Bodypainting artists are some of the best out there when it comes to playing tricks on the mind, using nothing but make-up and paint. The creators of this form of body art are masters at twisting the human form to create some pretty amazing optical illusions. We've gathered up the most eye-catching, fairytale-like, confusing body art out there for you to enjoy. We promise you've never seen anything like this before!
Despite the nature of many images on this list, there aren't many that make us want to look away quite like this one (but we still can't manage to peel our eyes off of her). This woman's face looks like it's literally tearing and splitting down the middle. This artist was able to find a shade of black darker than anything we have ever seen for this painting. Whoever did this also did a really good job of incorporating the background into where the chin splits, giving the scene more depth.
The artist probably had to study the proportions of this woman's face pretty closely in order to pull this illusion off. It looks as if there is way more surface area than there actually is.
This is a really cool example of what can be achieved using body paint. Whoever painted this design scrambled the woman's facial features by painting them onto blocks, sort of like a weird puzzle. The way the blocks seem to float in midair is also another reason we really enjoyed this one. It takes some great skill to get the blocks to pop out as they do on this woman's body.
And while the outline of the woman's face is visible in black, we think that just adds to the image as a whole and goes to show how much talent this artist had to be able to draw the blocks.
A Shower Unlike Any Other
Another illusion that messes with the mind, this artist incorporated a showerhead into this incredible piece. The woman has what looks like a hollow space in her stomach from where the showerhead goes right through. It's actually kind of hard to tell where the real showerhead ends and where the painted one starts. We have no doubt that this took a huge amount of skill to pull off.
The hollow square is exceptionally detailed. The shadows and use of color go a long way in making this look believable. The artist even gave the showerhead a proper shadow. We can't help but get the same vibes as watching a 1990s sci-fi when looking at this photo.
Giving "four-Eyes" a New Definition
This body art gives the illusion that someone's taken over part of this woman's face. All we want to do is rescue her! But it's also really mind-bending to stare at. The artist managed to pretty convincingly stretch this woman's mouth halfway across her head. Even the details around the lips were pulled off pretty well. You can't really tell where the model's real mouth ends, and the painting begins. The shadows around the eyes are also a nice touch and add to the image's sense of horror.
Just imagine rocking this to the next Halloween party you're invited to. Apart from being absolutely terrifying, it's also very unique. And it's pretty safe to assume you might turn some heads; luckily, you'd have an extra set of eyes to meet them.
She Got Things Real Twisted
This is one of our favorite body art pieces on this list. Why? Well, because it's one of the most mind-boggling. The artist did an incredible job of making it look like this woman's face and neck twisted into themselves. Look at the eyebrows - they're even painted on to reflect how one side of her face got more sucked into the knot than the other side. It's simply genius.
We love the touch of the paintbrushes coming out of her hair. Could this be a metaphor for artists who get twisted trying to figure out their next work?
Looking Into the Galaxy
We've seen some tattoos that utilize the same style as this body painting, but the detail here is just incredible. You actually get the sense that this women's back is shredded, allowing you to peer into space. The colors are also really well done; it must have taken ages to get this one just right. It's almost as if you could jump right through this woman's back and end up on the other side of the universe.
This piece of art is definitely a bit grotesque, but we still can't look away. Maybe that's because there aren't any eyes looking back at us, only the infinite nature of space and time.
Laces That Won't Untie
This photo is pretty incredible. Someone had laces painted on one of their feet, and they looked extraordinarily realistic. It's also kind of creepy looking. The laces are painted as if they were there to sew up each half of this person's foot. It almost reminds us of a realistic-looking tattoo or something out of Alice In Wonderland. The details, like the eyeholes, are spot on, and the shadows add depth.
However, with that said, stare at this photo for too long, and it starts to look grotesque, which we're sure is something the artist was going for when painting this image.
Jenga It Is Then
This optical illusion using body paint is pretty mind-bending. The artist managed to turn this woman's face into a set of Jenga pieces. Not only that, but the pieces even have a wood grain pattern to them. They were also able to add some depth and make it appear as though the blocks were sliding in and out in place. One thing's for sure: this is one game of Jenga that we rather just watch rather than play.
Apart from the rest of the details that really work to bring the painting alive, the artist seemed to turn the model's facial features, like her nose, into almost cartoonish figures.
Loosen up Those Buttons
In another slightly extraordinary image, an artist turned this man's body into a shirt or sweater made out of someone's skin. This truly looks like something out of a horror movie, so why do we love it? The artists also did a great job with what's supposed to be the flap, and the shadows go a long way in adding depth and believability to this painting. The detailed stitching patterns on either side of the buttons are a nice touch, too.
If you look closely, you can see that the buttons also match the model's pants. All in all, this painting is like many others on this list: terribly imaginative and really cool.
The Library You Can Take With You Everywhere
Here is a post that's a bit more lighthearted. An artist turned this man's back into a pile of books stacked one on top of another. While it's not the most realistic-looking image on here, it's cool for the way the guy's body blends into the photo's background. The stack of books appears to pop out, similar to the photo of the blocks and scrambled face in an earlier post.
The man's hand place is also on point here, and it really looks like he is about to reach back and pull a book from the space in his back.
Batteries Not Included
If only this were real, and if only we had it every time we were looking for batteries for the remote. The artist really went above and beyond with the shading work on this piece. Stare at it for too long, and you would be forgiven for thinking this was real: a human arm with actual batteries inside. Wouldn't that make things much easier than having to schedule eight hours of sleep every night?
The glare and artificial shine on the batteries were well done too, and whoever did this even added a battery cover that matches this person's skin, which is a nice touch.
This Kangaroo Pouch Fits Adults, Too
This is one of the harder ones for us to look at. It's not particularly grotesque or anything, so maybe it's only hard to look at because of how real the painting actually looks. The artist created a pouch on the woman's stomach with what appears to be a human head poking out of it. The depth the artist managed to capture around the pouch is really incredible if you look closely.
We're not exactly sure why, but this just gives us the creeps. The way the woman's pouch seems to extrude and come into the foreground is also a little unsettling. But we can't look away.
Nothing's More Annoying Than Having Two Zippers
Similar to the buttons we saw incorporated into an earlier body painting, this depiction of a zipper is incredibly realistic. And not only that, but the artist added another layer inside the first one. While we're absolutely in awe of this artist's abilities, this is still a little creepy and reminds us of one of those sci-fi tropes where aliens crawl inside human bodies to fit in with the population. Then again, maybe that's why we love it so much.
What only adds to the eeriness is the fact that we can't see the actual zipper of the inside one; it seems like it's just slowly tearing open.
Genie In The Lamp
This artist managed to get really inventive with this painting, even though it mainly uses only one color. Using black paint, the artist made it appear as if the woman was a genie coming out of a lamp, like a certain genie we are used to in Disney's Aladdin. And considering what it is, it's all rather convincing. You can't even see the outlines of where the woman's body should be.
This is a really cool rendition of a classic character we grew up with. We just wish we could rub the lamp and get our wishes.
She'll Never Forget to Feed These Fish
This is one of our personal favorites. An artist managed to turn this woman's face into an aquarium that somehow appears translucent. It's like you are actually peering inside this model's head and can see straight through. The artist even managed to make it look like the top portion of her head is hollow. The model's nose is also excellently hidden among fish and the plant life at the bottom of the tank as well.
While this is not a part of the actual image, the artist also did a good job of incorporating facial features outside the tank. The bright-red lipstick really pulls everything together.
Another Peek Into The Universe
Similar to the last photo, this photo seems to show another look at a faraway place in the universe. Although it's a different style, it's no less creative. Like much of the work on the list, the depth the artist added here just takes the painting to another level. It really looks as if you are peering into a depression in the model's back. Or maybe some form of square portal.
There is another similarity with the last post here as well. It seems to be the same model used in both photos. You can tell because they both have the same tattoo on the upper right side of their shoulder blade.
Sliced up Like a Loaf of Bread
Here is another optical illusion that makes our brains hurt the longer we stare at it. The artist breaks up this model's face into strips, making it kind of hard to tell where the real features begin and the painted features end. This is especially the case around the woman's eyes and chin. And while this isn't as freaky as some of the other photos we've seen, it certainly has a psychoanalysis vibe to it.
It kind of feels like the artist is inviting you in to make your own interpretations here. However, this could just be us reading too far into the positioning of the strips.
A Portal to Another World
Another example of what a body painting artist can do to transport a viewer into another space, this photo is similar to some we have already covered but also distinctly different. Instead of ripping skin, we're treated to levitating geometry that really seems to pop and come into the foreground. The colorwork between those shapes is really nice as well and gives you the sense of looking directly at this idyllic scene.
However, the artist still leaves a bit of room for interpretation and mystery. The lake scene in the background is kind of enchanting and left us staring for a while, trying to figure out if there was anything more to this piece.
The First Human Giraffe We've Seen
Apart from the detailed elements of a giraffe (the excellent painted-on coat patterns, the tail), we really enjoyed this painting for the way it incorporates the human form and makes it even look almost majestic. We would've never thought of using a person's leg to represent a giraffe's neck. It's actually pretty amazing how similar we can make the human body to a giraffe's body.
We can see this presented at fancy fundraisers for wildlife. That would surely raise a lot of money.
We'll see a couple of examples of artists taking advantage of eye placement throughout these posts, but this is definitely one of our favorites. It's a simple enough concept, but it's still pretty freaky-looking nonetheless. The artist painted an extra eye on this woman's cheek and made her cover her real eye with one of her hands, which makes for a strange optical illusion. The strangest part is that we can't seem to take our own eyes off this image.
Half this trick is basically just hand placement. The woman is actually using her other hand to cover up her cheek where apparently the other eye would be if it was real.
This artist really went all out with this full-body painting. The piece incorporates a couple of different animals like seahorses and squid. However, we think the most impressive part of this work is the detail around the face. It almost looks as if the model is wearing a mask. The fins or gills seem to protrude out of the model's face, and we're not exactly sure how they were able to pull this off.
Apart from that, the details incorporated into the animals and the light around the arms are pretty impressive too, and we imagine it had to take hours to fully finish this painting.
Someone Burnt Her Heart to Pieces
This artist managed to create an illusion of something seemingly ripping through the skin and lighting the surrounding area of this model's body on fire. As far as grotesque images go on this list, this one is pretty tame. We also like the extra effort the artist took to show bruising around the wound. It adds believability to the image.
However, instead of being an impact puncture, the hole looks as if it exploded outward. So, maybe the penetration of whatever was supposed to cause this came in through the other side.
We're All Connected to Each Other
Another aquatic-themed body painting, this model's positioning skills are almost as impressive as the body art itself. However, we imagine that they probably just painted this while the model was lying down, and she may be in that position only to take the photo. We also really enjoy the style of this painting and the colors, which along with the all-white background, give this painting a sort of dreamy feeling.
For some reason, this also makes us wonder how cool it would be if there were actually human-sized seahorses swimming about under the ocean. But that is neither here nor there.
Can You Guess The Vegetable?
This photo is pretty amazing for a couple of reasons. Not only does it look incredibly realistic, but how exactly is one person holding up three other people? The details in these full-body designs are striking as well. It really looks like one giant piece of broccoli. The artist managed to recreate everything from the sheen on the stalk to the spongy top. The use of white to act to add depth is especially impressive.
As are the slight ridges and the way the paint makes it look like light is bouncing off the different angles. Whoever put together this masterpiece is certainly skilled.
Solving The Puzzle
There is a lot going on in this image. The artist incorporated a full-fledged maze when painting this woman's body. We could probably spend all day trying to solve this puzzle, but luckily we know where to start. If you look closely, you can see some writing on the upper-left side of her chest as well. Maybe in Latin? Opposite the script, we can see straight through to the model's heart, which is a really cool touch.
All of these different pieces come together to give this image a sort of mystic feeling. That's not even mentioning the details and shadows the artist pulled off around the model's facial features.
Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover
Someone managed to pull off a super-realistic optical illusion by painting just a few lines on this man's face. The depth and detail this artist was able to achieve are really astonishing. Even the hand placement is on point. If you stare at the image for too long, it kind of sucks you in and makes you forget that you're not really looking at a painted image of the man's face.
It's kind of crazy this all of this was achieved just through simple lines and shadows. But that just goes to show how skilled many of these body-painting artists actually are.
We're Lost in Her Maze
Like the last post, this artist was somehow able to completely erase this model's facial features. But they did it without using so much black paint. The maze painted on this woman's face is impressive for a couple of reasons. Once again, this artist managed to capture a certain degree of depth in their shadows, but we suspect they also used the black space to take advantage of natural intentions in this model's facial features.
Somehow managing to incorporate the rest of the model's face into the painting is pretty cool as well. The only thing that kind of does not fit here is the hand.
All Wound Up
Speaking of cartoonish figures, this has got to be one of the best illusions on the list. From the neon-colored hair and rope to the comically scrunched-up face, it's pretty impressive what this artist was able to accomplish with body paint. The woman literally looks like she is being constrained in this photo, but not in a gruesome way. It kind of reminds us of the movie, Who Killed Roger Rabbit.
It even has the kind of cartoon noir vibe of the film. The black paint and wrinkles around the pink rope really work to bring this piece to life and show off just what can be accomplished when a talented artist decides to use the human body as a canvas.
Missing a Few Pieces
Similar to some of the first images we took a look at, this artist incorporated blocks in order to scramble this woman's facial features. However, they combined that with the amazingly dark black paint we have seen in previous work. The result is really rather cool and makes for a trippy piece of art. While one eye has been completely lost, the other looks nearly untouched and adds a sense of realism to this painting.
We also like the way the artist managed to add depth to the blocks and make them appear as if they are just floating all over the place, waiting to be reassembled.
A Hole In The Head
As far as illusions go, this might be one of the best on the list. This artist managed to completely erase this women's face using what we can only imagine is paint harvested from a black hole somehow. But, they didn't just stop there and added depth to the hole that makes it look like you are staring into the inside of someone's skull. Honestly, this photo might be a lot less creepy if not for the blood-colored insides.
We're still amazed by how the black just seems to completely erase any trace of this person's facial features. But, when you start to think about the science behind colors, it shouldn't come as such as surprise.
Yeah, you read that right. We never knew someone could make a banana look so elegant. This ultra-realistic painting of a banana may not be very deep, but it was certainly very hard to achieve on a technical level. It's kind of like the classic bowls of fruit you sometimes see artists draw. The peels even incorporate the wrinkles in the model's knuckles and almost give life to the painting.
The shading and color are also on point. Bananas might not be the most serious topic to paint, but somehow this artist managed to capture the fruit in their own unique way.
A Third Eye That Holds All the Wisdom
There is not much to see here, just an ultra-realistic eye painted onto someone's hand. The eye in this photo is similar to others we've seen in style. But, the artist who did this painting managed to up the detail. Stare into it long enough, and it's like you're really staring into someone else's eyes or eye. The puffiness is there, the bags around the eye are there, and the artist even managed to capture the eyelashes.
In fact, the longer you stare at this image, the more you just end up waiting for the eye to blink. Whoever painted this really had some talent for body art.
Another optical illusion that utilizes a set of eyes, this artist painted a beautiful and realistic face on someone's hand. Unlike some of the other depictions of faces on this list, this one also appears to be friendly. The artist did a pretty good job with this relatively small piece, managing to capture a lot of details around the eyes. It even looks more and more real the longer you stare at it.
The shading helps blend the image in with the surrounding hand and adds a bit of depth to create bags underneath the eyes and intentions around the nose of the character.
Don't Forget Your 3D Glasses
This simple yet ingenious body painting is actually meant to be viewed while wearing 3D glasses. Apparently, this woman came up with the idea and, only using red and blue lines, managed to draw out an image that pops out when wearing the glasses. This is pretty cool, and even if you're not wearing 3D glasses, if you stare at the line long enough, they seem to shift the model's facial features.
It's also just a cool image to look at without glasses. But, this definitely scores a 10 out of 10 when it comes to creativity. It also gets bonus points for nostalgia.
Just Like a Circus
This is not your typical clown paint seen at every Halloween party. This artist went above and beyond to recreate all of the traditional circus imagery and tie it all together. From the stars on the woman's face to the frilled collar, this painting is pretty awesome to look at. Whoever did this painting even added to the theme by giving the model two faces in a sense: one traditional and one a bit creepy.
However, the gold details are what really make this painting shine because what is a circus without pomp and glamor? The flakes are like the icing on top in this photo.