was Spider-Woman. Her suit is bold in color with its Red and Yellow/Gold color scheme. The over all design however was a bit simplistic which is why I couldn’t settle on it. The comic book design just looked too easy and flat which felt pointless to do as a body paint. It looks good in the comics but as a body paint it did nothing for me.

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Then it struck me how Miguel Mercado ( @merkymerx on Instagram ) did the Spider-Gwen suit design I ended up painting. He is amazing and I love his work and how he reimagines the characters. Not to mention he’s just an amazing artist. If Norman Rockwell painted comic book characters they would look like Miguel Mercado’s work. After looking through his work I didn’t see a Spider-Woman suit. I sent him a message asking if maybe I over looked it. He sent me a design that I hadn’t seen anywhere else and it was badass! I showed it to Kayla and she agreed.

Miguel Mercado’s Design

Miguel Mercado’s Design

In the original design she wears a mask that only covers her eyes and forehead. The mask has the traditional Spider suit eyes with the addition of a triangle in between them. Miguel’s design had her in Aviator Goggles which made sense seeing as how she’s not a webslinger. She actually has flaps under her arms she uses to glide or fly. I looked all over for goggles to see if there was a way I could modify them. Everything I was finding looked a bit too steam punk. I decided I would paint the triangle on her forehead and do a beauty makeup on her eyes that brought in colors of the suit.

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As I said before Spider-Woman has underarm flaps. I tried to think of ways to do it but they would only look good with her arms outstretched otherwise I couldn’t think of a way to not make it not look sloppy in other poses. Instead of painting the yellow portions of the suit yellow I decided to go with a very yellow gold to stay away from the green undertones of most gold but also not use rose gold which wouldn’t contrast as strongly against the red. I was then able to high light and low light the gold to make it look raised a bit.

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There were a lot of linear panels on the suit which were fun to work out in different shades of red. I then went in and added some high lights to give the high points a bit of a shine. No super suit would be complete without some texturing either. Using my favorite hexagon stencil I popped in some mesh texturing. When I finished the body paint I gave Kayla’s body a light dusting of gold shimmer powder to bring it all together. Miguel’s design even had some pink trim to really make things pop. Given the symmetry super suits have they are always fun to paint and look great if you can get it right. I was really happy with how this one turned out. Danny Alexander did an amazing job as usual capturing the body paint just right. As I said before, Spider-Woman doesn’t shoot webs but she actually shoots these green blasts from her hands which Danny actually added in post. Danny always makes me look good and I couldn’t be happier with how they came out!

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Venomiss

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As a kid I was always a big Spider-Man fan. When Spider-Man switched to the black suit I didn’t know why because I hadn’t read Secret Wars. I liked comic books but I never really read them in order. I just knew I thought it looked cool and I was not happy when he had to get rid of it. As it turned out the black suit was an alien symbiote that would take over its host. That being said it gave birth to a whole new character. Venom was pretty much a huge hulking evil Spider-Man whose Alter Ego Eddie Brock hated Peter Parker and Spider-Man. The stories where they were fighting with each other were some of my favorites. I really enjoyed when they teamed up together to fight Carnage which was an even more evil version of Venom.

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

My friend Rebecca and I went to see Infinity War together for my second time and we were excited to see a Venom trailer. Having body painted Rebecca before she commented that Venom would be cool to paint. She was right but I had seen it done so many times before. I feel like it’s almost a rite of passage as a body painter having admired the body paints years before I even thought about body painting. I have seen some really good Venom body paints and some really bad ones. I think my main concern with doing the body paint was landing in the second category. I never shy away from a challenge so I started planning.

Rebecca said, “I have always loved spider-man. From a very young age I thought Toby Maguire was the end all be all and wished I could be in Mary Jane’s shoes. However, Venom has always been one of my favorite Marvel villains. The visual of the symbiote covering Eddie Brock’s body is harrowing and terrifying but it was so cool I couldn’t not watch it every time I saw it. So when Matt and I went to see Infinity War and we saw the preview for the new Venom movie it was like a part of my childhood was coming to the forefront again. I turned to Matt and said “I wanna do that. Lets body paint Venom.” He agreed and I was pumped.” 

Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics

First thing I did was ask Danny Alexander if he would be willing to photograph it. Lucky for me he is a nerd too and I think was excited to shoot a Venom body paint. With the team in place I started planning in my head. Venom is a pretty well-known character so I wanted to stay true to the original design. I knew with all of Rebecca’s thick hair I didn’t want to mess with a bald cap. I thought we could go for a concept where the Venom symbiote was taking over. Doing this I could leave areas of open skin and add more detailing and interest as the black paint appeared to stretched across bare skin.


Rebecca showed up early the morning of the photo-shoot so that we could get started. I had gotten some Monster Pasties for her to wear to give the black a really smooth super suit look. Monster Pasties are great because not only are they made for body paint but they go on very easy. Rebecca was in the bathroom for way longer than it takes to apply the pasties. When I went to check on her I could see the panic in her face. The way you apply the Monster Pasties is kind of like a temporary tattoo. You peel off the plastic, place the center of the pasty over the nipple while pressing firmly making sure all of the edges are down while dabbing a damp wash cloth to release the pasty from the paper. Just like a temporary tattoo if you try to apply it without removing the plastic, you ruin it. Unfortunately this is what Rebecca had done. Knowing we didn’t have a backup pair we just sat there saying curse words under our breath until she just said we would have to go without. Knowing that Danny was coming and the only other option was to cancel we decided to move forward and start painting.

Rebecca said, The day finally came and I pulled myself out of bed at 8:30 on a Sunday morning in order to get painting in time for some events both Matt and I had later on in the day. Once I got to Matt’s place I got ready and prepped for the paint and one of the main steps in prepping for body paint is putting on the pasties. However, me not being fully awake yet I managed to royally screw up one of the pasties. I felt awful and I knew there was no way I could postpone the makeup and shoot because all of us were just too excited. So I got over myself and went fully topless.” 

Behind the Scenes Selfie

Behind the Scenes Selfie

I knew I just had to position everything so that black paint ended up over her nipples which would make them easier for Danny to edit out in post. The first thing I started painting was the gapping mouth Venom is known for. Not only did I know that would be the most difficult part but I knew it would be the center piece as it goes from just under her nose down to her chest with the tongue snaking around her shoulder. Once the mouth was done sans the black I started making out where the open skin sections would be which would let me know how much of the white spider on the chest was needed. I then airbrushed in a brown drop shadow where the black paint/symbiote would meet the skin. Positioning the legs of the spider was easier than expected. It made sense to keep them on the breast for fear of losing the proper shape and flow if I went below the breast. I placed Venom’s eye around Rebecca’s eye instead of over it. No matter how much paint I used Rebecca’s dark eyelash would have still be been visible in Venom’s solid white eye, while painting black over her eye would make it pretty much disappear.

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Once I got all the white painted on the black was smooth sailing. After doing a couple layers of black for a good overall coverage I started to streak the black over the bare skin to make it look like the symbiote was trying to close the holes over the bare skin. Except for the drop shadow I had hand painted everything up until this point. I broke out my airbrush to do some highlights and low lights. I wanted to add some stretching over the bare skin parts and detailed the edges. Using grey, white, and light blue airbrush paint I went in and highlighted and detailed to give the solid black areas a little more depth. I also airbrushed some black to get rid of the harsh line where the tongue disappeared into the throat.

Rebecca said, “3 hours later I was painted and Danny arrived and we started shooting. The paint looked so amazing and I felt like such a bad-ass all thanks to Matt and Danny”

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The way Danny lit the photos really brought everything to life. Danny also brought an apple box. I didn’t know what he had in mind for it but I was still painting when he showed up so I didn’t question it. When he felt we had a good static shot of the body paint we moved to the apple box. He had Rebecca crouch on the box so he could shoot from slightly below her. Posing for body paint is vulnerable enough so I give props to Rebecca because without hesitation she was able to nail the pose which I knew couldn’t have been comfortable in only a thong. Danny wanted an image he could composite to make it look like she was perched on a rooftop. When I saw the image for the first time it looked like to was ripped from the pages of the comic book

Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca and I with Poe the Kitten

Rebecca said, I don’t consider myself a model but this has got to be my favorite shoot I’ve ever done. I truly appreciate Matt and all his hard work and I thank Danny Alexander so much for helping us create such a cool concept. He also did wonders with helping me to pose and show off the paint in the best way possible. I’m extremely grateful to be a part of this team and I can’t wait to do more body paint modeling in the future.” 

 

Like I said before, I have seen Venom body paints done so many times before. I am not going to say the one I did is one of the best, not by a long shot. That said I am very happy with the paint I was able to do. Danny and Rebecca really made me look like I knew what I was doing. When it comes to body paints I definitely like creating my own thing and doing something that no one has seen before. That said this is my third comic book character body paint and I really love bringing these heroes and villains to life.

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