With Sherif Badr
Looking to make a costume? Don't rule out body paint. It's relatively inexpensive and can seriously make you stand out at any convention or occasion. At Anime North 2014, we were shocked to find the body painted Eren Yager titan and Annie Titan by Toronto's Annette Celia Rosemary and Matt Nixon. A little digging revealed that the makeup was done by Artisticurves' Jim. I hope I asked the right questions for those trying to execute something similar!
Thank you for agreeing to interview with us!
Not a problem at all. It was very flattering to have the request for an interview so I am happy to share a little about what I do.
Overall what was the process for doing makeup for the Shingeki No Kyojin Titans we saw at anime north?
When I had done the original Annie body paint in August 2013, there was very little visual references available. At the time I had not seen the series, but the model I was working with, Shelle-chii, is an avid fan and provided a couple of key source images and lots of direction during the painting process.
Since last August, I have watched the series and was able to grab a number of great source images from the animated program. I also used the images I had shot of Shelle-chii when I executed the version I did for Annette Celia Rosemary that she wore to Anime North.
Any design I work on starts by blocking the large areas of colour and then adding detail over top of these blocked colours. Annette obviously wanted the design to last all day, so I started with an alcohol airbrushed makeup. These colours won’t sweat off and are very durable to wear. I had even put makeup on the bottom of her feet that lasted quite well.
With this design, there is a specific technique to getting the sinew look of the muscle material. This part of the process is what took the longest, but ultimately, Annette loved the results. There is a lot of standing for the model while being painted, so a soft floor, or cushioned sandals are recommended.
The final step for the process was to powder and seal the makeup against friction and wear.
Was this the craziest request you've received? We'd love a picture
and description of something you're proud of.
The “Annie Leonhardt” makeup is definitely up there as one of my favourites. It is such a popular show that the design ends up getting a lot of attention. I am very humbled when something I do gets that kind of attention because it is not just the makeup work, but the concept that was brought to me and the personality of the model that has a lot to do with how well a design is received.
I enjoy everything I do, so it is very difficult to pick out one design. Most of my personal work is non-objective and I also focus on the photography end of what I do. A lot has to do with the lighting and the dynamic that a model brings to a concept. A couple of my favourite pieces happen to be some of the quickest painting processes, because I only work with two colours. My bronze and blue with Amanda Zombie-Evans, all white paint with Shelle-Chii and blue and orange flame with Northern Belle Cosplay all fall into this category.
Blue Fire - Northern Belle Rogue
White and Black - Shelle-chii
Bronze and Blue - Amanda Zombie-Evans
Of the more complex designs I have worked on, I would have to say my Lina Inverse with Taylor Schneider is up there. Also love my variation on Sif that I did with Amanda Zombie-Evans. Such a tough question,
because I could easily add ten more images I love.
Sif - Amanda Zombie-Evans
Lina Inverse - Taylor Schneider
How were the cosplayers reacting to the final product? They seemed happy.
I didn’t actually attend Anime North, so anything I have heard is second hand. Annette and Matt were very happy with the design and were excited to get to the con to show of their cosplay. A couple friends mentioned that they had seen them at the con and were very positive about the work. I was blown away with a Tumblr post that I was sent. The pic of Annie and Eren had 20,000+ likes and shares.
Is body makeup still a thing in movies?
It depends a lot on the type of film that is being created. I think we are seeing a lot more CG because of the ease of bringing large groups into a film. I was a little disappointed when LOTR started using CG orcs and goblins. I had a lot of respect for the amount of work that went into the first film with the masks, prosthetics and makeup.
The original Mystique, by Rebecca Romijn, was airbrushed over thin layers of textured prosthetics and I think the latest movie used the same technique on Jennifer Lawrence. CG looks close, but it has that “look”. Jennifer Lawrence looks real to me in the “Days of Future Past”, which is what I prefer.
Who are your biggest clients?
By far, Cosplayers are the best clients. I was very fortunate to connect with some terrific cosplayers when I first started transferring my art background to makeup. People like Elle Cosplay, Evie E and Shelle-chii spent countless hours getting painted. It was a perfect environment because the models wanted new material for their pages and I was happy to have the practice applying makeup.
Lots of people are "self taught. " What did you learn in school that you just wouldn't get on your own?
The best skills I was taught and value are planning, design theory and colour theory. Planning is paramount in any execution and it shows in my work when I don’t do proper planning.
Describe your training.
I am formally trained as a visual artist. So, painting, sculpture, drawing and photography are all areas that I studied at university. My day job is a high school art teacher and I have run a side photography business for a number of years. About three years ago I decided to add body painting to the services I offer to help set me apart from other photographers. Even with my knowledge of drawing and painting, I found working in makeup very difficult. Makeup does not behave much like paint, so it was a long period of adjustment getting my designs to the state they achieve now. I did a lot of practice, networking with other face and body painters, and did a lot of research and tutorials to improve my makeup techniques.
How battle ready is the makeup? Can they sit? Hug? Fight?
If I am doing a design for a photo shoot, I use a water based makeup because the cost is a lot cheaper. The colours look great, but even with precautions, the makeup will succumb to friction and sweat. Water based colours do well enough, but any flex points will have started to wear by the end of the shoot.
For someone attending a con, or any event that is outside, I use an alcohol based makeup. It will not sweat off and is very durable, even with friction. The down side to alcohol based designs is that it is considerably more expensive (about 3 to 4 times the cost of water based colours). Air brush application is almost identical, but brush work is more difficult because the alcohol evaporates so quickly.
Was the anime the only source material you had?
For this version of Annie, most of the reference images were taken from the anime, but more visuals are now available online and more people have done this cosplay, so those pics are out there as well. Sometimes, looking at what someone else has done can help because people stylize their drawing differently and see different details in a concept.
Are there any advances in makeup technology that you're excited about?
I haven’t heard about anything new in the last year or so, but companies are always coming out with new colours and materials. Everyone has their preferences and tend to stick with what works for them.
What items and brands always in your kit?
I always have lots of brushes, a back up air brush, colours galore and lots of cleaning and sanitizing products. Most models are fine without pasties, but I always keep them on hand to meet all comfort levels. Fake blood is used quite often, even outside of halloween. I have a shoot coming up next week that requires some “blood.” Prosthetic adhesive, which has a lot more applications than just attaching prosthetics.
For water based designs, I use Wolfe brand almost exclusively. There are a couple Mehron colours that I like, but I find switching products affects my feel for the flow of the makeup. For alcohol based designs I have tried products from Wolfe, Mehron and Reel Creations. I love the flow and ease of layering in the Reel Creations airbrush makeup and is the one I have settled on. I do have a distributor that will be giving me a demo with Proair and Dips soon. Making a switch to another product would depend on cost and ease of use.
Would project do you dream of doing?
I don’t have a dream design, but I would love to work on a project that has some kind of commercial release like film or television.
How can people reach you?
Thanks so much! If we have any crazy video ideas that need body makeup we'll be in touch!