Thursday, September 22, 2016

the vargas pinup

vargas pinup 1920's

what's vargas amazing secret?

there were four major steps to the making of a vargas pin-up: three sketches and the final work. 1- he set down a quick sketch on a "cheap little pad." 2- at this juncture that Vargas had recourse to a model if he had "serious doubts about anatomy" or to check how light falls on the body. 3- a final preparatory sketch was done in chalk on a heavier stock, usually heavy vellum. some watercolor for lips and eyes was sometimes added to this chalk study. after tracing the major features of the drawing with a hard pencil vargas washed the watercolor board and allowed it to partially dry, and then he began painting with "windsor newton" watercolors mixed with a small amount of glycerin.

pinup, 1930's

now the figure was worked up in a series of subtle washes. clothing and props come later, drawn in chalk or pencil on the finished figure and were also completed in watercolor. sometimes cloths were applied as cut-outs and attached to a finished figural work. vargas used an airbrush (which applies a soft mist of aspirated pigment) over the finished watercolor to soften and blend the features.


click here for vargas's illustrations for playboy throughout the 1960's-1980's, the beauty of the images is not at the same level of that of the 1930s and 1940s: the glamor and mystery are gone, and so is the vargas's touch of excellence for detail.

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