When painting pinups, the magic happens in the initial sketch. Once you get good at sketching, everything else just falls in place.
In the old days, artists took anatomy classes and dissected bodies. I won’t go that far. However, I strongly recommend that you know bodies very well.
I’m a damn good masseuse and also was a pretty good wrestler back in the day. Between massage and wrestling, I know what a body can and can’t do. I also know every muscle of the body, every tendon, every major bone.
I know both healing points and pain points. Before MMA was MMA, I wrestled NHB, which is no-holds-barred wrestling and would attempt to move my opponent’s body in ways that hurt enough for them to tap.
Why this matters
Alright, maybe you don’t want to get into wrestling. That’s totally fine. Not your thing.
Then get into massage. Know a body inside and out. Know how to heal a body. Masseuses also know pain points.
I’m almost blind. I’d much rather touch than look for obvious reasons. I see nothing without my glasses. You and I could be five feet away from each other and without my glasses, you’re blurry. I literally cannot tell you what you eye color is.
Of course anatomy classes work too. That’s why artists of the old days did them.
I strongly suggest live models. Yes, I wear glasses and yes, with my glasses, I can almost see as well as you can. My eyes are mostly correctable. Correctable enough for me to legally drive. And no, I’ve never caused an accident and I’ve literally driven over half a million miles.
I use two live models – Allie and Roxy. Both are dear friends of mine. For personal reasons, I don’t paint anonymous models. I feel like I have to be emotionally connected to my work for my work to be meaningful.
You don’t have to feel like this. Maybe I’m a weirdo. But that’s how I think. I’m emotionally connected to my work. I can’t put emotional investment in something that is anonymous, so my models either have to be close friends or lovers. That’s a hard rule for me.
Regardless, live models are great. You get to see how a woman sits, how a woman moves, how a woman stands, how a woman walks. You get to see all the muscles move exactly how they can move. And, you get to see the shadowing.
Shadowing is so important when drawing. It gives your drawing depth. And a lot of realism.
For painting pinups
You’re looking for beauty. Paint only the beautiful.
What is beautiful? You tell me. We all have different tastes. There are no right answers, and I can guarantee that if you find a model beautiful, someone else will as well.
But yes, drawing is where it’s at. When I first started painting, I listened to experienced artists. I listened to mistakes and regrets.
You know what stood out to me? I remember explicitly hearing some guy say that he wishes in the beginning he spent two hours drawing for every one hour painting. You know why? Because drawing is where it’s at, especially when painting pinups.
I start with a sketch
In this one, Allie posed. I sketched her. I sketch everything from the lines to the shadows. I’ll replicate the shadows in the sketch when I paint the paintings.
I don’t use any fancy pencils. I just use this pencil called America’s Pencil and it’s an HB2. That’s it, nothing fancy.
This is also why I prefer using hot press watercolor paper. It’s personal preference, but for me, the sketch is the most important part of the process.
Painting is the easy part
I love painting. It’s the most relaxing thing I do. But, it’s also quite easy once you get the hang of it.
Yeah, exactly what that old timer said – spend twice as much time practicing drawing/sketching than painting. You’ll get the hang of painting much sooner than the drawing/sketching.
It’s especially true when painting pinups. When painting pinups, if the drawing is bad, the painting is bad. Period.
I make sure I nail the drawing first before I ink. I prefer inking with a very fine ink pen. My personal preference – Sakura Micron 005. You don’t have to use the same tools as we’re all entitled to our preferences. But that’s just what I use.
So if you’re a new artist, get really good at drawing. Everything else will fall into place. Don’t worry. You’ll get the colors and the painting picked up really fast. That’s the easy part!