Creating Art from Photos: Sabrina

One of my most challenging, yet rewarding, commissions was a portrait pin-up illustration I did for a wine label. I was hired by the owners of Wein-Bauer, Inc., a wine distribution company in the Chicago area, to create a pin-up color illustration for one of their vintages. The model is their daughter, Sabrina Bauer.

The clients hired my photographer friend, Rob Domaschuk (who also shot the reference shots for me of Playboy model, Carlotta Champagne). Although this was Sabrina’s first professional photography shoot, she is a natural pin-up model—a striking beauty with lovely curves who took direction well. After a couple of hours Rob shot some nice photos. We eventually chose the photo below as a reference.

Model: Carlotta Champagne; Photographer: Rob Domaschuk

As you can see in photo 2, I first drew an outline of the photo in pencil on Bristol board and then proceeded to start coloring Sabrina’s hair, which was one of the most difficult parts to capture. I wanted to add a lot of detail and contrast there. I then moved down to her face and arms to get the proper blend of color for her skin tone. Colored pencil is different than my normal medium of graphite, which I mostly blend with my fingers. Colored pencil doesn’t blend with fingers, however, so I needed to layer different colors on top of one another and then use the colorless blender to smooth out the edges. This method takes more patience on my part to get the desired results.

Photo #2

As you can see from photos 3 and 4, I gradually built up the colors on Sabrina’s arms and legs. I also made her dress much tighter and shorter. I also started working on her shoes at this point, trying to get a more slender style.

Photo #3

Photo #4

In photo 5, you can see that I had the dress almost completed and began working on the stool she’s sitting on. While I was still working on the skin tones, Sabrina was for the most part complete. The drawing is beginning to take shape and some of the minor elements, like the wine glass, are getting detailed.

Photo #5

The next photo shows the completed drawing as delivered to the client. At their suggestion, the stool is completely changed from what I originally laid out. The dress is white with blue tones to create the folds and shading of the fabric, as is the stool cover. I emphasized the tones in Sabrina’s legs with some white highlighting and drew her shoes into slender pumps to accentuate her legs. The final touch of ruby red lips fits the retro pin-up image.

Artist: Vincent Wolff; Model: Sabrina Bauer

Overall, everyone was happy with the product. However, the drawing didn’t photograph well and was too wide for the wine label so it couldn’t be used. It was disappointing, but Sabrina was very happy with the art and took it for her personal use. This made the whole project extremely satisfying—while I didn’t make the cut for the label, a young lady was very pleased with the artwork of her, which is a great thing.

Vincent Wolff

Vincent Wolff is a fine artist who, while experienced in many types of art and medium, specializes in the female figure. As a traditional artist, he creates most of his artwork with graphite, colored pencil, or acrylic paint. His website is

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