Seeing life through the lens of a pin-up artist
Welcome to my blog. Let me share with you the how and the why I like to draw sexy images for a living.
What's up? It's time for another blog entry. I'm really happy because it's Friday... although I don't know why. Now that I work from home, there isn't really a difference between Fridays and Mondays. Nevertheless, I still follow Garfield's lead by hating Mondays... and still love Fridays.
I am looking forward to get some work done today and plan on what kind of work I'll be focusing for the next couple of weeks. As I mentioned before, I do have a lot of plans for this year and barely enough time to make them a reality. One step at a time and steady pace is the strategy to follow. But enough of talking about plans... talking too much about doing something is the easiest way to prevent yourself from doing it.
So, let's talk again about pin-ups, rendering pin-ups. Going back to topics I've covered in previous posts, I have mentioned how sometimes I'm approached by aspiring professional artists. This happens mostly at shows, which I haven't done in a while, but I also get approached online. I get asked about techniques, mediums, sales, protocol when it comes to models, etc. I have said this before, but I'll keep saying it, over and over again whenever I touch this topic: I am by no means an expert, but I'll share what I've learned though the years, in the hopes that this will help other artists avoid the mistakes that I've done in the past, in any area related to pin-up artwork.
For the purpose of this blog entry, I'll focus on an aspect of my work that seems to appeal to the majority of the fellow artists that approach me: the "look" of my work. Some say that it looks real (as in tangible, not realistic), some say it looks alive, even though they are cartoons or cartoon-esque pin-ups. So, what's the secret? Well, first of all, it's not a secret, since I'm always happy to share. But, what do I do that is special? Nothing, really, I just focus on trying to make artwork that flows, that breathes. That doesn't mean that I've always achieved it, but I certainly am getting more and more aware of how to end up with a result that is good for me. But let's talk more about it.
When it comes to rendering a pin-up, my final goal is to have an image that looks sexy, but also looks consistent over all. What I mean with this is how I focus on shading and coloring, as well as anatomy (which includes face anatomy). These are the basic principles when I do artwork, and those are in my opinion the first aspects on which an aspiring pin-up artist should focus entirely at first. At the very least, get familiar with those, the more you sketch, the more you practice, the more you'll master them. It might be hard (and expensive) to get a live model in order to practice, but there are other ways. In my particular case, most of my practice came from photos, especially from Playboy magazines (oh, Playboy, I owe you so much!). I have to mention this: drawing from photos is never like drawing from live models, especially because you're missing that third dimension; however, I didn't let that get in my way, and neither should you.
Now, even though shading, coloring and anatomy are in my opinion, the most basic (and important) aspects, they are not enough. Even if you learn to render your pin-ups with great shading, vibrant coloring and flawless anatomy, they still could be "lifeless". How can this be?, you might ask. Well, let me ask you this: have you ever traced a photo? You probably have, maybe not. If you haven't, try it. If you have, you'll probably understand what I say next. You can trace a photo all you want, down to the tiniest detail. Everything is there, all the details. However, the drawing won't look alive. It will be accurate, but it won't be alive. Samewise, when it comes to rendering a pin-up, relying only in the tecnical aspects (like shading, coloring and anatomy), will deliver a very accurate image, but not necessarily an image that "talks" to the viewer. This is when your sense of artistry comes to play, a very important factor when I do artwork. What do I mean by this?
Once I'm done shading and coloring, once I'm sure that the image is anatomically correct (well, as sure as I can be), I try to evaluate it. Not with measurements, but just with my plain sight. How does this pin-up look? Does it talk to me? Does it move? Do the lines flow? In other words, I make sure that the artwork "feels" right to me. That's the part where the artist definitely has to step in, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph. I personally look at my artwork while still in progress, trying to see if the image is unified as a whole, instead of looking like a group of well rendered pieces. You might be scratching your head, thinking: how do I do that? Or more specifically, what am I doing wrong? Unfortunately, I cannot show you if you don't see it. That is one of the hardest obstacles to sort as an artist. However, don't get discouraged. All the opposite, get motivated to breathe more and more life into your work. Analyze it, turn it upside down, do whatever you need to do to get a different perspective. Try to feel your artwork. I can guarantee that once you put your effort in it, constantly and consistenly, you'll start to see things in a different way.
Look at the posted image from last year, based on porn star Kendra Lust. This is definitely not a portrait, but it's a good example of what I wrote. I used Kendra's photos as reference, in order to create this image. The face and body came from two different photos, both of them from Kendra, but two different photos nevertheless. Imagine how this pin-up would look if I had just copied what I saw: a good rendered head pasted on top of a good rendered body. Yes, I used both as a reference, but at the end you have to "unify" your work, make it look good, natural... alive. That's the moment when you have to let go of the reference image, at least to a certain point, and trust your instincts as an artist. Add a line here, remove a line there, and so on.
I know that it's easier said than done, but I know it's not impossible. How do I know this? Because I've been there. So, keep drawing, keep sketching, keep painting, keep innovating. Keep challenging yourself. That's the part that rocks of being an artist... of course, drawing naked and semi-naked women is awesome as well! :)
Thank you for reading this blog entry, I hope you liked it. As always, if you would like to support my work, please visit my Patreon profile to become a patron, by clicking here. Have a great weekend everybody and see you next!
Pin-up artist by day… and also by night. Well, mostly by night, because that's when I love to draw the best.