What Is Important to Know About Painting Portraits?

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Painting portraits always requires you to keep a few very important things in mind. Learn a few important things about painting portraits with help from a graduate of the Maine College of Art in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Oil Painting Basics
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Abbeth. I'm an artist out of Portland, Maine and I'm going to show you what is important to know when painting portraits. I would say probably the most important and often overlooked thing when painting portraits is proportion. So I'm going to start with kind of a neutral tone by mixing together a few different colors, some white and yellow ochre, red, burnt umber. With these colors and a little bit of black you can get pretty much any skin tone that you're looking for. So I'm going to show you now about the proportions of the face. So you're going to draw an upside down egg shape on your page and that is going to be the head. The eyes are halfway down the head believe it or not. Often people think they are higher up on the face but they are actually right in the middle. Halfway down from that to the chin will be the bottom of the nose and then halfway down from the nose to the bottom of the page will be the lips. Once you've charted that out, draw a line vertically up the center of the face and that will be where the nose is when you're looking head on and the distance between both eyes is actually the width of an eye so you can chart out the spacing of the eyes on your page and the eyes are sort of almond shapes and once you have these basic proportions down, you can sort of sketch in the outlines of the features, add some eyebrows just a little bit above the eyes and the neck comes in a little bit from the lower side of the face. And once you have that basic structure sketched out, it will make it much easier to go in and add individual features on the face. Also remember when you're painting a portrait, to think more about the light and shadow on the face than the individual features after you've charted out this basic structure of the face. My name is Abbeth, and I just taught you about painting portraits.

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