One of the most common questions I get is how to get started with Bodypainting. In fact, I get this question so much, I’m actually writing an eBook to help everyone! The book isn’t quite done yet, but it will go over everything I’ve learned so far about turning my skin blue every weekend.
In the meantime, I thought it would be nice if I put together a quick guide on the equipment I would recommend for those who want to get started. I’ve been bodypainting for two years, and these items are still a huge part of how I get into costume before a convention. They are definitely a good place for a beginner to start, and they will serve you well for years to come.
Testors Air Compressor
There are a lot of options out there for air compressors. Especially when you go to hardware stores, there are some impressive and downright terrifying options. Some of them require regulators, and have you learning how to control the air pressure so as not to destroy your hobby airbrush…
That’s why I like this one. It’s made exactly for the type of airbrushing we’re trying to do, and it’s a great one to start with before you jump into anything more complicated. I’ve had one for 4 years now and it’s still going strong.
My other favorite feature about it is how easy it is to take onto airplanes. See… a lot of other air compressors look like bombs. And when you are travelling by plane to a convention, that air compressor will set off every red flag the TSA has. This little blue unassuming thing? I’ve never had a problem with it on a plane.
Aztek Broad Stroke Airbrush
Most airbrushes you find will be made for detail work – their stream will be a couple millimeters wide… MAYBE a centimeter or two. Broad Stroke airbrushes like this one, however, cover inches at a time. This is important because not only will it cover your body faster than most, but it will also help you keep a more even coat. When you are trying to change a lot of your skin color at once, a Broad Stroke airbrush is your best friend.
It’s also super easy to clean, especially compared to most other airbrushes. There’s really nothing to unscrew or dig into. You just wash out the jar & the cap and you’re good to go!
Two downsides: The cord that attaches it to your air compressor is very fragile, and can’t be replaced. If it breaks, you have to buy the whole airbrush new again. I’ve had to replace mine 3 times because my cats keep chewing on the cord. Also, it only has the one setting, so if you need more detailed designs, you may need a finer point airbrush to get them. This is totally normal though; most professional bodypainters I know have several airbrushes for different uses.
Spare Airbrush Cups
If you buy the Aztek Airbrush listed above, it comes with two cups – a big one and a small one. In my experience, the big ones don’t work very well, but the small ones are much more reliable. So here’s a link to some additional small cups, in case you’re like me and use multiple colors and don’t always want to rinse them out when it’s time to switch.
The Aztek airbrushes are very unique, and these cups are the only cups that work with them. Unfortunately they aren’t compatible with any other brand, but I’ve still got a full 2 years use out of them and they’re still going strong.
Upgrading to a Better Airbrush
If you’re looking for an upgrade from the above, here’s the airbrush I upgraded to. The Badger 150. Unlike the Aztek, which really only has the one setting (SPRAY EVERYTHING!!! NOMNOMNOM!) The Badger has different tips, and a dual-action trigger. Combined, these features let you have incredibly control over how much area you are spraying.
Are you doing a full body skin color? Equip the large tip and hold down that trigger to get a large area at once! Are you doing detail work like tattoos or markings? Switch to the small tip or consider holding the trigger only halfway to spray much smaller areas or lines.
For your money, the Badger 150 is one of the best airbrushes you can buy. I love this thing.
Thank you again for reading my tutorials! I have plenty more to come, so please check out the tutorial section of my website for more! Also, my new eBook, “The Cosplay Bodypaint Bible” will be out just as soon as I can finish writing it! If you subscribe to my newsletter, or follow my Facebook Page, you’ll be the first to hear about it once it’s available!