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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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What I look for in a Pinup Model

Jin n Tonic and Allie

I primarily use two models for everything – Allie and Roxy. Allie is the blonde. Roxy is the brunette. Both of them are some of my closest friends on the planet.

I worked with Allie throughout her pregnancy and regret never doing a pregnant painting of her. I really should have, just to do.

She’s already looking great, despite her baby being born earlier this year. How did she recover that fast? I’ll leave that a secret, just in case Allie wants to write a book or sell a course.

Seriously. I should encourage her to do just that.

Occasionally, I’ll use other models. I’ve use Jin n Tonic before a few times now. Jin modeled both for my selkie painting and also for my homage to Mel Ramos.

As we speak, I’m taking a break from finishing up Alicia, a character from my Humpty Dumpty story. Roxy modeled for this one, and I’m going to sell it in an eBook form since it will have a shitload of illustrations, mostly really cool doodles.

If you’re wondering how to find pinup models, that’s an entirely different topic. I actually put a paid ad out. This isn’t my ideal way to find them though as I like to know people really well. I knew Allie and Roxy before they were my models and I knew Jin from working on music videos before from a failed band.

This weekend, I’m working with two new models. If they’re the right fit, I’ll keep one or both of them. If not, then I’ll keep looking. I want to have more than two regular models to work with. Of course nothing against Allie and Roxy, they’re the best, but for variety’s sake. I simply can’t have the same two women for every single character I come up with.

Fit – Can she be a Muse?

More than everything else combined – fit. We have to get along. And she’s got to fit the part.

Getting along is huge. I’m an artist. I’m probably more emotional than most. Some people I love to death. Some people, I’d never work with again.

I’m very loose. I don’t like structure. I don’t like rules.

If you come into a relationship and immediately lay down your laws, I’m going to roll my eyes and it will be a one time thing.

However, if you’re super cool, I’ll be more than happy to work with you for years. I’m like a dog. The people I like, I like forever.

Body

I’ve seen a lot of overweight pinups. That’s the new thing nowadays. Love your body no matter what.

More power to you! Seriously. If you’re happy being you, I’m happy for you.

But, I’m not going to work with someone without the body shape I like. I like a woman with more 1950s curves. Like Bettie Page. Or Marilyn Monroe.

Sure, not everyone can have a body like Marilyn Monroe. Allie and Roxy both do though. And Allie just had a baby.

I’m an artist, not a doctor. But, I lost 15 pounds by cutting carbs and eliminating processed foods entirely. If you go through our house, we have pasta, rice, and everything else will spoil. We eat mostly meats, fruits, and veggies.

No more sugars. The only sugars we get are from natural foods, like apples, bananas, grapes, etc. We also try to eat organic when available and free ranged meats when available. Our eggs are all either organic or at least free range.

Once again, I’m not a doctor. But, I myself lost a lot of belly fat by changing my diet.

Every once in awhile, we’ll order a pizza. I’ll only eat cake if one acquaintance of ours makes it. Her cakes are the best cakes I’ve ever had in my life. She’s a friend of a friend, and super talented. She even used to do sculpture and I really hope she gets back into it.

If it’s not her cake, I don’t eat it.

And yes, I drink alcohol. But no more beer for me. Usually whiskey or red wine.

Proud of her femininity

Femininity has power. A lot.

Wars were fought over beautiful women. Cleopatra. Helen of Troy. Then, you got your femme fatales that bring men to their doom because we simply can’t resist their beauty.

The pinup queen knows this. She wields her femininity with great power. It translates well to the canvas, or in my case, the watercolor board.

Attitude

Pinup models are pinup models. They’re not shy, although sometimes they’ll play that role for certain poses. But no, they’re not shy.

They’re by no means socially retarded. In fact, they’re social creatures. You know they’re there. Which leads to…

Presence

The very first time I saw Jin in real life, she was singing karaoke in Vegas. And you know what? Everyone in the whole fucking room was paying attention.

She wasn’t even dressed up. She was wearing street clothes. Yet, she had this presence that despite not looking that much like she did in her pictures, I knew that had to be Jin.

Most pinup models I’ve known drank. Not a requirement, but it’s part of the culture. For obvious reasons, Allie can’t drink too much just yet but she promised that when her kid is old enough to leave him with her parents, we’re getting plastered together.

Aura

And speaking of presence, whether you believe in aura or not, I’ll mention it. Good pinup models definitely have an aura. Olivia de Berardinis is so good as an artist that you could practically feel their aura from her paintings. Olivia is who I want to be when I grow up.

Can play different roles

If you look at pinups from the Golden Age of Pinups, they play different roles. Sometimes, the pinup model plays the shy girl. She’s often embarrassed or in a compromised situation.

You’ll also see her play the femme fatale. Or, she’ll play a seductress for the sake of seduction, without luring the everyday man to his doom.

Opium Tales Roxy
Roxy

She could play the party girl or the naughty housewife. These are just examples. The thing is, my ideal pinup model can play multiple roles and pull them off well.

What I don’t want

I can’t play poker. If I have a good hand, you’ll know it. If I have a bad hand, you’ll also know it.

I’m an open book. And I like people who communicate.

I don’t like soulless people, people devoid of life. Whether you believe in Heaven, reincarnation, or absolutely nothing, you get one shot at being you. I can’t speak for you, but I’m going to make the best of my shot.

More than half the models I’ve ever worked with didn’t have that pizazz. They weren’t full of life.

They simply went through the motions, and that was it.

That is exactly what I don’t want.

I want someone who loves being that character. The way Allie or Roxy models is the best. They really get into it. We got music going on and they don’t even have to fake their smiles. They love doing it.

I’ve worked with models before that once they’re done smiling, they go right back into a dead face.

Pardon my French, but fuck that shit! I don’t work with those models ever again. It’s a one-time thing.

We have to connect

Also, we have to connect. If there’s no connection between me and you, I don’t want to work with you ever again.

It’s just like I had one corporate job in my entire life that I absolutely loved. You know why? Because several people I worked with connected. I’m still friends with those people. Actually, one of them, we were just over at his house for a wine tasting.

We argue art all the time. Often agreeing though. Like for instance, his favorite band is The Cure. I liked what is now called “Dad Metal” from that time period but I still loved the album Head on the Door.

The same goes with my pinup models. No connection, no workie again.

I’m a Romantic after all. I have to feel something. If I feel nothing, there is no art.

It’s just like when I play music. Sure, I read sheet music. But when I play, it’s not just notes. I’m playing from my soul.

So that’s what I’m looking for. I give people chances and see if they’re a good fit. If not, I don’t work with them again and I actually don’t bother painting them. They stay as sketches and that’s that.

About the image

That’s Jin (initially wearing a black wig but I changed it to red) and Allie in a watercolor painting I did for a friend. That painting is not for sale.

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Similar poses for the win

Every morning, I do a quick five minute sketch. This is one of the best things an artist could possibly do to improve his or her technique.

You get good at drawing at a decent pace. The timer is brutal. As it should be. No forgiveness. No mercy.

You get good at managing your time with the pencil. You simply learn to not waste time.

This ends up applying to other things as well. You’ll notice you’ll find your more efficient at other aspects of your life.

Gratitude

But, I also want to mention, I also start off mornings with gratitude. I say what I’m thankful for.

And this morning? Allie.

Allie is a rock. She’s very reliable. Very responsible.

If you haven’t been reading this blog, long story short, I’m married with an adult son. But I have two models that I use regularly. Allie is the blonde and Roxy is the brunette.

I see Allie more than twice as much as Roxy though. Allie is way more reliable.

Similar poses

Anyways, every week, we look for poses. And sometimes, we’ll do a similar pose.

Yes, I’m a fantasy pinup artist. But lately, I’ve been doing a lot of space themed ones. Coming up, I’m working on a larger painting called Selene’s Rangerettes – Defenders of the Moon.

Sounds cheesy? It’s supposed to. It’s an homage to that old sci-fi except this time, with the women naked. Because I’m a pinup artist first. Every once in awhile, I’ll do something outside of the fantasy realm.

Selene is the Ancient Greek Moon Goddess. I’ve painted Allie modeling for Selene several times now.

Selene Greek Moon Goddess
First time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene
Second time painting Selene

So I painted those two similar poses. And you know what? I’m getting more and more comfortable with those poses.

Try it! Hopefully you have a reliable model you can work with.

Not gonna stop

After I did that last one, I did the one listed in my latest blog post about how technique is more important than the tools you’re using. And now I’m doing yet another one – that Selene’s Rangerettes.

When it comes to ideas, why not take something old and make something new out of it? Do you think the Greek Gods and Goddesses still do all the same stuff they did 500 years BC?

I’m doing Selene’s minions with rockets and laser guns. Because, why not?

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Can Pinup Art be considered High Art?

Where do we draw the line in what is Pop Art vs High Art? Can pinup art be considered High Art?

Serious question.

After all, look at a lot of the Post Modernist garbage. They consider that bullshit high art. And it takes a million times more talent and work to create pinup art than it does that crap.

For instance, can you seriously tell me that this crappy piece called We Are Not Afraid is better than anything done by Boris Vallejo, Mel Ramos, or Frank Frazetta?

We are not afraid – Philip Taaffe 1985

Frankly, I don’t really care for labels. When someone asks what kind of art I do, I tell them Fantasy Pinups. It’s just easier to classify but I don’t by any means believe in limiting yourself to one genre.

Favorites

One day at Barnes and Noble, my wife picked me up a book on Gil Elvgren. I’ve seen his works before. I didn’t know him by name though. My wife knew I liked pinup art.

At the time, I was into photography and shooting nudes of a friend of mine. Several years later, Allie approached me about modeling. Then Roxy did. And I turned from photography to painting.

So I decided to take that Gil Elvgren book seriously. And go back and study the others I really liked from Frank Frazetta to Olivia de Berardinis.

I imitated everyone the best I could until I started developing my own style. I also imitated the Pre-Raphaelites, a subset of Romanticism. They’re actually considered High Art.

Although my own work is Pop Art, I see no reason to move someone like Frank Frazetta into the High Art category. He’s definitely more talented than any Post Modern artist.

But alas, it’s all just labels anyways. It will be interesting to see what people two hundred years from now say. Maybe they’ll throw out all the Post Modern bullshit and buy Frank Frazetta and Olivia paintings for millions. Or at least, a man can hope.

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On Pinups and the S Curve

You’ve seen it before. Actually, if you’ve done pinups, you more than likely already done it many times.

The S Curve was first used in the West by the Ancient Greeks. Here’s The Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch. The statue depicts the Goddess of Beauty – Aphrodite herself.

Imagine what that statue must have looked like back in the day. No pieces broken off. Fully painted. (Yes, those statues were painted).

The Greeks were the masters of beauty. So much that even today thousands of years later, we’re still taking notes. Heck, right now, you’re reading this article that I wrote in 2019 on something that was literally made several thousand years ago. We share their standards of beauty even to this day!

Venus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch
Venus de Milo depicts the classic S curve

If you don’t know what the S curve is, just imagine your model’s body making an S. You can clearly see the S in the statue.

The S curve is pleasing to the eyes and could never be overused when it comes to pinup art. If you’re working with a newer model, make sure she knows how to contort her body into a lovely S shape. If she doesn’t, then it’s your job to teach her.

Experienced models will know this, especially ones who have modeled for pinup art. Experienced models know that this is the most beautiful curve on the planet. They’ll readily be able to get into poses that emphasize this curve.

Roxy and the S Curve

Roxy is my brunette model. She’s great to work with. She has a pretty face and a most lovely, shapely body. When she curves into an S, we have absolute perfection.

Here’s a classic example. Note how much the curve resembles Venus de Milo. Roxy did this without even any instruction. She just did it.

Opium Tales Roxy and the S Curve
Roxy knows how to model the S Curve

Note that you can do this sitting down (look for Bettie Page for instance) or standing up. I’m a huge fan of Gil Elvgren’s work. A lot of his models were really good at both sitting S curves and standing S curves. Or he was good at instruction. I’m assuming it’s a bit of both.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you want to study this further, look up Bettie Page images and also Gil Elvgren images. Specifically look for those curves in the pictures. You should be able to see them right away.

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Qualities of good pinup art

I’ve been studying what good pinup art is for awhile now. Although I’ve been studying the Pre-Raphaelite masters like John William Waterhouse lately, I’ve always been a fan of good American pinup.

American pinup artists during the so-called Golden Age of Pinups made their money in ads. The ads only had a few seconds to catch the reader’s eye. They had to really stand out.

Those ads would be called sexist today so we don’t see them anymore.

Which is sad because it hurt both the models and the artists. A lot of them were actually pretty good.

Post Golden Age, my favorites were Frank Frazetta and Olivia. I was a huge Frazetta fan. I even enjoyed that movie Fire and Ice he did with Ralph Balski.

But what makes good pinup art?

Good pinup art is of course subjective. You and I may prefer entirely different artists. And that’s perfectly ok.

But all good pinup art has most or all of these qualities.

The women are either sexy or gorgeous

A dear friend of mine years ago scolded me for calling her cute. “That’s something you say to a child.” We were dressed up to go out, and she was wearing a lovely long, black dress.

She wanted me to call her either beautiful, sexy, or gorgeous. Grown up women words. After all, she was about to turn 20. (This was decades ago).

So yes, there’s a difference between cute, beautiful, lovely, striking, sexy, and gorgeous. John Updike explained why striking is a backhanded compliment at best. You’ll never hear me call a girl I find attractive “striking.”

Now sexy or gorgeous, that’s the essence of good pinup art.

Lighthearted

Pinup art often has a bit of humor to it. It’s lighthearted. If you look at Gil Elvgrin for instance, a lot of his models get accidentally partially disrobed. It’s cute.

It doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’ve worked with two models since I started painting. We’re always having a good time. The modeling sessions are never tense.

When I get a third model, she has to laugh. I don’t want a cold model with no feelings. She’s got to be human.

A celebration of femininity

In these parts, girls are taught that femininity is a weakness. That’s got to be the dumbest belief on the planet. Men have started wars over beautiful women. Femininity is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

From Elvgrin to Olivia, you could tell how much the artists absolutely love women. Frazetta loves women. He was an old school family man who died married to the same woman forever.

If you’re a misogynist, you cannot produce good pinup art. You just can’t. And yes, this includes women who secretly hate women. It will show in your art.

Seduction

Here’s a hot tip. The majority of folks who buy pinup art are either men or women who pick it up for their husbands. My wife bought me a Gil Elvgrin book back while I was still learning to draw.

The art had to catch your eye. Right away.

Since a lot of these early ones were ads, they only had a few seconds to make a man want to read them.

good pinup art is sexy
Allie knows how to be sexy

Frazetta’s art ended up on a lot of book covers. Sometimes men would buy the book for the cover and not even read the thing.

Olivia made a pretty good living selling her art to men’s magazines. Online killed off men’s magazines but Olivia to this day has a rabid cult following.

What do all her models have in common? They’re deeply seductive. Olivia gets it. She gets it so well that she’s famous around the world for her pinups. You’ll know her work in seconds.

That’s what I’m focusing on

You learn what works by simply looking what works. I’ll happily list my influences. Only Olivia is alive today.

Those qualities are the very qualities I emulate. I sketch with live models, then transfer my work into paint.

Both of my models are drop dead gorgeous in real life. They’re head turners. Jaw droppers. Whatever the phrase is now.

My goal is simply to produce good pinup art
My fantasy pinups range from classic silliness to downright sexy to femme fatale and you can tell I love boobs

They also know how to be sexy. But in our sessions, we’re lighthearted. When the sessions begin though, they know full well how to pose sexy.

And last but no way the least, I absolutely love femininity. I’ve always been a sucker for a beautiful girl. If you could convey that feeling into your art, you can produce good pinup art.

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When painting pinups, the magic happens…

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 mixed martial arts were actually called 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.  They know what hurts and how to alleviate some of that pain.  If you think you can apply this to your artwork, well my friend, you’d be 100% correct!

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.

Live models

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 have the reflexes of a cat.

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.

Should you be friends?

Honestly? I think it helps.  When sketching either Allie or Roxy, there’s often magic in the sessions.  We joke and laugh and smile a lot.  Makes the sessions easy.

More importantly, we’re all loose.  Pinup art is supposed to be loose.  It’s not supposed to be uptight.

If you’re doing pinups, you’re not painting two bananas, an apple, and a bunch of grapes in a fruit bowl.  You need to make the painting look alive and that means your model should be relaxed.  And more importantly, comfortable with you.

Does she have water? Has she eaten? Is the room too cold?

Paint only the good poses

I’ve taken two semesters of photography in high school and one in college.  Unfortunately, a lot of photographers are dorks.  These guys get a woman naked and don’t know what to do with her.

It shows in their photography.  Whereas, here you got a woman with a beautiful body and the pose is downright awful.  “What are you doing?”

Same thing with painting.  This is yet another reason I think you should be at least friends with your model.  You have an emotional connection.

“Hips out to the right. Just a little more.  Now back straighter.  There you go, baby! You’re gonna knock ’em dead!”

And remember – positive reinforcement.  Don’t be a jerk or else they won’t want to work with you again, even if you’re friends.  (And you may not be friends for much longer).

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.

example for painting pinups
You can still see the pencil lines. I’ll usually remember to erase those before I start painting

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!