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7 tips for Pinup Artists

I’ve written before about what I look for in a Pinup Model. This article is slightly different. Rather, here are 7 tips for Pinup Artists.

I love pinup art. I always have and always will.

Among my favorites – Frank Frazetta (although he’s a Fantasy artist but his work overlaps with pinups), Olivia de Bernardinis, Gil Elvgren, Mel Ramos, and Luis Ricardo Folero (although once again, he’s a fine artist but his work precursors pinups).

I personally use watercolor and gouache for my pinups. You’re free to use whatever medium you want. Pinup art doesn’t have to be confined to a single medium. Heck, artists painted pinups on World War II planes for Pete’s sake!

So how can you make your pinups memorable? Well, here ya go.

The eyes are magical

Remember the girl who got away?

What color were her eyes?

Could you draw her eyes today, even if, heck, especially if you haven’t seen her in over a decade?

Allie, the blonde, and Roxy, the brunette are my main models. They’ve been modeling for me for a few years now. Recently, I’ve been working with Sophia as well.

All three of them have lovely eyes. Not only do they have lovely eyes; they know how to use them.

You, as the artist, need to know how to paint them.

Yes, stylistically, you can do eyes in any way you want. As long as they work.

But the key – make them look magical. The eyes are where it’s at and bad eyes will ruin an entire painting. Good eyes allure the viewer.

The lips

Second to the eyes? The lips.

A little trick? Have your models wear red lipstick.

You can never go wrong with red lipstick. It’s the standard for a reason. Men evolutionarily know that red lips are sexy. We’re sexually attracted to red lips. All women know that too. That’s why if there’s one piece of makeup above all else, it would be red lipstick.

Roxy has the best lips of anyone I’ve ever known in my life. No offense to anyone else’s lips. I’m just stating a fact. I absolutely love drawing her lips.

Allie also has nice lips. Allie’s a better model though. She knows how to draw attention to her lips as well as anyone.

I once asked Allie if she knew she was hot. She knows.

She also knows all these tricks. Heck, I should have just paid her to write this article. She knows this shit better than I do.

Belly dancing or Ballet

All dance is good. But if I can recommend two dances above all others for pinup art? Belly dancing or ballet. Belly dancing especially rules for pinups. Ballet though has the advantage of building muscle and grace.

A ballet dancer can do anything. It even translated well to the NFL. Ballet helped Lynn Swann make those insane acrobatic catches in the 1970s for four Steelers’ Super Bowl winning teams. He even has a Super Bowl MVP. How many wide receivers can you name with a Super Bowl MVP?

Herchel Walker’s ballet skills may have prolonged his football career. I’m willing to bet it helped Walker win his MMA fights (he’s 2-0 with 2 knockouts) in his mid-40s!

Does it translate well to pinup art? Of course! Muscle and grace. Holding that graceful pose. Like I said, a ballet dancer can do anything.

Opium Tales Roxy as Alicia
Roxy holding a belly dancing pose, modeling for a character named Alicia

Shapely models

Your models need to be shapely. Not fat. Not skinny. Shapely.

That means bust, hips, and waist need to be in the right proportions. We got our love of proportions from Ancient Greece and they haven’t changed. Marilyn Monroe would have made the perfect Greek statue.

My models have shape. I don’t have to exaggerate shit when I paint. I draw exactly what I see.

I may sound like an asshole saying this, but I’ll say it anyways. If you have to exaggerate a figure, then you’re better off looking for another model.

Pinups are not the same thing as figure models. Totally different. Figure models can have any figure. You paint exactly what you see as they hold a pose.

Figure models don’t talk. They just hold the pose forever and you draw.

In my book – that’s boring!

Yes, I’m painting live models. And you know what? We’re talking the whole time except when I have to draw their lips. Which leads to…

Alcohol

I will not paint someone who doesn’t drink.

I’ll say that one more time. I will not paint someone who doesn’t drink.

Drinking is a huge part of my life. Am I an alcoholic? No. But regardless, I drink. A lot.

The only time I don’t drink are the days I’m lifting weights (which is three or four times a week). The days I don’t lift, I drink.

And my models drink with me. Because alcohol opens up conversation better than anything else.

And conversation adds another dimension of pinup art that you can’t have with some shy, anxiety girl.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s extremely important to be open, friendly, courteous, and have fun when painting. If it ain’t fun, then why do it?

I simply don’t like people who don’t know how to have a good time. I have nothing to do with them.

My friends are fun and we do fun things. I take my wife traveling. With my models, I’m drinking and we’re having conversation and often laughing just a little bit too much.

You can see how much fun I’m having in my actual paintings. It translates to my art!

Minimize attention to the nose

I strongly think you should minimize attention to the nose. The eyes, the lips, the facial structure, and the hair are the best parts of the face. The nose? Absolute worst part of the face.

At best, a girl can have a cute nose. But no one ever said “I like Jenny for her nose.” That has never happened in the entire human existence.

Heck, a lot of anime artists don’t even paint the noses. Their eyes will be huge. But noses? Very minimal. And exaggeratedly small.

Draw attention to the eyes, the lips, the hair, the cheeks. Minimize attention to the nose.

Have characters prepared

The best pinup models can play all kinds of characters, from femme fatales to damsels in distress. From seductresses to the secretary fling girls to naughty librarians.

As the artist, have exactly what you want prepared in advance.

My role is easy. I do fantasy pinup art. Sirens, mermaids, succubi, or whatever. I already have the roles prepared.

Practice all of these 7 things and your pinup art will stand out!

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