Silver Body Painting

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In one of the Fantastic Four movies, there is a character by the name of Silver Surfer who appears to be made of solid metal, or silver to be more precise.

Looking at someone completely painted in a solid silver color is not only a striking image but can be very useful to use as a photographic project.

The Silver Surfer is a Marvel Comics superhero created by Jack Kirby. The character first appears in Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966), the first of a three-issue arc that fans call "The Galactus Trilogy". Wikipedia

A photo featuring people painted in silver from head to toe is also very unusual but can be a fun project at the same time. Since painting someone is basically all you need, the project is rather easy, although you need to take some things into consideration such as whether or not the model will be nude or wearing clothing.

However if they are to be photographed while wearing clothes, then the project has to be approached a little differently as opposed to the intended original theme. For one thing the original theme which is to paint a person totally in silver is intended to use with nude models, although posed in such a way so as to not to reveal more intimate body parts.

Using clothing makes the project appear to be more gimmicky. If you absolutely need to cover some body parts then use a very tight fitting nylon brief and bra and paint them in the same silver color too as that used on the model. Some skin tight full body suits are ideal and take paint well, but their downside is that they can be quite expensive.

You are basically making a human statute and the silver color makes them appear somewhat surreal. This concept in not new however. If you have been to some European countries and some carnivals you have probably seen street performers standing very still for long periods of time as if they were real statues.

You can get creative and use other metallic colors as well such as gold, but because of the time that is takes to prepare the setup, for the paint to dry and the cost associated with hiring a body paint artist, I suggest that you do one color at a time and on different days.

One of the best set ups is to pose your model on a dark studio and against a black backdrop. Illuminate your model with single photo lamp, preferably a snoot and use some sort of diffusing element in front of the lamp to avoid creating harsh shadows and limit the reflections. Carefully arrange your photo lamp to be angled so that you can bring out the shapes and texture highlights. Since this will be done using one single color you risk creating a monochromatic effect if texture and other details are foreshadowed by too much or too strong an illumination.

If you will use reflectors, remember that gold highlights skin tones and silver adds more light. Best to practice using both and judge the effects in post production.

Aim to pose your models as if they were imitating real statue like poses perhaps even some classical ones like those found in the Greek and Roman periods. Use props sparingly but only if they add to the scene such as some crowns or reefs made from "olive leaves", spears, swords and so on.

Although anything painted in gold or silver actually looks good when photographed the theme requires minimal use of any other elements other than the model itself. Your best bet is to research some samples of ancient marble and precious metal work and follow their lead and the same can be done if your theme will be more of a modern style like Art Nouveau.

"The name "Art Nouveau" is French for "new art". It is known also as Modernisme in Catalonia (Spain), A reaction to academic art of the 19th century, it was inspired by natural forms and structures, not only in flowers and plants but also in curved lines." Wikipedia

Contemporary styles of statue making and posing are probably better to apply to this style. You can also just forget about styles completely and concentrate on techniques and posing guides used in nude photography which seems to be what is most popular with this body painting technique.

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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