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    Henning Ludvigsen buckles up and runs us through the creation of
    'Martian PinUp', commissioned for ImagineFX and published in
    Ballistic Publishing’s EXOTIQUE 4.
    CGSociety :: Tutorial
    14 October 2008, by Henning Ludvigsen

    Introduction
    Henning Ludvigsen has a great career in character work behind him, working freelance in Europe over the past decade or more. His 'Martian PinUp', seen as a spread on pages 130-131 of EXOTIQUE 4 is just the latest in a series of smashing works.

    Concept

    Even though I enjoy painting girls, I don’t really consider myself a pin-up artist. I did a project for Eidos Interactive a while ago where I painted three retro-looking pin-up girls, and that’s when it hit me how much fun this genre truly is.

    The Martian pin-up was done for the cover of ImagineFX magazine issue #22, and it also came with an extensive workshop on how to paint pin-up girls, in which I learned a lot from myself while writing it. It was painted using Photoshop CS2 on a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet.

    As I had already learned from my earlier pin-up paintings; I tried to capture the same expression as the old-school pin-up masters, and still have a modern take to it. It’s all about the facial expression, the body talk and choice of colors.
     
    Sketches
    Once I had this assignment, I tried a couple of takes on a different approach with the girl on a hovercraft. The client knew what they had in mind, and they supplied me with a very helpful conceptual sketch to work from, but I still had more than enough freedom to have fun and play around with this piece. With this painting, I wanted to prove that you can still create a modern painting by using the old pin-up master’s techniques in mind.

    The most important thing to keep in mind is that the legs should be the star of the piece, and therefore you can take some liberties and lengthen them a bit further than what is realistic.

    A flirtatious facial expression and an elegant, sexy silhouette is also one of the main elements for achieving the right expression. Most things have been exaggerated just a little; from the already mentioned length of her legs, to the curve of her waist, chest, and her hands and fingers, where the latter can play quite an important role for this specific genre of art; they need to be elegant, and have the correct pose. Holding this pose in real life would be quite hard, at least for normal office nerds like me, but it still looks quite ok in the painting.

    Shape
    I prefer starting off in grey-scale before adding any colours to the piece. Once I had the line-art sketch blocked in, I used my favorite hard-edged brush, and quite roughly got the main shape up and running. This is my favourite part of the painting process: working with shape.


     
    Colors
    With the shape roughly 'pinned up', I apply some base colors to the girl and the rocket launcher using a normal hard-edged brush set to 'color' mode. I don’t spend much time on this, as I know that I’m going to go over the piece several more times. It’s just important to get the color-balance in as early as possible in the process, especially if you’re starting out in grey-scale as I do.

    Once the basic colors have been applied, I go over the piece again with my brush set to “normal” mode. This is where I start adding color variations to the different surfaces and correct the values a tad more.

      
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    The background
    I decided to leave the background quite simple, not to steal any attention away from our GI-Jane with the rocket-launcher; we wouldn’t want to mess with the star in the piece, would we? The purpose of the background is merely to put her into a fitting environment and aid our perception of the theme we want to communicate through the painting. The rocks were painted using a textured brush with random scattering settings for adding harder edges. .

    Hair and make-up
    The hair is important for pin-up girls to appear right and self-confident. I first found the main shape and the curls in the right place. A good tip when painting hair is always starting off with a dark base, and then to apply brighter batches and strands of hair in layers on top of each other. This applies for blonde hair as well as dark.

    Her makeup was softly added on a separate layer set to “Hard Light” blending mode. Mascara was added on a separate layer as well.


     
    Camouflage
    The rocket launcher (Martian Headshot l337 max) was colored in the usual way, and the army patterns were painted on a separate layer set to “Overlay” blending mode. The camouflage on her uniform was also painted on a separate layer set to “Hard Light”. Adjusting the opacity of the layers in the end is good to get the patterns as strong as you want. Now she fits more into her Martian surroundings!

    Sweaty skin
    The highlighted wet skin was painted on a separate layer set to “Overlay” blending mode. Use a textured noisy brush to make the wet skin appear more realistic, as if pearls of water or sweat cling on to hairs or skin pores. Too soft highlights will make it look more artificial. Now she looks like a hard working soldier girl, right?

     
    Finalizing
    For the final tweaks, I added some soft glow here and there, added some noise, and went over the piece a couple of times to sort out details I had missed.

    About the artist
    Henning is a Norwegian award winning digital artist, currently living and working in sunny Greece as the Art Director of a Norwegian/Greek computer game development company. He started experimenting with digital art in the 80’s on the Commodore 64 and later the Amiga platform before he was schooled in traditional art, and after that got eight years of experience in the advertising and commercial illustration industry. About six years ago he transferred to computer game development full-time, working with both 2D and 3D art. He is working on extra projects during his spare time, and also running a small art community called Pixelbrush. Clients include: ImagineFX, Fantasy Flight Games, Spiral Direct, Serono, amongst others.

    Related links:

    Henning Ludvigsen
    EXOTIQUE 4
    Ballistic Publishing
    ImagineFX magazine

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