Body Painted Life Casts


life cast of Janet Jackson's superbowl outfit


Before I had gotten started in the field of bodypainting, I saw one of the most intriguing pieces of artwork showcased at the 2000 Exotic Art show at the Alwun House in Phoenix.  At first glance, it appeared to be a bronze sculpture of a woman's upper torso that was hanging on the wall.  Upon closer inspection, I realized that the detail was so realistic that you could actually see finger prints on the hands.  This was no sculpture, but a plaster casting made from a mold of a live model and then given an antiqued bronze finish.  This art form, I later found out was called life casting.

About a year later, I happened upon a website called and found the life caster who had done the casting.  There was a picture of the very same casting on the site and it was titled "Who Me?"  The artists name is Byur Gullwing and you can find his work at both and on the Art Molds web site.  Since then we contacted each other and  set out to collaborate on a project where he would do the life casting and I would "bodypaint" the resulting plasterer cast.


Our first collaboration was displayed at the Alwun House's 2003 Exotic Art Show and thereafter was displayed at the Imbeau Gallery in Mesa, Arizona.  The project was entitled "Isis" and was an Ancient Egyptian themed painting that featured a colorful neck piece and an Ankh symbol.  Below are some images of the rough draft, progress shots, the final product, and a picture of a live model that was painted with the same artwork during the opening night of the Exotic Art Show.  The Isis lifecast is available for purchase, please inquire about details if you are interested.


Our next collaboration came just over a week after the world was shocked by the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast at the Superbowl halftime show in February of 2004.  I had been planning to do a live bodypainting at the 2004 Exotic Art exhibition that exploited the Janet Jackson outfit that had been plastered all over the news for the previous two weeks.  By a twist of fate, Byur and I had contacted each other and I proposed the idea of also painting the outfit on another of his life casts.   He happened to have one that was ready and by chance held a similar pose to the Janet Jackson photos.  The piece was painted and ready for opening night of the exhibit and was put on display above the stairs for the 600 plus attendees to see.  Below are some progress shots, the final image, and again the live model that was painted on opening night.  This hand painted lifecast is also available for purchase.

Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting
Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting Janet Jackson Superbowl Body Painting life cast of Janet Jackson's superbowl outfit


This lifecast painting was part of a live demonstration during LepreCon 30, Arizona's annual art-oriented science fiction and fantasy convention.  Lifecaster Byur Gullwing began with a brief discussion of the art-form of lifecasting for an audience of approximately 30 attendees and then proceeded to demonstrate the step by step process with the first of two models.  While Gullwing was doing his presentation, I began painting a finished lifecast on the opposite side of the stage.  The images below show some of the steps that Gullwing went through to create the lifecast.  The first image shows the application of the alginate material and the second shows that cotton was patted on the surface to increase it's strength.  The last picture is the final plasterer lifecast that was made from the mold.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few steps that I didn't have the opportunity to photograph.

Applying alginate on model

waiting for alginate to set Raw finished plasterer lifecast

After the application of the alginate, the next step was adding a structural shell made of plasterer and medical bandages.  Once all of the materials had hardened, the mold was pryed from the model.  The total time for each model was less than 45 minutes.  This was the final step that was demonstrated at the LepreCon showcase, but there were obviously several things that Gullwing had to do to complete the molds and pour the plasterer for the final lifecast.

While Gullwing was doing his demonstration, I started mine by painting a plasterer lifecast that was completed days before the show.  The theme of LepreCon this year was futuristic combat and as I started brainstorming, my plan was to paint a space scene and have a space ship hovering over the extraterrestrial moonscape.  Somewhere along the way I changed my mind and decided to replace the spaceship with a flying dragon (exercising artistic license).  Below is a photo of the lifecast before being painted, a progress photo of how much was completed in front of the live audience, and a photo of the completed painting.

unpainted lifecast Progress shot of the lifecast painting

This original hand-painted lifecast has been christened "Moon of Pern" as a tribute to the dragon novels by Anne McCaffrey.  It is currently for sale.  If you are interested in this lifecast or in having one made to order, feel free to contact and visit my website at and/or and visit his site at


A painted lifecast of the Marvel comics (and 20th Century Fox motion picture) character Elektra was created for the 2005 CopperCon 25 science fiction convention.  I had started planning this project with Gullwing, the lifecasting guru of Arizona, several months before the event.  I had a pose in mind that would simulate a swan dive with arms outstretched and the back arched.  Gullwing warned me that this would be a very fragile lifecast and that although it would be difficult to cast, he was up for the challenge.  I was really impressed with a casting Gullwing had done of a little girl's hand holding a real Christmas ball.  The girl was able to pull her hand out of the mold while leaving the ball behind and this created a plaster cast of her hand with the actual Christmas ball trapped within.  Expanding on this idea, I wanted to have the lifecast of Elektra include her sais (her short sword-like weapons) molded into the casting of her hands.  I was able to buy some limited edition Elektra sais on E-bay that even sported her signature logo and matched her weapons used in the comicbooks.  Next we set out to find the perfect model for the project and Gullwing discovered Andrea.  She is a local fitness model and bodybuilder that proved to be perfect for the part.  There were two casting sessions with her and I took some pictures of the first session, but wasn't able to attend the second session in which the actual Elektra casting was made.  A significant amount of time was spent planning the session and building a platform to support her in the pose.  Add to this the time Gullwing spent pouring the mold, cleaning up the rough edges once it had set, and then applying the primer paint.  You can imagine his dismay after making all of this investment into the project when the arm broke off while he was carrying it into my garage to be painted.  The lifecast had brushed up against a dolly and that was all that it took to break the arm into three pieces.  Miraculously he was able to repair it and then I started the painting.  For the painting, I scoured the internet looking for images of Jennifer Garner in the role of Elektra and I had planned to match as much of her outfit as possible.  My search led me to several evocative paintings by artist Greg Horn and I decided that I wanted to incorporate some of his costuming in the casting also.  I opted for his loin cloth and leg straps in lieu of the movie version's long pants.  It also appears that the sais were designed based on Horn's artwork.  Here are some chronological snapshots of the lifecast being painted.

Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25 Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25 Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25
Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25 Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25 Painted lifecast of Elektra at CopperCon 25

The lifecast was put on display at the sci-fi convention and had a great reception.  In a very interesting turn of events, there was a book sale in the dealers room and as I passed by I picked up a copy of Elektra, the novelization of the recent movie.  I had spent the past month working on an Elektra lifecast so I had researched the character to the nth degree.  Interested, but I decided to put it back down when sales woman said it was better than the movie and offered to sign it.  I hadn't realized that she was the author.  I'm now a proud owner of a Yvonne Navarro signed copy of Elektra (which is better than the movie by the way).

life size statue of arabian horse with Egyptian painting

Although this is not exactly a lifecast, it is a life-sized sculpture of an Arabian horse that was painted for the Kaleidoscope Horse Project.  Kaleidoscope Horses is a community art "fun" raiser project that benefits the art departments of valley public schools and other non-profit organizations such as Horses Help Therapeutic Riding Organization.  Artists are selected to paint their original designs on life sized horses made of a fiberglass resin.  There are several horse designs including the Arabian horse that I painted, Percheron draft horse, and a quarter horse, each weighing more than 125lbs.  The first batch of horses were painted and displayed at local shopping malls and then in October of 2005 they were all delivered to the Arizona State Fair for the public to enjoy.  This is where I painted my Arabian.

We were given free reign on coming up with our designs and I opted for an ancient Egyptian theme to coincide with the Arabian heritage.  The design is centered around the three great pyramids of Egypt silhouetted against a colorful sunset.  As the sunset transitions into a starry night, the Orion constellation is seen directly above the pyramids.  Legend has it that the three stars that form Orion's belt are directly related to the size and layout of the three great pyramids.  There are many other Egyptian themes that I decorated the horse with including the Egyptian eye, scarabs, ankhs, etc.

kaleidoscope horse on display at arizona state fair horse muzzel painted with Egyptian symbols Constellation of Orien over the Great Pyramids heirologlyphics on the horses legs All of the kaleidoscope horses gathered at the State Fair

Byur Gullwing and I have several other projects in the conceptual stage and I have been contacted by E. J. McCormick of both and about painting several lifecasts to help promote the art form.  I look forward to adding those images to this page in the near future.  Check back soon.

Please feel free to visit these associated links::

Art Molds - 
Byur Gullwing - 
Byur Gullwing - 
E.J. McCormick - 
2002 Alwun House Exhibit - 
2004 Alwun House Exhibit - 

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