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Create a Team Spirited Pin Up Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Read Time: 11 mins

Personally, I love to draw "naughty but nice" pinups. There's somewhat of a sense of "sorry that I'm sexy", pure unapologetic, femininity to it. In order to lure my audience in, I like my pinups to hold certain features. Such as big kissable lips, loads of hair, lots of mascara, lashings of black eyeliner, little feet, super skinny waists, and throw in plenty of curves. Shoes, accessories and the amount of clothes you chose your pinup to wear, are a matter of preference. Feel free to go wild!

1. Lay Down the Pose

To begin with, you need to prepare your gesture sketch, in order to figure out the pose you want your pinup girl in. I recommend you research some pinup artwork before you approach this sexy art style; because pinups are not just about the posing as it is about the styling, theme and allure they possess.

Stay away from tacky and vulgar positions, and cover things up so you can leave a lot for your viewer's imagination. Your lady can go for a laid back pose, sipping on a Cosmo or she could be bending over to pick up her favorite lipstick or panties! The facial expression should show a Hollywood smile, seductive eyes and plenty of cheek.

2. Set Up Your File

Step 1

First let's start by setting up our sketch file. File > New (Command + N) and the New Document window will open up. Name your file, with settings of 13cm Width and Height, click OK. Now place your sketch into the file by File > Place, select your image and position it into place.

Step 2

When working with any illustration, take advantage of working with layers because it helps you keep things organized and it's easier to select, hide and lock content. In your Layers panel, double-click a layer and a Layer Option window will open. Give it the title "Sketch" and click OK, then lock down the "Sketch" layer. File > Save (Command + S). As you work get into the habit of saving, as you go. Then Create New Layer and give it the title "Outline". This is because we will be tracing our pinup over our "Sketch" layer.

Step 3

Now here's a trick I use quite often and it helps me outline the form and detail in my pinup girls: I use an Art Brush. To create one, we need to use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw two slightly overlapping ovals with a black Fill and Stroke to null. With the ovals selected, go to your Pathfinder panel and select Intersect, to create the art brush shape.

With the new shape selected, click on New Brush button, in the Brushes panel.

This will pop open a New Brush window. Select Art Brush from the options. This will prompt open the Art Brush Options. Name your Art Brush, "Outline Brush" and select from the options Colorization: Method > Tints. Tints will let us color our outlines at a later stage. Press OK and we are ready to trace!

3. Trace Your Sketch

Step 1

Tracing with the Paintbrush Tool (B) is a little tricky at first, especially if you are not using a digital drawing tablet. With practice you will eventually get the hang of it, but as an alternative you can use the Pen Tool (P) and the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) to draw in your line work.

Start by tracing over the main parts of your sketch. By selecting the Paintbrush Tool (B), and with your Outline Brush selected, make the Fill to null, Stroke black and Stroke Weight of 0.4pt, trace the major line-work with a slightly thick stroke over the model. Check my approach with the below image. You will see I left out most of the folds, and face details not traced, I just trace the outer borderlines.

Step 2

After tracing the major bits, we get down to outlining the thinner areas by using any size stroke fitting and less than the initial stroke used of 0.4pt. I tend not to trace as much of the detail because I don't want the lady to by overpowered by lines, I leave some of the work to the coloring stage. Tweak your stroke width as you find fitting. Once you are done, lock your "Outline" Layer, Create New Layer over the "Sketch" Layer and rename it "Face".

4. Add Color to Your Pinup

Step 1

With the Pen Tool (P) and the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) start tracing and coloring in the lips and eyes. Keep the skin until the end so you will be able to see your sketched pencil strokes below. In regards to your color palette choices, head over to ColorLovers.com. The site is helpful in selecting your color direction. With this pinup, you can go straight for your favorite sports team colors!

Begin with tracing the lips. To apply gloss to her lips, create ovals with the Ellipse Tool (L) with a lighter lip tone than the lip. When you are done, Group all the elements together (Command + G). Then draw her football earrings, and "eye black" (thick black lines under their eyes, I made mine a dark purple shade for now but will change them at a later stage).

The eyes are the only complicated parts, for now, because you need the focus that they remain seductive, not cross-eyed and the tracing approach is slightly longer to achieve. Let's start with creating and positioning of the pupils. Keep in mind the features of an eye when drawing. With the Ellipse Tool (L), create overlapping ovals, in green shades for the iris. Then place in a black pupil, and pop in a shine by applying Blending Mode Screen to the other ovals on top of the pupil.

Group (Command + G) them all together. Then after, there is this wonderful shortcut to learn, called Paste in Place (Command + Shift + V). Since I want to mask the pupils, I Copy (Command + C) the white of the eye and Paste in Place (Command + Shift + V), to create an overlapping eye white over our pupil. Select both and make a Clipping Mask (Command + 7).

Then, we use the same process to create the appearance of a shadow under the eyelids. So draw the overlapping shape of the shadow (presented in the sky blue color here) over the eye white. Select the eye white, Copy and Paste in Place, and it will create the same "eye white" shape over your original. Select the eye white plus the "blue shape shadow" you created, and in Pathfinder click Intersect. Give the new shape a light blue tone with Blending Mode Multiply and you've got yourself an eyelid shadow! Now do the same procedure with the other eye.

Apply your eye shadow, above each eye, then Group each eye's features together.

Trace in the skin tone of choice, and tweak things around so everything looks in place. You may need to unlock the "Outline" layer to move around your lining or fix it's width, but make sure you lock it right after, so shapes don't move around when we trace and color.

Step 2

Lock the "Face" Layer, Create New Layer on top of your "Outline" layer and name it "Accessories". We will trace in the stars on the shorts and number "9" on her top.

For the stars, you can obviously use the Star Tool, or quickly trace in the stars with the Pen Tool (P). For number "9", I will create an effect with the type. With the Type tool (T), and the college inspired font, "Academic M54", set at 18pt. Type in "9" with a Fill and Stroke to null. With the text selected, open the Appearance panel menu, and choose New Fill. Click the color drop down in Appearance panel, and apply a gradient. The reason I did that is I want to give a light effect on shirt's number. We will also apply another effect to it to make the number look like it's bulged on the chest, so select "9", Effect > Wrap > Inflate. Set Inflate at 25%, and click OK.

Step 3

After this step it is straight forward tracing, coloring and grouping each subject. Lock the "Accessories" layer, and then Create New Layer over "Sketch" called "Skin". Apply what we learned in Step 1 to make your shadows and create depth in your image. Your girl should be taking form.

Step 4

To dress up our lady, we need to lock the "Skin" layer and create a "Clothes" layer on top. Apply the same method of tracing and shadows, but for the clothes we will apply gradients to give her more form.

Again, you may need to lock and unlock some layers as you go along, to make line work adjustments, but it should be easy to handle since we layered everything earlier. I had added some new lines where the shorts wrinkle, changed the color of the stars, colored in the bow, applied gradient to the clothes, and created shadows.

When creating shadows for a gradient background, you apply the same Intersect method, in your Pathfinder panel and give your shape Blending Mode Multiply, with a matching tone to its subject. For the black mesh crop top, I just gave the top a 60% black, with Blending Mode Multiply and Opacity set at 100%.

Step 5

The final step of layering the color is the hair. The key to tracing hair is to treat it in layers. Create strands according to the section of the head. With bangs you'd make more strands than with pigtails. Before we go ahead, delete the "Sketch" layer, from your Layers panel, as we don't need it anymore, and replace it with a new layer called "Hair". Now use the Pen Tool (P) and the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) to trace your strands. I went for a blue tone for my lady.

5. Add Refinements to Your Pinup

Sometimes you need to go through your illustration and replace or amend things to fit the overall tone of the image. I found that my girl's earring didn't match the outfit, so I used the Star Tool from my Tools panel and went back to "Face" layer and exchanged them, with yellow stars. I also altered her lips color, to match her shirt color. Then I altered her eye shadow to match her eyes, and gave the pupil another tone. The socks strips were also exchanged to black. For the number "9", I gave it an Outer Glow by going to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow. It was given a berry color, set at Multiply Mode, 100% Opacity and a Blur of 0.1cm.

6. Add Some Final Effects

Step 1

Once you are satisfied with the overall look of your pinup it's time to color the outlines. So unlock the "Outline" layer and color each stroke to match its respective area. You will need to arrange your lines back and forth to avoid unnecessary overlapping.

Step 2

The final step is to add effects to your pin up. What I like to do sometimes is to Feather the highlighted areas on the skin; Effect > Stylize > Feather. Click Preview to view how much feathering you need. I went for 0.05cm for smaller areas and 0.1cm for larger areas. You may need to brighten the tones a bit to bring the light out. Once you've done feathering the parts you want, lock the layer and Create New Layer, on top of all, called "Effects".

I like to add a little sparkle to my ladies. To create a sparkle, you need to use the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle. Effect > Distort and Transform > Pucker and Bloat, set at -115%, and apply a Fade to Black gradient from the Swatches panel. The gradient was altered to Radial and colors switched to white.

Create another sparkle with the Star Tool, using the following settings: Radius 1: 0.3 cm / Radius 2: 0.1cm / Points:  6. Use the same gradient as above, and you've got another spark! Now you can rotate, expand play with gradient and transparency to move the sparkles around to where you would like your pinup to glitter.

Make your final adjustments and we got ourselves a sparkling team player ready to be pinned up!

Awesome Work Team!

Wonderful! Using these techniques you've accomplished your first pinup! Now you can pin her up on a nice background, and post her up on to your social network. Have a look at the final version I created, with stars background. I hope you enjoyed my tutorial. I'd love to see your versions, send them through!

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