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Article: Painting Portraits

Painting Portraits

Painting Portraits

I’ve always enjoyed painting figurative works, especially portraits, they can be quite challenging but are equally rewarding. My lessons guide you through the intricacies of painting eyes and also perfecting skin textures. You will learn techniques to help you create paintings which capture the real essence of someone’s character.

I also include a grid diagram and reference image to ensure your proportions are accurate.  

Portraiture work requires a number of different techniques and brush control is paramount. In my tutorials I give you step by step tuition, with small scale blending tips to help you create the perfect skin tone.  If you are able to zoom in to the reference image it makes getting the correct skin tone easier to accomplish. See my video tutorial 'Woman in Black' here

My ‘Elderly man’ portrait was something a bit different. There are lots of elements in this tutorial to test you, from the aged skin, facial hair to glasses.

This gentleman's beard has a lot of colour variation and texture, the hairs are not all long and consistent thickness, there are a lot of short coarse hairs with loops! Paint consistency and a steady hand is really important! Be careful you don't paint the hair too thin or thick, keep the thickness of each hair as close as possible to the original photo to create the realistic look. 

I use the Rigger brush to create these fine details, building the hairs up, to develop texture and depth. Available here 

See my YouTube video here, for a detailed look at creating the fine facial hairs, elements that highlight this distinguished gentleman’s character.


Fine intricate details of the eye and skin texture can be a challenge for many artists.  There are so many tiny intricate details in my 'How To Paint An Eye' tutorial you will learn how to move from the fine detail to soft out of focus look.  Achieving the glassy effect of the eye was highly rewarding and detailing the skin texture and fine hair is a great skill to perfect.  

I use the series 6 short flat brush a lot in my portrait paintings. In this particular painting, it was the perfect brush to enable me to achieve the texture of the skin.  Dabbing the paint on with small dots and gradually building up to the desired texture giving a fine mottled finish.

I used a very soft brush to blend the paint in small areas which created a smooth finish.

Once you’ve mastered the valuable skills learnt in my tutorials, you will find they are great tools to use in many other subjects. Remember, it’s really important to take your time with the sketching diagram, making sure you get the proportions as close as you can.

My Professional brush set includes all the brushes you will need to paint perfect portraits. Available to purchase here

 Happy painting

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