So, you’ve journey into the art of portrait painting techniques and want to learn how to paint people. The artist that comes here truly is embarking on a fine art experience and deserves plenty of praise. Years ago, in the age of Renoir, great portrait artists were on their own as far as learning portrait painting techniques. Today’s artists have the ability to use photos and manipulate those photos, making portrait painting easier than ever! Following are some portrait painting techniques. Use these techniques with any medium and finally learn how to paint people.
Prepare and Gather Your Reference Photos
You will need three photos or pictures. The first is a black and white copy of the exact pose you will be painting. This copy must be the exact size of the finished portrait as well. The next photo you will need is any size of a color copy. The last will be a color one where you have manipulated the colors.
1. Black and White Photo
Enlarge a black and white photo of the portrait that you will be painting from photo on your computer. Print a copy in the desired size you want your portrait to be. This copy should at the very least be an 8 x 10, the larger, the better. The reason for black and white is basically so that you conserve color ink. You will use this copy to compare measurements to. You may also use this copy to determine skin tone values. This will be your working copy and will be discarded when finished. Plain white printer paper works best.
2. Colored Photo
Next, you will need the same pose but the photo is going to need to be colored. It doesn’t matter what size it is, but know that the larger the better. This colored copy will be used to match skin colors and to identify shadows and highlighted areas. When I paint people in portraits, I often place this colored copy into a clear food storage bag or see through sheet protector so that I don’t get paint on it. This colored copy is used for checking skin tone colors and for referencing lights and darks throughout your work.
3. Colored Manipulated Photo
The third picture I use in my studio is a colored one that I have enhanced or manipulated the colors. The colors you use or change it to really doesn’t matter. The idea is to change the colors so that the changes in skin color are more noticeable and obvious in the photo. This way there is no guess work involved when you are trying to see where a shadow or highlight starts or ends.
These are just a few portrait painting techniques that great portrait artists use to create lifelike paintings today. So take the time to find and print your working, black and white, your colored reference, and your colored manipulated photos to use as you begin your next portrait painting experience.