How to make yourself a Jaguar with stencils and an airbrush

Sketching out the idea
Sketching out the idea

The process of creating 13 vivacious jaguars…

Last week I got together with a couple of women to discuss the possibility of air-brushing full body makeup Jaguar costumes. We had a photo for inspiration and some ideas about how to use templates – to create the desired outcome. Why Jaguars? The theme is in honor of the upcoming Lucidity Festival event. If you are inspired by the Goddess Grove Jaguars – check out the event page for more photos etc. Step 1 was brainstorming and sketching out ideas. We made a plan and divided up the work of creating templates and collecting supplies. we had 2 days to prepare and estimated 4 hours before the event to paint 13 women.

Creating the template

Step 2 was designing the vector drawing. The Jaguar has spots that are brown with black rosette shapes on top. If you’re not familiar with the big cat family, there are 3 similar cats, so the challenge was to create a pattern specific to the Jaguar. I used adobe illustrator to create matching templates that, when layered together, create the effect. The spots go from large to small and taper down to a point. The template is about 5″ wide by 18″ long. Just perfect for the shoulder to wrist length.

spotsStep 3 was creating the templates. My friends over at Kim and Jim Graphics had the idea to print the black and brown spot files on paper and then paint them to be waterproof. We tried using a plotter and considered vinyl options as well – but in the end the simple solution was the most accessible. The template has to withstand the water based airbrushed paint without dissolving.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Airbrushing Jaguar Goddesses

Step 4 was the paint application. We started with a base coat of gold. The nest step was to apply the brown layer of large spots, followed by the matching template of black rosettes. Some brown was also added for effect around the face etc. We did spots down both arms, down the back and chest, plus a 3rd template the forehead. The Final step was to customize each look with makeup. We had a photographer, Shad, to help us document the process.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


After all the dots were perfect and the costumes finished we headed off to the party at SoHo. There we joined a ton of other creative activities in celebration of the ticket release for Lucidity 2013. For more images of the party, check out DNA imagery on Facebook.


Whats else?

I was inspired by the opportunity to create a painting based on the Jaguar goddess. I sketched out a composition in paint the day before. I start creative ideas by sketching them out in paint first – just letting it flow naturally. After the event I created a video as a reference for the painting – using 3 real women. (Below is my video). As I discussed in my last AICC episode, I’m experimenting with using video as a drawing reference. Now that I have a composition and a reference, the next step is to figure out the detail in an iPad vector version. Follow along if you want to see how it develops!