Living outside my box of paints!
I've been creating Pin Up paintings for the past 9 years. Some have been more successful than others in terms of popularity, although I must say it seems that Pin Ups are like real people in that there is usually someone for every one!
Learning to Create Pin Ups takes Effort
Mastering my Pin Ups took a lot of trial and error, and at times, tears when things just didn't go right. What I did learn is that there are some key characteristics that make a Pin Up inviting and likeable, and I'm sharing them with you here.
Anatomy of a Pin Up Girl
I'd like to suggest that there are 5 Key Elements for creating a Pin Up Girl. Whether she is seated, standing, washing a car, wearing a bikini or jeans and a button-down - these elements are almost always present, and getting them "right" will determine whether your Pin Up is successful or not.
1. Twinkling Eyes
Yes, with Pin Ups, the eyes have it! They truly are the window to the soul, and making sure they "twinkle" with a come hither look will guarantee that your Pin Up will draw the viewer in. The eyes are also the smallest part of the image, which makes things challenging. Therefore, don't attempt to make your Pin Up too small. Easier said than done when it comes to Pin Up tattoos - which are limited by the area of the body they are created for. Go for an area that allows you enough space to capture the look in her eyes.
2. Bright Smile
Pin Ups are typically smiling. They can at times be "puckering" and not smiling, but typically they show some teeth. This can be a very challenging characteristic to capture just right. Don't overdo it! Creating just a hint of the shadow between teeth - or almost none at all is much better than thick lines that make the teeth look like Chiclets.
3. Complex Hair Do's
Yes, modern day Pin Ups can have a more relaxed hairstyle, but typically Pin Ups have something going on with their hair - pulled away from their face, long ringlets, an up-do. This adds another challenge and is something that can easily be overdone. In this case, as with the teeth, simpler is better. Look at the major shapes vs. the individual strands of hair. It should have an overall smooth and flowing or soft look.
4. Porcelain Skin
The more modern looking Pin Up may sport a tan, but most prefer the more traditional look of super smooth porcelain skin. Skin tones are traditionally a sticking point for a lot of artists. There is no one "flesh color". My recommendation here is to experiment with different combinations of burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, cerulean or cobalt blue, and violet. Shadow areas are typically more on the blue side, while highlights are typically light violet. There's a lot more to be said about creating pretty skin tones than I can cover here. Maybe it's a topic for another article.
5. Feminine Curves
Pin Ups are the quintessential "woman". That being said, they have curves and if you neglect to include those curves (or put them in the wrong places) your Pin Up just won't look so alluring. Simply put, straight lines just don't exist in a Pin Up. To work my curves just right, I use several old french curves that I traced onto card stock and cut out. I can use them for drawing and as a mask for airbrushing. There is also a tool created just for creating the perfect Pin Up curves:
I hope you found this article on the 5 Key Elements for creating a Pin Up Girl helpful, educational, or just fun to read. If you know of someone who's interested in Pin Ups, by all means share this with them!
Questions or comments on this topic or my painting process in general? I'd love to see them below!
(disclaimer: this blog post contains an affiliate link for the Artool Freehand template)
Susan Heidi Filardo is an artist, illustrator, fitness instructor and aspiring gypsy.