This year's theme for the Phoenix Comicon Bodypainting Extravaganza was "DROIDS". All of the artists were enthusiastic about this theme and again this year every painting was unique and original but the whole group looked cohesive. We were comprised of seven wonderful models painted by seven fantastic artists. In the advertisement that I made above you can see each of the artists shown above the models that they painted. I selected Nikki Darling to be my model this year. I had recently worked with her for the Ravenous bodypainting at the Art of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Comics event at the Alwun House and I was thrilled that she was available and up for the challenge again. Artist Brandon McGill worked with our only male model, Tyler Monzingo, again this year. I unfortunately missed Comicon in 2016, so this was the first time that I got to meet these two, but I saw the pictures and they knocked it out of the park last year with a stilt-walking Cathulu. Artists Papi Miranda and Vanessa Sophia Robertson have been involved in every bodypainting extravaganza (2014 - "Goddesses", 2015 - "Aliens", and 2016 - "Tales Retold"). Papi's model was once again Michelle Gamboa who he has worked with for the past two events. Vanessa was paired up with model Megan Brock (MegB Unlimited!) who I had worked with on the "Aliens" project and the Piano bodypainting on the cover of my first book. We had a very special guest this year with artist Mythica von Griffyn who was a contestant on the first season of Skin Wars. Mythica flew in from Colorado and we were so glad she was able to bring her unique character to our event. I paired her up with model Alexandria Marie (aka AlliGator Girl) who is the only model to have been painted in every extravaganza. Husband and wife team of Eric Simmons and Holly Shoemaker were back for their third extravaganza appearance with models Shannon Shepard (her first extravaganza) and Vanessa Ferrales (her second).
Once the team was assembled I began the planning with the staff of Phoenix Comicon who have always been absolutely wonderful to work with. We had typically done our shows on Friday nights, but this year it was more conducive to hold it on a Saturday night. This put us up against the wildly popular Masqerade Contest, but it seems like we were able to still draw a crowd. They put us in three ballroom spaces (106ABC) which has seating for 487 people and we were told that the line was so long to get in that some people at the end of the line were told that we were going to be over capacity and that they wouldn't be able to get in. Wow, that's a lot of people! Below is the plot layout of the room and where each artist was on stage.
For the background, I wanted to have something that was a little bit more than just a plain black or white drape this time, but I also didn't have time or money to invest in something too elaborate. I took a trip to Michael's and bought seven pool floats and painted them white. I added some propellers and vents from toys and Home Depot supplies and hung them on a new photo stand for backdrops. I think it worked out OK, but I didn't paint the propellers since they actually had LED lights in them, but in hindsight the pinks and purples kinda' clashed so in photoshop I have been turning them white. Here are some individual shots of each of the paintings that I shot.
First up is my painting of Nikki. I did try to keep my design pretty simple since I knew that I would have less time than the others since I was hosting the event and doing the photography. The initial intent was to leave her skin color intact and only paint the lines and shadowing at the joints I created. I ended up putting a clear coat of glitter and a subtle spray of gold on her that gave a metallic sheen. The SPFX that I added was an idea that I had had for quite a few years working with lifecast artist Byur Gullwing. The idea was to have a cast made of a models breasts that could be held by the model to emulate a "panel" had been removed from her chest. I asked Gullwing to square off the edges and make it small enough to look like she would be opening a hinged panel (kinda' like the hood of a car). The idea behind the blue brain that was painted "inside" was that we may be able to transplant our brains someday into a droid and continue to "live" long past the time limits imposed by our human bodies (a little homage to "I Will Fear No Evil" by Robert A. Heinlein.
Next is Eric Simmons bodypainted droid on model Shannon Shepard. Eric has a knack for holding the surprise to the bitter end the pulls it all together. This time he was painting a mostly white armor suit with black joints that was heading in the direction of a stormtrooper theme. Then I turn away for a moment and BAM he adds the helmet and I thrilled to see a droid as the ones painted by Sorayamma. Then leave it to Shannon to nail all of the pinup poses that seal the deal. Fantastic!
Holly's painting of Vanessa was a character named "Rusty the Robot". Holly said, "I set out to create an older, decrepit looking robot. As if the "creator" at one point viewed her as his greatest creation and she was eventually forgotten and left to rust. I couldn't have asked for a better model in Vanessa." The colors and the textures in this painting are top notch. I especially liked the weathering. Vanessa did an awesome job acting the part too for all of the photographers.
Papi is the master of the airbrush and once again demonstrated his skills with the droid painting on Michelle. I thought this design would fit in perfectly to a new character for the Marvel Universe. The laser blasters on her hands were a very nice touch and it looks like she could melt diamonds with her ice blue eyes.
Brandon brought a tornado of color and the most robust set of special effects prosthetics to his droid, played by Ty. Brandon commented, "Combining the whimsical, creepy, and the colorful, @Tyler Monzingo and I set out to create a colorful Claw Machine that is as cute as it is dangerous." The eyes in the head piece were especially cool in real life (the pictures really don't do this piece justice). This one brought back a memory of how much I liked the movie The Iron Giant. Very cool.
And then along came Mythica with very subtle shout out to C3PO with the red arm on a glistening gold droid. This is the droid you were looking for! Alexandria modeled with two colors of eye contacts inside a glued on prosthetic goggle and kept smiling through it all. What a trooper.
Finally the last of the line up was the wonderfully colorful and electrically charged MegB droid painted by the spectacular Vanessa. Again the eye contacts that could literally pierce into your soul brought this character to another level. This was such a fun design that also allowed you to see inside the droids outer shell.
All in all, I think everybody had a great time and there were no big "issues" that any of us had to deal with. There are a lot of photographers that have posted images that they shot of this event on their personal social media sites. Here is one shot of all of the painted models with their artists that was taken at the end of the evening that was taken by photographer Stephen Fellheimer.
Here is one more picture of Nikki opening her front panel. Please contact me if you are interested in getting prints from this event or if you are curious to know more details about the event. If all goes as planned we'll be back again next year with another great lineup and a new theme. Enjoy!
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