Beginners’ Guide to Portrait Painting

When learning acrylic, oil, or watercolor portrait painting secrets, one must practice and study if they want to be happy with their end results. Although all artists are distinctive, many ways of portrait painting that they all employ remain the same. Below are a few kinds of stuff you will need to master as a seasoned portrait artist properly.

Getting a Proper Sketch on the Canvas.

There are various ways to get a proper sketch on a canvas. Many use and teach the age-old grid method. The grid method lets you draw a grid of similar squares on the canvas and over your source photograph. Now sketch on the clean canvas what you see in different equal squares. This technique is a way to create a picture using shorter manageable sections, bit by bit. My preferred method is so simple that it requires almost no creative abilities at all. This technique is called the charcoal outline style.

Learn the Primary Skin Tone Colors- A must!

Unless you only plan to paint one portrait, you should become accustomed to various color combinations for different skin tones. For instance, a light skin tone is alizarin crimson mixed with titanium white and a pinch of rich cadmium red. Adding some cadmium yellow to this blend properly warms the color and produces slightly darker tones. Once you have about two or four tubes of color, you will be able to produce all skin tones.

Understanding Highlights and Shadows

Learning how to apply highlights and shadows is a simple technique that you can not leave out. You generate shadows by adding darker paint to your chosen skin color. The skin around the nose, under the eyes, and shadow parts will need to be adequately darkened most of the time. Highlights are just as crucial as shadows. Some skin features that need to be painted much, much lighter are the roundness of the nose and cheeks and upper eyelid. Final bright highlights in the eye and on the lips are vital.


Here are the six important things to master if you want to paint a portrait as a beginner.

  1. Choose an appropriate reference photograph.
  2. Understand the right combination for skin colors.
  3. Use the squares method for a better division of labor.
  4. Always start with the eyes.
  5. Understand shadows and highlights.
  6. Pay proper attention when adding detail.

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