The movie's makeup artist, Brad Wilder, shares how Theo James and Shailene Woodley got their epic tattoos on set
Credit: Summit

Tris Prior’s future may be uncertain in Divergent, but at least one thing is a little more permanent in the dystopian world: the Dauntless faction’s epic tattoos.

So how exactly did Shailene Woodley, Theo James and the other stars of the film get inked?

“[The art department was] looking for kind of futuristic … tattoos,” Brad Wilder, the film’s makeup artist, tells PEOPLE. “[They are] kind of a dark, rusty brownish-red color or black color [with] a lot of geometric designs … something that was a little bit different [and] maybe hard to do these days.”

The most labor-intensive tattoos were James’s (Four) back tattoos, which took three hours to apply and 45 minutes to remove each time.

“We would basically start in the middle with the five faction logos that go down his spine and then start at the top of his shoulders and kind of work out and down his back,” says Wilder. “It took three of us close to three hours.”

Woodley’s bird tattoos (one for each of Tris’s family members) near her collarbone and the Abnegation tattoo on her right shoulder were a much quicker process – only about five minutes of application time, which mirrored the tattooing process in the movie.

“It’s a futuristic tattoo called a blood tattoo,” Wilder explains. “There’s a scene or two in the movie where they put this patch over the person’s skin and there’s a little wire that leads to it. You see the patch change color, put [it] off and there’s the tattoo. It’s supposed to bring the blood to the surface.”

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