Boris Vallejo – a fantasy art king?

Without Boris Vallejo the fantasy art genre wouldn’t be what is is today.

I bring him up because studying his technique is an excellent way to learn the basic traditional and professional way to do fantasy art. Take a look at this image and I’ll describe how he did the artwork:

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© Boris Vallejo

Firstly, he is a naughty man who loves nude female bodies, just like me. Because of that he developed the habit of sneaking into a gym and ask female bodybuilders to visit his photo studio so he can take sexy images of them. The girls can show off and feel desired, while he enjoys the sight of them, takes photos of them, and shizaam… gets perfect photo references for his next artwork!

He now copies the proportions of the photo reference directly onto the masonite board (or what surface he is using), and smeares out some acrylic colors to ground his artwork and use as inspiration for the background. (He uses acrylics because it dries so quickly.)

Now he has a perfect full color photo of the sexy female bodybuilder next to his artwork and begins to copy it by hand to the artwork. He uses oil colors, much because of its malleability… perfect for making skin tones! He really doesn’t care much about the background, he loves the nude body and that’s what matters most to him. That’s why the nude figues always look so techniqally accomplished in his artworks, while the background usually looks like, well, some background.

Before the figure is finished he might play around a little with the background, especially the colors, so that the figure will fit in well to the surroundings. Then he finishes the figure and the background. Voilá!

I’d say that this is the essence of Boris Vallejo’s art technique. A perfect school book example of how to do traditional fantasy artworks that looks professional.

The key is to have a really good photo reference, passion and focus.

~Stefan Loå