Art has always been an expression of movement. From the prehistoric parietal art to contemporary artists, art has chronicled our most intimate moments in mediums that transcends space and time.
Cosplay is an expression of art. It’s toiled passion transformed into wearable works of art, crafted with dedication, devotion, and most importantly, admiration. It is transforming your favourite childhood memories, glued to television screens and comic books envisioning yourself wearing Superman tights or concealed in a clandestine corrugated cardboard box.
Much as art has evolved, so has cosplay. Costumes are more intricate, the fervour of displaying your artistic craftsmanship is at an all time high. With the likes of industry titans like Jessica Nigri and Lindsay Elyse, cosplay has broken through the proverbial glass ceiling, reaching new heights. Predominantly into body paint cosplay. Body painting takes cosplay to new levels, using intricate artistry to reveal levels of depth in well-placed brush strokes and not-so-subtle movements of sexuality.
Body paint is one of the coolest wearable pieces of art there is. It hides nothing and reveals all. It is stripped down varieties of your favourite video game characters artistically drawn to display the cosplayer’s finest “attributes” in their full glory.
The beauties listed below are some of the most alluring specimen in the world, and most certainly in the cosplay community, making them the perfect canvases to display artistic form in its rawest form.
Beauty after all, is wonderfully skin deep.
20 Shyvana, League of Legends
Shyvana, League of Legends' Half-Dragon, is a melee fighter best suited for play styles that focuses on singular targets rather than mass attacks to whittle down their health bar into oblivion. Born from a unique union of dragon and human, Shyvana was forced to become a brutal fighter due to the persecution she faced due to her half-breed nature. Players fond of melee fighters can benefit from Shyvana's dual-form, the human and dragon, with devastating results.
For one constantly in search of her place of belonging, Shyvana can call this list home thanks to the stunning body paint and armor half-breed cosplay. A masterpiece of otherworldly passion, this cosplay is definitely in a league of its own.
19 Lady Deadpool, Marvel Heroes
The female counterpart of everyone’s favourite "Merc with a Mouth," Lady Deadpool hails from the alternate reality known as Earth-3010. But unlike Ryan Reynolds disgusting avocado-like facial features, Lady Deadpool is a beauty beneath that mask – and equally as deadly. First appearing in Deadpool; Merc with a Mouth #7, Lady Deadpool, or Wanda Wilson, branches out from the pages of comic books and arrives on our console screens guns blazing. Wanda becomes a playable character in Marvel Heroes, Marvel’s free-to-play MMORPG.
Responsible for bringing her to life in our version of reality, Earth-1218, is the gorgeous Megan Golden. A cosplayer, model, and actress, Megan’s Lady Deadpool cosplay is a perfect replica – all the way down to how her outfit curves her body. Granted its body paint, but we’re thankful for her commitment to detail.
18 Starfire, Injustice 2
Starfire is a complex character. An alien princess from the fictional world Tamaran, she endured a lifetime of horrifying servitude at the hands of her demented villainous sister, Komand'r, or rather, Blackfire. Despite this nightmarish upbringing, Starfire remains an optimistic heroine, bringing her joy, impossibly stunning good looks, and Amazonian-like powers onto our screens as a future playable DLC character in Injustice 2.
Starfire has always shared the DC stage with some of the biggest characters out there. A mainstay in many DC video games, Starfire has appeared in the Teen Titans Game Boy Advance game and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. With a full figure physique, it's easy to see why cosplayers challenge themselves at displaying her full beauty in her body paint form, hiding nothing, yet elegantly displaying Starfire’s otherworldly allure in its full glory.
17 Ms. Marvel, Marvel vs. Capcom
The epitome of beauty and grace, Carol Danvers donned the moniker of Ms. Marvel after she was caught in the explosion of a Kree device giving her superhuman abilities and powers. The focus of the Captain Marvel movie set to hit the big screens in 2019, Ms Marvel has been championing video games since her first appearance in Marvel’s X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse. Since then, she has gone to appear in numerous video games as a playable character, from Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and Ultimate Alliance 2, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, and most recently in the soon-to-be-released Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.
It's safe to say we're excited to see what the Captain Marvel movie will bring, the direction the film will take, and what Brie Larson will bring to the role. But until its release, we're more than willing to enjoy this beauty don the Ms Marvel in true body paint fashion.
16 Sindel, Mortal Kombat
There’s no question that Mortal Kombat has earned its place in video game history. When the now defunct Midway Games first released Mortal Kombat, it set a generational trend in fight games for years to come. Mortal Kombat stood shoulders above rival fight giants with original style, garnering attention from pulling elemental influences from different sources – 70s kung fu movies, 80s action flicks, and the over-the-top violence that it immediately became known for.
After drawing first blood, Mortal Kombat remained relevant thanks to its solid production, impressive visual techniques, and employing a cast of characters that adds layers of depth and complexity to your connection with the video games. This can all be seen in how fans have reacted to the franchise, eagerly strutting their stuff at conventions, just like Sindel shown above – a cosplay costume made purely from body paint. Makes us want to utter Scorpion’s famous fight phrase... Get over here!
15 Felicia, Darkstalkers
Perhaps it was fate that Morgana stumbled across the cosplay community, but ever since her first cosplay costume, she’s become a fan favourite. Counting her League of Legends cosplay as some of her favourite, she makes our list thanks to her stunning display of Darkstalkers’ feline character Felicia.
One of the two original females characters playable in the 1994 Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, Felicia is one of the most interesting characters in the series, having appeared in several other video games as a playable character, such as Capcom Fighting Evolution, Pocket Fighter, the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, and SNK vs. Capcom series. Replicating this feline’s beauty and intrigue, Morgana displays Felicia’s stunning beauty in a bare-all body paint cosplay leaving very little to the imagination.
14 Widowmaker, Overwatch
Widowmaker is certainly a cold-blooded killer. She never misses her mark, and equips herself with whatever it takes to get the job done. An assassin who possesses no emotions, Widowmaker will use an arsenal of weapons to eliminate her target. From deadly mines to a powerful sniper rifle capable of wreaking havoc and destruction, Widowmaker is a deadly killer ready to eliminate her target at a moment's notice.
Perhaps fitting then as that's what this cosplay does – eliminate the opposition. Wonderfully created by the impressive Kay Pike, this Widowmaker cosplay is head-to-toe body paint. No gimmicks here, just straight up deadly work of art. Ruthless in her approach to create the perfect recreation of our favourite Overwatch assassin, Kay Pike has certainly gotten our attention.
13 Boba Fett, Star Wars
Despite a lack of connection to the Force and wielding an arsenal of weaponry, including a jetpack, Boba Fett is considered by many as one of the most popular characters in the Star Wars universe. Before the release of the expanded Star Wars universe, which included books, comics, and eventually the three Star Wars prequels, very little was known about this enigmatic bounty hunter. Perhaps that’s why Boba Fett had such massive fan appeal. A man of action who spoke softly yet carried a big stick, Boba Fett’s fan appeal is elevated to further heights thanks in part to this stunning body paint cosplay.
Not much is known about the beauty behind this infamous body paint cosplay, only furthering her mysterious allure. An authentic replica of one of the best-designed costumes in cinematic history, this impressive cosplay is done purely with brush strokes, revealing artistic talent that could have originated in a galaxy far, far away.
12 Cortana, Halo
Halo wasn’t original in any sense of the word. Master Chief wasn’t the first masked protagonist to grace our consoles – that award goes to Samus – and space marines battling monstrous hordes has long been an archetype of video games. But Halo was a masterpiece theatre in the art of cinematography, achievement hunting, and a memorable cast that withstood the test of time. One most notably a charming blue AI companion named Cortana. An AI construct and Master Chief’s constant companion, Cortana was a naked holographic female projection with purplish to blue skin tones and binary/circuitry-laced skin tight suit to keep the game PG friendly.
Leyna Sweet projects this AI construct into the real world with her interpretation of Cortana, completely made with body paint and finished with a touch of digital flourish. While Cortana’s composition may be digital, Leyna certainly brings those “assets” to life rendering a costume that’s a technical masterpiece.
11 Psylocke, X-Men: Children Of The Atom
A member of the X-Men with a seemingly endless wardrobe, Psylocke first graced the pages of Marvel Comics in 1976 and, with time, became a mainstay in the X-Men universe making appearances in TV shows, movies, and video games. A character whose debut in the gaming industry started with the 1990 RPG X-Men II: The Fall of Mutants, Psylocke has made appearances in practically every X-Men video game since, most notably in the fighting games X-Men: Children of the Atom and the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
This purple-haired beauty has also been a mainstay of the cosplay community, with many fan favourites playing homage to her character and her seductive “assets.” From the skin-tight latex body suits to the form fitting body paint cosplay, Psylocke cosplayers truly know how to wield her impressive twin blades.
10 D.Va, Overwatch
While originally known for making epic theatres of war in Starcraft and Warcraft, Blizzard entered the foray of online multiplayer first-person shooters with their release of Overwatch in 2016. A year on and it has become a FPS behemoth, thanks in part the game’s focus on gameplay cooperation, class synergy, and a memorable roster with unique characters. Take D.Va for example.
One of the youngest members in the Overwatch roster, D.Va, real name Hana Song, is the pilot of an impressively powerful mech suit, a professional Starcraft player, and a famous actress. Perhaps we can add cosplay favourite to that list as well. Since her debut, cosplayers have performed their own impressions of the character both in the mech suit and out of it. This body paint cosplay pays homage to the character’s colourful palette, down to the finest detail.
9 Morrigan, Darkstalkers
The most prominent Darkstalkers character in the franchise’s history, Morrigan’s demonic appearance is elevated to a status beyond her devilish demeanour. As one of the main protagonists of the Darkstalkers series, Morrigan has made appearances in countless other Capcom games, from the ever-popular Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo to SNK vs. Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom fight arenas. The succubus ruler of the Makai realm, Morrigan is sexy and seductive, a hedonistic Ryu or Ken if you will.
She’s one of gaming’s most iconic characters and a true fan service to adolescent boys everywhere. This attracts countless renditions of her most iconic succubus outfit, often crafted down to the most revealing detail. With her long sea-green hair, sleeveless jet black bustier-like one piece and bat-inspired tights and wings, it’s easy to see why she’s the type of character to drive anyone batty.
8 Wonder Woman, Injustice
The release of Injustice 2 just a mere month ago sparked a lot of controversy – namely due to the roster of characters chosen to share the centre stage and their choice of future DLC characters that don’t seem to fit directly into the spectrum of Injustice’s story and character connection to the bigger expanded universe. We’re looking right at you Sub-Zero.
But one character who’s always welcomed with a reserved seat at the table is the Amazonian demi-goddess herself, Wonder Woman.Her recently released movie has been a smashing hit driving droves to the cinema to witness history in the making. This fame translates remarkably well in any medium thanks in part to her iconic costume, a colourful tankini-like costume accentuated by red, white, and blue elements, and finished with gold embellishes. It also works amazingly well as body paint as I’m sure you’ll agree.
7 Sheik, The Legend Of Zelda
When Sheik first bursts onto our screen in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, we were all baffled. We couldn't make out who this mysterious character was, and it wasn't until we progressed the story and gameplay forward that the truth dawned on us. Apparently, Link isn't always up to par with the task of saving the princess, so sometimes, she has to do it herself!
Revealed to be Princess Zelda herself, Sheik is the Batman to Zelda's Bruce Wayne, a masked heroine alter ego who fights in the shadows against injustice, using Deku Nuts as smoke screens to make decisive getaways. Sound familiar? Regards, this Legend of Zelda character is finally brought to light with this stunning cosplay, evoking sensual seductive while still remain true to the character's mysterious form.
6 Samus Aran, Metroid
When Metroid was still in its development stage and Samus was a mere thought on the drawing board, she wasn’t always a female. In fact, Metroid’s co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto suggested they change Samus Aran into a female character as to “surprise the player.” This seemingly mild-mannered suggestion sparked a video game revolution and had meteoric impact on not only the franchise’s place in history, but in video game characters as a whole.
We can thank Sakamoto for literally changing the face of video games and, 30 years on, fans still revel at this transformation. Every year, fans of the franchise are eager to make appearances in her powered Chozo Suit or in most recent years, her Zero Suit armor, with some opting for a body paint rendition that’s truly out of this world.
5 Venom, Marvel: Future Fight
Most Venom cosplayers often opt to display Eddie Brock’s rendition of the Venom symbiote – a predatory being filled with rage and utter hatred. This depiction isn’t reserved purely to the cosplay community. Venom’s appearances in mainstream media, including video games often portray him as the antithesis to Spider-Man, debuting in Sega’s 1990 The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, all the way up to current iOS Marvel games – Marvel: Future Fight and Spider-Man Unlimited.
This portrayal of Venom, masterfully created with brush strokes and body paint depicts the symbiote as a sultry and seductive bonding agent, rather than its common destructive force of nature. While a number of cosplayers have had run-ins with the Venom symbiote, this removal from the traditional norm is sleek and pretty much perfect.
4 Harley Quinn, Injustice 2
Harley Quinn debuting in the pages of DC’s comics as Arkham’s in-house criminal psychiatrist. Her ill-fated meeting with The Joker soon transformed her from a mild-mannered psychiatrist to a member of the criminally insane, predominantly as Joker’s deranged sidekick/lover. While she may have started off as a supervillain, recent years have seen her transform more into an antihero rather than a deranged maniac. Since her cameo in The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Super NES, her popularity and capital has skyrocketed, thanks in part to her inclusion to the DC film Suicide Squad and the Injustice series.
Harley Quinn has always sported colourful and flashy outfits – an exterior that matches her insane personality perfect. Many cosplayers in recent years have elected for the Margot Robbie-inspired look rather than the character’s original harlequin costume, a movement we could most definitely get behind.
3 Prophet, Crysis 3
Originally released as a PC exclusive, Crysis is a first-person shooter series that focuses on masked military protagonists enhanced with “Nanosuits,” technologically advanced suits of armor that augments the user’s physical strength, speed, defense, and even grants the protagonist temporary cloaking abilities.
Transforming your favourite video game character is a labour of love, often taking weeks and months to fine tune every detail of this artistic medium. But cosplaying a suit of armour can be cumbersome and bulky, making body paint art creations a gift from the cosplay gods. Suiting up as Prophet – Crysis 3’s main protagonist – this skin-tight (literally) Nanosuit took a mind-boggling six hours to create. And while it may not the user the same indestructible powers as the in-game hero, but still delivering the same amazing results.
2 Tyrande Whisperwind, Warcraft
While her first appearance was in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, it wasn't until Heroes of the Storm that Tyrande really became a fan and cult favourite. The chosen high priestess of elven goddess Elune, and former general of the night elf sentinels, Tyrande has led the Night Elves into countless battles and eons of war. A ranged support hero in the Warcraft universe, Tyrande strikes fear into the heart of her enemies and inspires awe into ours.
Since her appearance in Warcraft III and Heroes of the Storm, Tyrande has become a cosplay favourite, with many of her fans flocking to show their love for this striking huntress. The intricate craftsmanship and detailed work sells the beauty of this cosplay. The beautiful blend of body paint and armoured fabric lend to a bad-ass femme fatale – lurking in the shadows waiting for her moment to strike.
1 Queen Of The Blades, Starcraft 2
Original a member of the Terrans, Sarah Kerrigan was an expert espionage agent and member of the Ghost squad – Terran's elite sniper squad, sent behind enemy lines to accomplish the most of covert ops. The infamous ghost line, "nuclear launch detected" spread fear among Starcraft gamers as they scrambled to find the hidden ghost among their midst.
Portraying Kerrigan's infested form, the Queen of the Blades, this cosplayer beautifully depicts Kerrigan's brooding and ravenous persona – a bloodthirsty death-dealer seeking revenge for those that have done her wrong. Portraying Kerrigan, especially in her infested form is never easy. There's intricacies involved that must be considered, but we can all certainly agree that this cosplay has brought the Queen of Blades to life. Certainly, this must be the Queen of Cosplays.