A Virtual Exhibit: 45 Jaw-Dropping 3D Body Paint Illusions That Will Astound You

By Valentine W

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who understand and appreciate the arts and those who don’t care for it at all. Which category do you belong to? If you’re unsure, we recommend that you hold off on picking a position until you have had an experience you would describe as ‘artful.’ Today’s focus will be on painting. 3D body painting illusions, to be exact. A form of art that has been around for a few years now. Artists specializing in this genre use the human body as a canvas to create phenomenal optical illusions. So, whether you understand art or not, we can assure you that these slides are an experience you don’t want to miss. Just sit back and enjoy the show.

Social Battery Low

We are sure you have either heard, read, or even said these words before. It’s an expression used to say that someone is not in the mood to socialize. For most introverts, who generally thrive on and enjoy being alone, hanging around people for a long time can feel draining.

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This very realistic example of 3D body paint aptly portrays the idea of having a ‘social battery’ that can run out and need to be recharged at will. For those of us who are introverted, this would be a complete game-changer.

A Multicolor of a Mollusk Underwater

We would have believed it if someone told us that she was wearing a unitard and a mask. The precision and detail in this body painting of an octopus and seahorses in the sea are incredible. The body paint on the arms that depicts the exoskeleton of mollusks made the whole piece even more spectacular.

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This is a truly gifted artist and we can only shudder when we think how long it must have taken them to complete the whole painting. Takes a lot of patience from the person acting as the canvas and the artist.

The Tallest Terrestrial Mammal

Another painting of an animal. This one, however, is even more awesome. To create the illusion of a giraffe, the human canvas has to maintain a particular pose. Judging by the complicated posture she has to keep, we think it’s safe to assume that she probably does a lot of yoga and other stretching exercises.

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It is very evident from the painting itself that body placement and performance are a big part of 3D body paint illusions. One wrong move or sneeze during the pose could put everything in disarray and ruin the whole outcome.

Literal Heartburn

The burning sensation you feel when you have heartburn is nothing compared to being burnt by an open flame. Though this painting is not in the exact position where heartburn formulates, its placement brings to mind the idea of one.

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It would also be a perfect representation of passion. The thing (or person) that makes you feel alive and makes your heart burn. One of the many beauties of art is that it’s open to personal interpretation. You just roll with whatever speaks to you.

King of Camouflage

Chameleons are one of the most prominent masters of disguise that nature has to offer. Apart from that exciting phenomenon, they also have eyes that move independently of each other and long sticky tongues that help them grab bugs for food.

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It’s no wonder that this artist decided to settle on this fascinating reptile for this piece. Just like the giraffe painting, this is another optical illusion where the human body was used as a canvas to display a very realistic painting of an animal. Took us a minute to spot the lady. Can you see her?

A Rare Beauty

The tiger is known as the largest and strongest of all cats. Even more muscular than the famous king of the jungle, the lion. It’s so sad then that there are only a few tigers left in the world currently, with the biggest threat to their survival being us, humans.

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With that said, an exceptionally talented artist made this exceptional masterpiece of a tiger’s face. The painting was done with the help of three models who had to strip to let the master create this beauty. The outcome was well worth the wait.

Laced Up and Ready to Go

Transforming something to 3-dimensional can be a challenge to most people. It requires a lot of knowledge and practice on shadows, placement, and size, among many other aspects. Once you master it, however, your imagination is the only thing that stops you.

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For example, in the painting here, you can see how the artist put all that and so much more into creating this very realistic image of a foot with laces. Unlike most of the entries we’ll see, this piece didn’t require a solid black or solid white background to create a 3D illusion, making it even more impressive.

Half Glamour, Half Goth

While we are all aware of the transformational power of makeup, we bet many of you didn’t know that makeup is not a big part of body paint illusions. Most of the paint used by artists when creating body paintings is usually acrylic or water-based.

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However, when painting around the face, most of them prefer to use makeup which is a bit friendlier to that part of the body. The artist responsible for this job undoubtedly went above and beyond to create something extraordinary using everyday makeup items.

Too Hot For Comfort

The concept of a melting flower was unheard of before this image was taken. Frankly, it’s one of those things we never knew we needed until they existed. Creating something this beautiful and unique is something worthy of a million-dollar prize.

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As you can see, the artist here used solid black paint and a black background to make the illusion more believable. We also love the white flower pot at the bottom. It took the whole painting up a higher notch.

The model with Multiple Eyes

When we look at this face (faces?) we get the feeling that we are looking at the reflection of a face in water that is experiencing a ripple effect. The only problem with that assessment is that the ripple only seems to be affecting the right side of the model’s face.

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Hence, the four eyes are a genuinely disturbing and albeit curious image on one side of the face. The artist here clearly knows how to use makeup well enough to create such an elaborate illusion. We can barely draw a wing on one eye, let alone an extra four.

Multicolored Human Glow Stick

This has to be the most colorful face painting we have ever seen. While most people usually stick to simple designs for face painting, this artist decided to go a different way. A decision that undeniably made us all happy.

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From this picture, we can appreciate the attention to detail and how the painting is continuous, even to the hair. You can feel movement despite the model being still. This is the kind of dedication that inspires people to change sides and become lovers of art.

A Complicated Maze

When you look at this model’s face, you can’t help but appreciate the spectacular blending job the artist did when creating this painting. Her facial features are so well hidden that you can’t be bothered to look for them. Does she even have eyes?

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This painting perfectly illustrates that all-important saying, ‘The devil is in the details.’ A thorough job at blending will certainly uplift an illustration. The maze idea itself was also fascinating. Seeing it actualized into a flawless painting like this must have been a thrill.

Building Blocks of a Face

Behold, the exceptionally talented creator. This next painting is one of the many optical illusions created by the South Korean artist Dain Yoon. Her work as an artist is even more impressive when you learn that she does these paintings on her own face.

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We can only imagine how much patience and dedication it takes to complete each piece. This painting, for example, took 2 hours to complete. A considerably shorter timeframe compared to most. We are genuinely in awe of her incredible genius.

Misplaced Eye

This has to be among the more straightforward and less complicated paintings we are going to feature. Regardless, we have to admit that it can give you a bit of a chill the first time you look at it. An eye on the cheekbone is not something you see every day.

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In a world where most people own a camera or a camera phone and photo editing software is available for free, it’s easy to ignore the importance and beauty of a simple painting. It’s therefore essential to learn to appreciate creations done by artists.

There are Layers to This Face

Here is another artist who does paintings on her own face. Mimi Choi is a Vancouver-based artist who uses makeup to create elaborate illusions on her face. The illustration below, for example, is very trippy and can have you second-guessing yourself.

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By using only makeup, Mimi Choi created an illusion that made her face look like it had been sliced and could, at any time, be stretched to reveal new layers underneath. Painting her facial features in twos also made it look like someone had stretched her face.

A Homage to Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh is a world-famous Dutch painter who died in 1890. He has one of the most revered legacies in the art world. As with most artists of all mediums, his work gained even more popularity after his death.

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One of his most recognizable pieces, The Starry Night, is an oil painting of the night sky over a village he did less than a year before he died. This artist did a fantastic job of recreating the famous image on the human body. Something we are sure was no small feat—a befitting homage to a legend.

A Cartoon Brought to Life

In the world of cartoons, bizarre things can happen to the body with no threat of injury. For example, fingers can be tied into knots, and the body can be flattened after being run over, among other ridiculous scenarios. This next painting brings to mind one of those scenes.

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To create such an illusion, artists use a variety of brushes, makeup, and body paint. An essential step in this creation is the use of black color on the edges to create negative space. Also equally important is the pose. That sells the whole illusion.

Talk to the Hand

This mesmerizing illusion is the work of an unbelievable Japanese artist named Hikaru Cho. The 29-year-old has been creating striking body paintings from a young age and has even collaborated with organizations like Amnesty International for a global non-profit campaign.

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As you can see, she is very talented. This painting of a face on the back of the hand is so realistic that you would think it was a photo. Even more impressive is that the face appears to be well made up despite it being a painting.

Body Painting Meets Big Brands

Another one of Hikaru’s masterpieces. Also, the first male model we have featured in this collection. She created this particular painting to promote the Samsung Galaxy S6 in 2015. She designed this and many other techniques to portray the features of the phone.

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This particular idea was inspired by the phone’s thin, sleek design, thus the illusion of a flat face. Though the result may appear simple, creating such a realistic and brilliant illusion requires a lot of techniques that this artist clearly possesses. We hope they wrote her a big fat cheque for a job well done.

The Face with Missing Pieces

A solid black background will do wonders for a 3D body paint illusion. The perfect example to reiterate this fact is this next slide. Without a black background, this painting wouldn’t inspire the kind of reaction it does. Another thing that this artist has perfected is shading.

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Shading and blending are critical aspects of creating 3-dimensional objects, be it drawings or paintings. They create depth and dimension. With these and more techniques and the right tools, paints, and makeup, this artist created a hypnotizing illusion. We are utterly lost in her eye.

A Twist on a Face-splitting Grin

A very disconcerting illusion made by a makeup artist. You always read about someone sporting a face-splitting grin in books as an expression, but you don’t give it much thought. You just figure that it means having a big smil, which it does.

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For some reason, when we first saw this, that expression was among the first things that came to our minds. This gifted makeup artist clearly has a touch for the terrifying side of 3D body painting. We hope she continues to thrill and shock us with more of these.

Red and Blue Wonder

This is hands down one of the most unique entries in the collection. While the creation itself is not as elaborate or complicated as most of the others are, we still appreciate how much work it went into making it.

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When asked about their creative process, most artists will say that coming up with the concept is the most challenging part. It takes a lot of time and can be very frustrating. This makeup artist came up with something unique that transformed a face into a fantastic piece of art.

The Mouth, the Heart, and the Mind

If you ever doubted that makeup was an art form, this piece will dispel those notions. Just one look at this picture, and you can appreciate how much work went into this. The artist responsible for this genius posted the image on social media as part of a collection of Halloween makeup ideas.

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If you can’t find the perfect costume for Halloween next time, you can always consider body painting and makeup for an unforgettable look. Fun fact: following the paths on the maze will lead you either to the mouth, heart, or mind. Try it.

Backs with Incredible Views

Sometimes when you can’t afford a dream beach vacation, it might be easier for you (and your pocket) to just get an artist to paint one on your back. If you can’t go to the ocean, bring the ocean to you. At least that’s what we think when looking at this painting.

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It’s impressive to see such beautiful concepts and ideas brought to life. The painting itself is so realistic that it makes us want to throw all caution to the wind and set off to the nearest beach destination. Who is coming?

A Stunning Seahorse

Before we comment on anything else, we have to take a moment to recognize the model who had to maintain this pose to create this illusion. It must have taken her many years of practice to achieve this kind of expertise.

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Some of us can’t even manage to maintain the simple downward dog pose in yoga. With that said, the whole painting wouldn’t be what it is without the gifted artist. The two of them created a phenomenal illusion that we all get to marvel at.

Now That’s A Stretch

It’s surprising and shocking the kind of creations you can make with the right makeup supplies. Makeup artists all over the world are defying all odds by charting different paths in the relatively new world of 3D body painting illusions.

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With a few makeup brushes, concealers, highlighters, and the human body as a canvas, these artists have discovered that they can find a form of artistic expression that is not limited to enhancing people’s looks. This illusion, for example, is a shocking new take on the horror side of body illusions.

Shere Khan Strikes Again

For those who enjoyed Rudyard Kipling’s, The Jungle Book, you will automatically get this reference. For the unfortunate few who have not, we would highly recommend reading it or at least watching the movie adaptation of the same name, tonight!

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We promise you won’t regret it. In the book, Shere Khan is an arrogant Bengal tiger who sees himself as the king of the jungle. When we look at this painting, it reminds us of him. This artist created a stunning depiction of a tiger on the back of a man. Can you see him?

A ‘Heady’ Fish Bowl

This looks like it was a very complicated look to create. We can’t get over how real the whole thing looks. Despite the absurdity that a head could contain a fishbowl, the painting of the bowl itself, the fish, and the water is awe-inspiring.

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Just so you know, the artist, Mimi Choi used makeup to create this look. With the help of her very own illusion palette that she created, she has made so many more complicated paintings that continue to boggle our minds.

A Buttoned-up Tummy

This next one can only be described by one word. Incredible. The attention to detail when painting the stitches, uniformity of the buttons, and the blending and shading to create the illusion of depth are all nothing short of amazing.

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If we were asked to capture the definition of artistic talent, this picture would be among the top contenders. We think that if this man decided to walk out on the street with no shirt on, it would take a long time before someone noticed that he wasn’t wearing a shirt.

Giant Hole in the Face

Another entry for the creepy and horrifying corner of body illusions. So far, we don’t think we have come across anything scarier. It looks as if someone took a box-cutter, carefully cut around this woman’s face, and removed a huge chunk of whatever was in the center.

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This is one of those illusions that wouldn’t have been as memorable without the proper setting of negative space. The black paint and the red on the side of the hole are the most essential parts of the whole painting.

The Cosmos

As much as we loved the previous slide, this next one is even more impressive. The universe, and more specifically, space, has always been a fascinating phenomenon to man. Since the beginning of time, people have been drawing and painting the moon, stars, and other elements of outer space.

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They hold a lot of significance for those of us living on the terrestrial plane. However, of all the representations we have seen before, this one on the back of a woman’s body has to be the best yet. It’s so close to the real thing.

This Illusion is Bananas

Simply looking at these photos makes us hungry. We are suddenly in the mood for a banana or two. That just goes to show how realistic the painting is. This extraordinary piece is the product of two exceptional artists: painter, Annie Ralli, and photographer, Ray Massey.

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Believe it or not, it was done as part of an advertisement for an insurance company. This only emphasizes how important photography is in the world of body illusions. Getting the photo taken right could make all the difference for your painting.

See-through Tummy

Hand-held showerheads have become a favorite to many people due to their many advantages over the common stationary ones. In addition to conserving water, people also love them because they help you get cleaner easier since you can direct the water wherever you want.

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It’s also friendlier to the elderly and disabled. However, it seems that this artist has discovered an even easier way to manipulate the hand-held showerhead. On a serious note, though, she made this incredible illusion using acrylic paints, and we are all here for it.

Incredible Spine Zipper

This certainly puts a fresh twist on the expression ‘Zip it.’ Our favorite thing about this painting is the illusion of depth created by the artist after the outer zip. It makes you think that there’s another zipper under the one on the outside.

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Choo San, the talented artist behind this piece, has mastered the art of 3-dimension objects. This is one of those paintings that requires a double-take when you come across it. Honestly, we secretly wish we could create such incredible art.

Stack of Books on the Back

For book lovers and students worldwide, this would be a gem. Books can be cumbersome to lug around. It’s the whole reason why school lockers and wheeled backpacks exist these days. We think that the artist who came up with this concept might have been a victim of this exhausting task.

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We have to give them props for this creation. The books look so real it’s hard to imagine they were drawn on a flat surface. However, we wouldn’t advise stacking up your books this precariously. They are too valuable and expensive to repair.

National Bird of Honduras

Did you know that the scarlet macaw is the official bird of Honduras? Well, now you know. This large, majestic bird is among the most intelligent birds in the world, and thus, we aren’t surprised that someone paid homage to it with this illusion.

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Both the artist and the model did a very commendable job of portraying the scarlet macaw which we can guess must have taken them hours to complete and shoot. The only thing missing from the illusion is an audio of the bird mimicking a human being.

Nature Scenes and 3D Tattoos

Believe it or not, this is a tattoo. Unlike the other paintings we have featured here where the artist uses paint and makeup that is easily removable, this particular one is a permanent fixture on the guy’s back. If you decide to get a 3D tattoo, we suggest getting a memorable one that will stun people speechless.

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That seems to be the approach this man followed because this tattoo done by the legendary Jesse Rix, is spectacular. With 3D becoming as popular as it is now, it was only a matter of time before tattoo artists caught up to the craze.

Giant Fork

This disturbing yet incredible painting of a giant fork is the work of Serbian makeup artist Mirjana Milosevic. Mirjana, more commonly known as Kika, is an award-winning artist who has a big social media following that she entertains with her numerous body painting illusions.

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This is the most mind-boggling one we have come across. You can’t even tell that it’s drawn on a human body at first glance. She achieved this look by centering the whole painting between her neck and waist and proceeded to cover up the rest of her body with black paint. After that, she posed in front of a solid black background, and voila!

Human Marsupial

We all know of the group of mammals known as marsupials, famous for being the only animals with pouches. This group consisting of kangaroos, wallabies, and the Tasmanian devil among others, has this unique feature for the early development of newborns.

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Seeing as the pouch is a distinct feature only present in this class of animals, it was very shocking to come across this painting of a pouch on a woman’s belly. The addition of a man’s head popping out made it even more disturbing.

Cartoon Meets Creepy

From disturbing to straight-up scary. If we were to run into someone who had this painted on their face, we wouldn’t hesitate to sprint away from them while yelling at the top of our lungs. This has to be the scariest illusion we have seen so far.

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Forget the rest that we described as disturbing or creepy. This one takes the cake. We hope that whoever painted this didn’t walk around scaring unsuspecting individuals out of their wits after the job was completed. Though it was a good idea for a Halloween costume, we would hate to see it in real life.

Artsy Olympics

This spectacular hand painting illusion is another piece from Annie Ralli and Ray Massey’s collection. We have to hand it to whoever birthed this concept as far as originality goes. When you first glance at this picture, you automatically get the sense that something is not quite right.

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However, it takes a while before you finally piece everything together and recognize that the two athletes are two hands with painted vests assuming athletes’ postures on a track. We are especially impressed by how they hid the rest of the arms in the painting. It makes the illusion more believable.

Face Jenga

Now, this is the literal definition of working on yourself. Make one wrong move, and your whole look falls apart. Judging by the amount of detail in this photo, it must have taken the artist hours to complete. The tricky part about body painting illusions is that they have a very short lifespan.

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It’s easy for them to run, primarily if you use makeup to create them, or get ruined by heat or sweat since the canvas is the human body. Mostly, artists complete the painting and then focus on how to capture it best in a photo and that’s it. For this particular one, the artist nailed it.

I’m Watching You

This one’s a bit on the disconcerting side. Imagine shaking someone’s hand and then bending down to look at it only to find an eye staring back at you. What would be your first reaction? We would release that hand so fast you would think it was a hot bowl of soup and run for the hills.

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Part of the reason it is so disturbing is that it looks so natural. Ironically, that’s also why we consider it a very notable body paint illusion. From its looks, it seems that the artist skillfully combined paints and makeup to achieve this memorable illusion of an eye.


There are two significant aspects of body painting illusions that make this particular one stand out. First is the blending of the neck and upper parts of the shoulders to the black background of the picture. This crucial step that creates negative space makes a huge difference in how real an illusion can look.

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The other thing is the pose the model, who is also the artist, chose. She made her eyes look as if they were stretched during the painful-looking twist is simply amazing. Ines Kus, the artist behind this illusion, has made numerous, almost similar, pieces that are just as remarkable.

Genie in a Lamp

Disney fans will love this one. Even for those who aren’t fans, chances are you have heard of the genie who lives in an old lamp that grants you three wishes if you let him out of it. The story is from a collection of magical tales from the Middle East.

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It was adapted into animation and later live-action film named Alladin by Disney. The genie in the story is a blue, mystical creature like the one pictured. It’s so hard to believe that we are looking at a body painting and not a real genie. We would have loved to get the three wishes.