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Body Paint

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A whole new meaning to "back catalogue".

"I didn't feel naked."
Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (on her Mystique "costume" in X-Men)

People for whom their body is their canvas... literally. Older Than Feudalism as there's evidence for body painting in ancient Roman historical documentation. The complexity of designs can range from a single color all over, through designs and patterns, pictures and artwork to even paint so detailed and accurate that the person looks like they're wearing clothes.

Most commonly seen painted on attractive women for added Fanservice, or on fanatical sports fans, especially when the weather is inappropriate to be wearing only paint, to show their devotion to their team.

In real life, full-body suits like this on models and actors can often take far longer to apply than most makeup sessions (which, as any actor can attest, tend to be long to begin with), often twelve hours (or more), and take a great deal of patience from the models themselves.

Contrast Painted-On Pants, where the clothes are just so tight they look painted on, and Form-Fitting Wardrobe, which is the next step up.

See also This Means Warpaint, a subtrope of this.

Examples of painted clothes:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In episode 26c of Jewelpet: Magical Change, Sakutaro is the star of a fairy tale movie and tells a pumpkin he helped in a store that he doesn't have suitable clothing for Laura's party. The pumpkin (actually Ruby playing one), using her magic, creates fancy prince clothes that are painted onto Sakutaro's body; however, since the magic doesn't last long, Sakutaro has to leave the party early so that nobody sees him mostly naked.
  • Kill la Kill: Mataro Mankanshoku sells the suit he was given and attends the Revocs Corporation's ceremony naked, having painted his body black-and-white to give the impression that he's wearing clothes. His father laments not having thought of that himself.
  • A story in the first volume of Maboroshi Panty had Maboroshi Panty thwart a Panty Thief by fighting him while panties were painted over her nether regions after her previous two attempts to apprehend him ended with her forced to flee in embarrassment when her panties were yanked off by the thief's fishing pole.

    Comic Books 
  • Top 10:
    • Artificial Human Girl One has an interesting variant of this — her skin shifts color at will, with its default being purple. Since her creators were a pair of horny fanboys, she was also engineered with a compulsion to not wear clothes — she makes do by just creating patterns on her skin that make it hard to notice she's nude. Note that the obvious sister trope is not in play (she has the same hangups and shame about being naked as normal humans, but she can't bring herself to wear clothing). When she realizes her boss is colorblind and can see past her tricks, she decks him. Of course her boss, being a sentient dog in a humanoid exoskeleton, tells her that her naked body means as little to him as a dog's would to her, so she forgives him. However, he's lying, for a double Stealth Pun: he's lying like a dog, and he's a dirty dog for ogling her.
    • Later Girl clones have the same situation, as well. Girl 54 from the possibly not canon "Beyond the Farthest Precinct" plays it the same way as Girl One, Girl Two quickly finds clothes, but a near-rape shatters her emotionally, driving her off the force — she becomes a lawyer in a fancy suit, instead.
  • In an issue of The Avengers, some dude on the street tells She-Hulk that he loves her "green body paint" and asks if she needs any help removing it. Jen, naturally, responds by stuffing him into the nearest trashcan.
  • An issue of The Simpsons comic has Homer painting on a shirt and going to work like this to cope with a heatwave. Later, he's seen in a jail cell with a towel wrapped around him, talking about how his idea of painted on pants was not as subtle or well-received.

    Comic Strips 
  • In the 2015 reboot of Bloom County, Abby (a New-Age prodigy daughter of a neighbor) frequently covers Opus in psychedelic patters using fabric dye whenever she baby-sits him. (She says it's for Feng-shu harmonization, but he sure looks funny.)

    Fan Works 
  • A YuruYuri Hentai doujin features the cast applying this on each other... and having a little too much fun in the process.

  • Robert A. Heinlein:
    • I Will Fear No Evil has Eunice Branca, whose husband is an artist. He would very often paint her body. She wears an entertaining paint job to work one day that is intended to confuse her boss as to whether it is skintight clothing or paint.
    • In The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress it's used an entirely normal substitute for clothing, presumably because there's no weather in the Luna underground cities.
  • I Did NOT Give That Spider Superhuman Intelligence!: Cyber Angel has no costume besides gloves and Combat Stilettos, just neon blue acrylic body paint.
  • We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Shirley, the topless receptionist of Rekall, has a habit of coloring her bare and ample breasts in different colors such as blue and orange.
  • Harry Turtledove's Worldwar novels star a race of alien lizards who use body paint rather than clothing, which is justifiable because they come from a hot, arid planet. It's all highly ritualized, to the point where an actor playing an Emperor isn't allowed to wear the proper body paint because it's seen as blasphemous. After humanity achieves an uneasy peace with the Race, the body paint is just one of the affectations human teens adopt from them, along with shaven heads and slang derived from the Race's language. Also, a group of captive lizards also ends up inventing a brand-new body paint pattern made up of red, white, and blue colors (they have become Americanized), which annoys Straka to no end, since he believes that all members of the Race have to use officially-approved patterns. Ironically, he ends up escaping captivity by applying the paint of a common soldier. Since most humans have a hard time telling lizards apart, it works surprisingly well. By the mid-21 century, (at least) American women have gotten used to walking around topless in public, either wearing body paint or not. This is quite a shock to those, who were alive in the 1940s.

    Live-Action TV 

  • CSI: NY: In "Wasted," a model sporting a painted-on swimsuit drops dead on the runway. Turns out the specific can of paint used to create her outfit had been laced with ecstasy in a smuggling attempt gone bad. The runway lights were so hot the drugs vaporized, and she inhaled a lethal amount.
  • Jimmy Kimmel Live!: The "Lululemon Pledge -- Spray on Pants" sketch is about ridiculously expensive "yoga pants" that are really just sprayed on black paint. The woman showing it off in public has to have her crotch and butt cleft covered with Pixellation. The sketch was make to make fun of the real Lululemon yoga pants getting recalled or banned for being too tight/see-through.
  • On Las Vegas, one of the casino's bars featured cocktail waitresses who wear painted on tops.

  • David Bowie appears with face paint on the cover of Aladdin Sane.
  • Frank Zappa's face is painted black on the cover of Joe's Garage.
  • Blackie Lawless is wearing body paint on the cover of WASP's third album, Inside the Electric Circus.
  • The video for Right Said Fred's revival of I'm Too Sexy involved four women in body painted uniforms. In a rain storm.
  • Both Gotye and Kimbra in the former's music video of "Somebody That I Used to Know".
  • Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra's "Want it Back."
  • Fela Kuti always performed in body paint and Tribal Face Paint.
  • Michael Stipe from R.E.M. performed with blue paint on his face in the 2000s.
  • Stumpen, singer of the German metal band Knorkator, has the entire left side of his body tattooed. As the band was well known for its over the top hilarity and weird stage costumes, he often performed in nothing but his underpants.
  • Hip-hop and Rapper Teyana Taylor and two other females shrouded themselves in body paint(minus clothing) in a music video named "Drippin" featuring Quavo. However, Teyana was clothed in some separate scenes.
  • Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland likes to perform painted from the waist up.
    Print Media 
  • The yearly Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazine has nearly as many models wearing Body Paint as opposed to actual bathing suits. One SI editor was eating breakfast on location with Rebecca Romijn and some of the crew and said he was halfway through the meal before he realized the bikini top Romijn was wearing was just paint.
  • The cover of the December 1984 ''National Lampoon'' had a woman covered in body paint that made it look like she was wearing a business suit (albeit quite a form-fitting one).
  • Demi Moore wore only body paint in her picture on the cover of the August 1992 issue of Vanity Fair, as seen here.
  • One printer ad, telling you what you see at different dpi levels, uses a picture of a woman apparently wearing a one-piece swimsuit. At the highest dpi level mentioned, you see that it's painted on.
  • Car and Driver magazine, believe it or not, once published a comparison test issue with a cover depicting two nude female torsos painted as national flags. A lot of people probably wondered what, if anything, that particular issue had to do with cars or driving.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A Shadowrun book set in Germany has at one point two people who appear to wear Painted-On Pants (or rather, full-bodysuits), but really were completely tattooed. These books were pretty weird...

    Web Comics 
  • In League of Super Redundant Heroes, villainess Distracterella has the superpower to distract males (as well as lesbian/bi females). As it happens, her skintight suit is no suit, but body paint and three star-shaped pasties.
  • Katia Managan of Prequel is a strange example. Underneath her normal clothes, she has a bra and pair of panties, both brown, painted onto her fur in their appropriate locations. This supposed underwear can be seen whenever Katia gets naked. Which is often.

    Western Animation 
  • The last episode of Camp Lazlo is about Scoutmaster Lumpus painting his whole body to make him look like he is wearing clothes, so he doesn't have to do his laundry. Everyone finds out about this, so they do what Lumpus did, giving them enough free time to do things like solve world hunger and invent a time machine. Lumpus is recognized as a genius because of his body-paint idea...until a thunderstorm hits.
  • Futurama:
    • During the episode "Roswell That Ends Well," Fry uses a can of spray paint that actually creates an army uniform.
    • Similarly, Amy loses her top during a Beach Episode (Season 2, Episode 3: "When Aliens Attack"); she has the professor hand her a spare, which turns out to be a can of "All Purpose Spray". This is the same generic phlebotinum used in the army uniform above.
  • Hamton tries this when forced to walk home in the nude in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures. Too bad he overlooked his backside. This isn't what leads to his downfall, however: It's a car splashing him.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball and Darwin have no clothes after their dad ruined them by putting them in the dishwasher, so they go to school with their clothes drawn on with crayon.
  • It turns out that the Spy Catsuit Ashi and the other Daughters of Aku appeared to be wearing in Samurai Jack season 5 is actually soot and ash burned into their skin (so deep that it takes Ashi scrubbing with rocks a whole night to get it off).

    Real Life 
  • There are a variety of businesses that have women wearing only body paint as employees, including catering services, waitresses in bars, models and so on.
  • Ben Nye, the theatrical makeup company, does "make-up as costume on young female nude" on a semi-regular basis. The artists' work is amazing.
  • It varies from place to place, but body paint can technically categorize as clothing because it's a layer of something worn over the bare skin.
  • Several years back, a gentleman did an entire Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform out of a black jockstrap, black slippers, stick-on rank pips and comlink, and everything else out of stage makeup. And then he went cruising the convention parties to much squeeing.
  • Common for the Brazilian Carnival, especially since a goal of a lot of the dancers is to wear as little clothing as they could feasibly get away with while looking exotic, so there's an industry of people who get to paint Jaguars and other designs on these ladies.
  • Part of the point of the the annual Fremont Solstice Festival nude bike ride preceding the actual parade, a.k.a. "Solstice Cycles," in Seattle, WA (Warning, link NSFW). Inspired by a similar international ride. Body paint designs vary from the rudimentary and minimal, to extensive and highly artistic, to bodypaint "cosplay."
  • Featured artists at more adult festivals and conventions often do body painting. If their paintings and prints are out of price range of most attendees, they can count on easy extra income decorating skin, sometimes nude.
  • On a less adult side of things, face painting is an extremely common thing at festivals and carnivals, for much the same reasons.
  • Naked women simply covered in paint with no theme to it is a subset of the paraphilia of women covered in various, often viscous, substances. ("Wet and Messy")
  • During World War II, nylon was reserved for military use. Women compensated for the lack of nylon stockings by painting stocking seams onto their bare legs, (or drawing them on with eyebrow pencils).
  • Literal painted-on clothing technology is being developed, as in the clothing "paint" is applied and then can be taken off and put back on like regular clothes.
  • There are countless superhero/ine costumes developed for 3D software programs. Obviously, merely recoloring standard clothing or skin in the iconic colors is much easier to do as a real 3D costume.

Other examples:

  • When M&M's added Blue to their array of colors in 1995, Red and Yellow were left out of the commercial because they weren't blue. When the two come across several cans of blue paint, Red gets the idea to paint him and Yellow blue. At first, their plan seems to work, but their ruse is exposed when it's revealed that they only painted their front sides.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: At the end of the second DVD special (where the dragon characters were dressing up like animals), Lucoa puts some splotches of black paint on her skin and calls herself a milk cow. She's promptly arrested for public indecency.

    Comic Books 
  • Invoked in an issue of the ElfQuest spinoff Rebels, in which the very much metallic-looking android Shimmer (part of the title group) passes for human at least once by claiming that these are currently all the rage where he (?) comes from. The same excuse also helps cover for Rose, who looks and talks close enough to a human child at a glance except for her part-Preserver DNA leaving her rather, well, green.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rebecca Romijn's actual costume as Mystique in X-Men and its sequels is just blue body paint with judiciously located pieces of textured lizard-skin make-up appliances. Jennifer Lawrence, Romijn's younger Time-Shifted Actor, followed suit in the prequel films.
  • Ahnk Su Namun's costume in The Mummy (1999) is a loin cloth and body paint (and really long hair). Apparently the director was prepared to digitally cover her up more and was surprised that the censors allowed it as-is. The same couldn't be said for the airline versions and the trailers. In-story, the paint is actually makeup that smudges easily, and its purpose was to let Pharaoh know if anyone touched his queen. In the sequel, it was decided that the body paint was too much trouble to reapply constantly and they just went with a bodysuit that achieved the same effect.
  • In The Invisible Woman (1983), Sandy used a large quantity of flesh-colored body paint to hide the fact that she had become invisible.
  • In The Pillow Book Nagiko paints her book onto people and sends them naked to the publisher.
  • Kippur begins and ends with a scene showing the protagonist and his girlfriend rubbing paint all over each other while making love.
  • In a heart-wrenching scene in the movie Pleasantville, the protagonist helps paint his mother with her still-grey makeup to disguise her sudden colorfulness.
  • The Na'vi in Avatar love this stuff; Jake wears it in his initiation ceremony and pretty much everyone wears it during the Final Battle. Even Trudy's gunship.
  • Kari Wührer gets this treatment in Vivid, not that it looks anything like clothing.
  • Likewise Ann-Margret in The Swinger, though she has a bikini on underneath.
  • Better Than Chocolate: Maggie and Kim play with this.
  • Goldfinger. Jill Masterson was killed by being painted solid gold, which in the movie was explained as "skin suffocation". Spawned a myth (Summarily busted: You don't breathe through your skin, people — but if you're allergic to metallic powder, watch out) and thousands of imitators.
  • This was invoked in the 1940s movie Bedlam when corrupt asylum manager Boris Karloff has a patient painted gold to play a statue as an amusement for a patron. The patient collapses and dies from skin suffocation.
  • In Where the Heart Is (1990, not the one with Natalie Portman), a woman creates a calendar by re-creating famous paintings and putting people in them that are painted so they blend in with the images (including her sister, played by Uma Thurman).
  • Star Trek (2009): Rachel Nichols paints her body green to play a literal Green-Skinned Space Babe.
  • Epic Movie (2007): Carmen Electra plays a spoof of Mystqiue who is very slutty and sexy. She's covered in blue body paint with some prosthetics to hide her nipples and privates. Later on in the film, she seduces the main character Peter into having sex with her. Since she's a shapeshifter, he eventually asks her to get fatter and older. She morphs into another actress, Lichelle D. Ebner, who is in similar makeup, with the only difference being that she is a lot fatter and flabbier, which of course turns Peter on.
  • The Man Who Sold His Skin: Sam is a Syrian refugee who gets a Schengen visa to enter the European letting an artist tattoo a giant Schengen visa on his back. He becomes a living work of art, sitting in museums and galleries while tourists pass by and look.

  • According to Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, this is how the Ethiopian got his skin and the leopard his spots.
  • In The Empress Game, Kayla wears body paint while fighting in the arena. It's mostly black, with dark red slashes — this imitates the coloring of the animal she uses as her Nom de Guerre.
  • In L. Sprague de Camp's classic SF cycle Viagens Interplanetarias, one of the humanoid cultures on planet Krishna lives in such a hot climate that the people forgo clothing altogether, and only wear jewelery and body paint.
  • In Keith Laumer's story "Wicker Wonderland", CDT diplomat Jame Retief decides to do a little diving beneath a Poonian floating city. To do so, he strips down and the diving suit is spray painted onto him. Various color schemes are optional.
  • The Race from Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series have no need for clothing (at least in climates like they're used to) and therefore display rank insignia through body paint. By the 1960's, when the aliens have been living on Earth for a while, rebellious teenagers in the US start adopting Lizard "clothing" for the shock value. By the end of Homeward Bound, which takes place in the 21st century, a sizable percentage of the American population wears naught but bodypaint, and public nudity is no longer taboo (one of the most popular game shows on TV is famous for the host's stunning assistant walking around topless).
  • Flatlanders (humans from Earth) in Larry Niven's Known Space series use cosmetic drugs to change their skin, hair, and eye colors to the point that walking down a slidewalk in a big city can be like watching a rainbow walk by. Basic patterns are even possible. Combine this with an almost complete lack of a social nudity taboo (Earth is far too crowded by this point for a nudity taboo to be at all practical), and this trope is in full force. It was inverted in one story, Luis Wu shocked everyone at a party by showing up dressed in nothing but his natural coloration; it wasn't his nudity that was shocking... it was his lack of bodypaint.
  • In Quest for Fire, the Wah tribe (anatomically modern humans) cover themselves in body paint that the neanderthal protagonist mistakes for scaly reptilian skin. The Red Dwarves also appear to paint themselves with red ochre.
  • In Outcast of Redwall, Nightshade the vixen paints her body with mud.
  • We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Shirley, the bare-breasted receptionist of Rekall, has a habit of coloring her chest in different colors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Nina pesters Elliot for a photoshoot to bring her back to the spotlight. He ends up shooting her in gold paint, then she insults him. To get even with her, he tells Nina that the paint won't come off without a special solvent, and that trying to wash it off will burn her, so she ends up walking around in gold the entire episode.
  • Very cruelly subverted in 1000 Ways to Die. A woman named Wendy who worked in a factory used some glowing paint from her work during intimacy with her husband. It turned out that said paint was radioactive (more exactly, made from radium, and few years later Wendy died from bone cancer — and some of her co-workers died as well. The other ill women who survived filed a successful lawsuit, and became the "Radium Girls".
  • Justin in the Disney Channel crossover special Wizards On Deck With Hannah Montana.
  • On the makeup FX game show Face/Off, painting nude models has been the basis for a few challenges, and body paint is also used in most makeups along with costuming.
  • The Syfy show Naked Vegas was centered around the employees of a bodypainting studio in the titular city, with each episode focusing on a particular task for different clients, from bodypainting a bridal party to aiding Penn & Teller in creating an illusion with painted contortionists.
  • The competition show Skin Wars, where body painters compete to be crowned America's best. As you would expect from US TV, when the models are introduced wearing nothing but pasties and unpainted, their breast areas are blurred out. Yet the very same breasts are still in plain view under a coat of paint later in the show and are not pixellated.
  • In the "Hook Man" (S01, Ep07) episode of Supernatural, Sam helps Murph, a member of a college fraternity, paint his back purple.
  • CSI: In "All for Our Country," Catherine and Sara investigate what happened to a college football fan whose body is found bloated in the bath tub. Sara examines a shirt and finds the number 7 traced on the inside. Catherine says it comes from the man's chest where it was printed in makeup.


    Print Media 
  • Maryam d'Abo, the female lead of The Living Daylights, did a Homage to the Goldfinger scene in her September 1987 Bond-themed pictorial for Playboy, posing wearing gold body paint. (Not something she was proud of later, as she later said in an interview in People.)

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Savage Orc variant of Warhammer Orcs wear magic warpaint that provides mystical protection roughly equivalent to light armor, except that it can potentially deflect cannonballs — which is a good thing, since they otherwise wear nothing more concealing than a loincloth, due to the heat where they live. One codex noted that a band of savage orcs was only allowed to join Grimgor's Waaaagh! on the condition that they wear some kind of clothing.
  • A cyberpunk RPG series had library-mages, mages that used the power of ancient texts to power themselves. The example given was of a bibliomancer (a mage using the power of the bible's occult elements) who had tattooed the entire thing on her bare skin for more power.
  • In the Sandstorm supplement for Dungeons & Dragons, a type of elf called the Painted Elf lives in the deep desert, decorating their bodies with clay pigments to indicate their family and tribe while keeping them cool.

    Video Games 
  • In Roommates, Rakesh often ends up covered in paint. Sometimes it's just an unintended side effect of an enthusiastic creative endeavor, but others it's entirely intentional (such as the time he wanted to use his chest as a paintbrush despite being a very hairless Bishounen).
  • Dragon Age: Origins has kaddis, a magical warpaint for Mabari dogs. In story, it's explained as a way for the dogs to differentiate their allies from their enemies during the heat of battle, as the paint has a particular smell that is stronger than the scent of blood or sweat and the dogs' handlers paint themselves as well as their dogs (though you never see your Warden with any paint). In gameplay, it simply adds buffs.

    Web Original 
  • Skippy's List references this. "43. Camouflage body paint is not a uniform."
  • There's some literal Pokémon cosplay photos floating around the internet of a girl wearing a full-body paintjob of a Mudkip.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Garfield and Friends: In "The Beast From Beyond", a T-rex manages to survive the comet that wiped out his species and plots to Take Over the World by painting himself pink, passing himself off as a friendly Barney-like host called "Sidney the Pink Dinosaur" and singing sappy hypnotic songs. Garfield turns out to be the only person immune to the songs (due to a combination of not looking at the screen and flat-out realizing how stupid they are), so he goes to the studio where Sidney's show is being filmed and swaps Sidney's can of pink paint for a can of pink paint remover, foiling Sidney's evil plan and exposing his true colors, both figuratively and literally.
  • Green Eggs and Ham (2019): The first season's story arc has Sam-I-Am liberate Mr. Jenkins the Chickeraffe from the Glurfsburg Zoo. He claims to Guy-Am-I that he's trying to send him home to Chickeraffe Island and that the BADGUYS are trying to sell him to Mr. Snerz, but it is later revealed in "House" that Sam was the one hired by Snerz to bring Mr. Jenkins to him, and that the BADGUYS were trying to return him to the zoo. In "There", it seems as if Sam had sold Mr. Jenkins to Snerz after all, but when E.B. tries to save him in the finale, "Anywhere", she finds out that it isn't really Mr. Jenkins, but rather a Girooster (the more hostile cousin of the Chickeraffe) painted to look like him, as the paint isn't dry yet, meaning that Sam really was sending Mr. Jenkins back to Chickeraffe Island. She exposes this to everyone by getting Michellee to literally spill her beans, knowing that Giroosters eat beans and Chickeraffes eat ties.
  • In an episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger loses his stripes, so he has his friends paint some new ones on. The weather abruptly turns stormy the moment he steps outside.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: In "Two-Tone Town", Buster and Babs help obscure black and white Warner Bros. cartoon stars Foxy, Roxy, and Goopy Geer, who were previously all down on their luck, get lead parts on ACME Oop!, a new TV show that ends up replacing Tiny Toons in its time slot and getting it cancelled. To ensure that he's not left out of a job, Plucky paints himself black and white to get a part on ACME Oop!.


Video Example(s):



The brothers try to mask their internal organs with paint (don't ask, it's a long story).

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BodyPaint

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