Can you help me draw classic cheesecake facial expressions?
Alf Jones, US
In my view, the facial expression is the defining element of true pin-up artwork. Pose, costume and setting all play their part, of course, but for me pin-up is all about attitude. Choosing an expression that correctly communicates that attitude is essential. The key elements here are confidence, humour and enjoyment.
Confidence is best demonstrated through direct eye contact with the viewer. This shows that your pin-up is unashamed of whatever situation you have chosen to place them in, and helps to welcome your audience into that situation.
Humour doesn’t necessarily mean that your image has to be funny or contain a gag, but whatever you choose to paint, your pin-up should have good humour. They should react to their situation in a positive manner, with perhaps a wink or a cocked eyebrow, or open-mouthed surprise at something in the scene.
Enjoyment is perhaps the most important aspect of your character’s expression. This communicates that your pin-up is a willing participant in the scene and is in control of the situation. If your pin-up is enjoying what you’ve painted it’ll help your audience to do so, too! A smile or laugh is obviously the best way to get this across.
A three-quarter profile and a slight downward dip of the head is a classic pose. Note that the smile is not just on the lips but also the cheeks and eyes. Even with more contemporary styling, the right facial expression ensures that this character has a classic pin-up feel.