How to Paint Portraits


Painting a portrait could be a daunting task for an unskilled, amateur artist. With this artistic cheat, however, people will believe you were trained by a master. Using a digital camera, paper and pencil to transfer your subject to canvas allows you to paint within a guide. You could also discern proper shading for your portrait by looking at a digitally altered image.

Things You'll Need

  • digital camera photo editing program printer paper pencil tape canvas acrylic paint paint brushes

The Easy Way to Paint a Portrait

  • Snap a photo of your subject with a digital camera.

  • Alter the image in a photo editing program to make the lines and curves of your subject's face more prominent. Achieve this outline effect by pairing "photocopy" and "colored line" photo filters onto your image. The result should look similar to a coloring book page.

  • Re-size your image in accordance with the size of your canvas and print it out.

  • Turn the printed out image over. Color the entire backside of the page with a pencil. Press hard.

  • Tape the image (pencil side down) to your canvas.

  • Trace the image with your pencil and press firmly so that the image properly transfers to the canvas.

  • Mix flesh colored paint. Mix the darkest shade found on the face first. Then make several lighter variations by adding increasing dabs of white to each new shade. Do the same for hair color, eye color and lip color.

  • Open your image in the digital photo editing program again. Place a gray scale or black and white filter over your image. In the absence of color the darkest to lightest colors of the face become clearer.

  • Dip your brush into the darkest skin shade. Looking at the digital image as a frame of reference you could see what areas should be the darkest shade. Now use your paint dipped brush to fill in those areas within the outline of your canvas.

  • Keep referring to your digital image and tackling one shade at a time. Completely fill in the face. Paint eyes, lips and hair using the same technique.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't have photo editing software a host of free programs are available on the web (see Resources).

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