There are a dozen different techniques for bodypainting, and dozens of brands of paint to consider. All these choices sometimes make it confusing to know where to begin. And each character has its own unique hurdles to overcome.
Rather than try to write an all-encompassing “Guide to Bodypaint” let’s start by talking about a specific character: Ahsoka Tano. In this guide, we will go over just one of many methods you could use to turn into your favorite orange alien. I’m personally a big fan of this method, and all the photos you see here were done using these techniques.
No two people are the same, and no two people’s skin reacts to paint the same way! While these techniques and brands work great for me, I have had friends inform me they are not as big a fan. Your Mileage May Vary.
My best recommendation is to do some trials first – buy a small amount of paint to test with and see if you like it, before committing to a larger purchase.
Before we dive in, let’s look at what we need to accomplish to become Ahsoka:
- A reddish-orange skin color
- White markings
- No eyebrows
- A headpiece (Also known as Montrals or Lekku)
And of course, a costume. But that’s another guide for another day!
So how do we get these figured out? Well, you need to consider two things: what paint will you need, and how should you apply it? So, without further adieu, let’s get started.
Bodypaints to Buy
There are two main colors to consider with Ahsoka: the orange and the white. Each has some specific & unique things they need to accomplish. The orange needs to cover a lot of area (Face, neck, upper arms) and look really smooth. The white has to be easy to apply for sharp lines, while being opaque enough to not show the orange underneath. Depending on which cosplayer you ask, there are a number of ways to do this, but for now we’ll just stick to my favorite:
For the orange, there are two colors to look at:
Either can be used for Ahsoka, depending on which you prefer. I personally stick with just Orange. The official Disneyland costume appears to use something closer to Coral Adjuster. You might get good results by mixing the two and getting something in between.
For the white paint:
Wolfe is one of the best water-based paints I’ve used. It can be found in most local costume shops, or online. It comes in a little makeup kit – just a small square of paint that you use water to activate.
How to Apply the Paint
Temptu is an alcohol-based paint. This means it’s semi translucent, which means it is best applied with an airbrush. Make sure to apply regular foundation to your face (preferably something not oily) because any blemishes will show through the paint.
From there, mix your paint and apply using an airbrush. You’re going to do this in three steps:
- Cover all the areas (face, arms, neck, etc.) with a super light layer of your orange.
- It should looklike you maybe have a bad spray tan, not orange skin. Let that dry before you continue (should only take a couple minutes. Temptu dries quickly)
- Apply a second layer, this time heavier.
- This is the bulk of the work, by the time you are done with this layer, your skin should be “Ahsoka Orange”.
- It will also take a couple minutes to dry. It’s a bit sticky in this stage, be careful not to let the paint touch anything.
- The third layer isn’t really a layer per se… it’s more for touch ups. Inspect your paint closely and touch up any areas that are a bit too light.
- Once the painting is done, get out the baby powder (or talcum powder) and dust yourself heavily to ensure you are not sticky all day. This prevents the paint from peeling off because it stuck to something else.
- You will look very splotchy at first – orange with all these white splotches. That is perfectly normal – within about half an hour all the excess baby powder will fall off and you will have a consistent looking orange color that isn’t sticky.
Don’t worry too much about being super perfect with your color. A lot of people ask me how I get my color so even… the truth is I don’t! The human body is all kinds of different colors. Some places your skin is more yellow, or more red… if your paint is too perfect you stop looking like a real person, so embrace those little variations. As long as you get it MOSTLY even it will look fantastic.
For the white markings, we’ll be using the Wolfe water-based pat. Instead of using the airbrush, we’re going to go with a regular paint brush. (Preferably a square tipped one for clean edges)
- Use a couple drops of water to activate the paint. Don’t use too much or the paint will become too thin and you won’t be able to get a nice, solid white color.
- Dab the brush into the paint, making sure to grab plenty of color and not as much water. You’ll need to come back for more paint pretty frequently.
- Trace the outlines of the markings first.
- Start with the inside first and work yourway out. That way you can make sure the forehead, etc. are symmetrical before you get to far
- Fill in the outline until it’s solid. If you find too much orange is showing underneath, let it dry before applying another layer. Use even less water, so you don’t accidentally activate the paint already on your face.
Concealing Your Eyebrows
If you want my personal opinion, this step is optional. I don’t do it, and I think my Ahsoka looks just fine with eyebrows. That’s just my personal preference though, so we’re gonna cover them here in case you want to get rid of yours.
There’s two options here. You can cover them up, or you can just shave them off. I’m serious! There are plenty of people who shave off their eyebrows and just draw in better ones each day. (You can even have fun with it and make them different colors. Whatever, have fun!)
If that doesn’t sound appealing to you (I know I am WAY too lazy to draw eyebrows every day.) then we can cover them up temporarily. You have to be careful, though – you don’t want to apply something you can’t take off later, because accidentally pulling your eyebrow off with glue is way more painful than shaving it.
Here’s the steps (do this BEFORE you paint yourself orange):
- Brush your eyebrows upwards to get themlaying more uniformly
- Apply an Elmer’s Glue Stick to the eyebrow, until they are smooth against your skin. This may take multiple layers.
- Powder eyebrows until glue is not sticky to the touch
- Apply normal foundation
Airbrushes are a vital part of using a paint like Temptu. Thankfully, you don’t have to break the bank to get one. Check out my full guide on airbrush equipment for a run down of what I use.
To provide a smaller summary though, here’s the basics:
- Preferably one that can cover a large area at once. You don’t want one that sprays a pencil line. It will take forever and you’ll never get it even. My guide above has some recommendations for models with a broad spray.
- Air hose
- Often comes with the airbrush, but sometimes not. Check the contents of your box to be sure.
- Air compressor
- If you get the one mentioned in my equipment guide, it will work great for the type of airbrushes we’re looking at. But if you go with something beefier (like from a hardware store, meant for painting houses) you will need to look into a regulator to bring the air pressure down before using it. 15 PSI is a good average number for bodypainting airbrushes.
If you’re using alcohol based paints (such as the temptu above) then the best way I have found to remove it is with Coconut Oil. It’s super cheap (get a big tub of it in the food section at Walmart) and all it takes is a small glob. You rub it into your skin wherever there is paint. As you are rubbing, you will see the paint starting to come up. Once it’s lifting up on its own, simply wipe it away with a paper towel.
If you followed the above directions for gluing down your eyebrows, the coconut oil will also help to remove the glue.
Generally after getting the majority of the paint & glue off, I will hop in the shower. You’ll be faintly orange at first, but that should wear off within a day at most.
Do NOT try to remove Temptu with water. Temptu is waterproof, it won’t work. More importantly, when Temptu gets wet it starts to gum up and becomes even harder to remove. Use straight coconut oil to remove it and only shower once most of the paint is gone.
Ahsoka’s Headpiece (Montrals & Lekku)
It’s self-promo time! If you are still looking for other elements of Ahsoka’s costume (headpiece, armor, etc.) I sell most of them here! You can buy each piece either as a do-it-yourself kit (I of course provide instructions on how to put it together) or as a fully finished & painted set. Take a look!
Need More Answers?
You can join the Ahsoka Tano Cosplay Support Group! This is a wonderful group of lovely individuals who love to talk about Ahsoka, share their progress photos, answer questions, and just help people fall as much in love with cosplaying Ahsoka as we do! Please feel free to join and ask any question your heart desires! There are plenty of people, myself included, ready to help out.