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Portrait
Step-by-step plan

Portrait

Step by step, layer by layer, it is explained how to build a portrait. How do you obtain depth, what are and how do you work with granulating colours?

What you need

  • Talens metal painting palette
  • Van Gogh watercolour pencil no. 348
  • Rembrandt watercolour brush series 135 no. 2
  • Rembrandt watercolours: Opaque white (106), Naples yellow deep (223), Gold ochre (231), Burnt umber (409), Burnt Sienna (411), Transparent oxide umber (417), Ultramarine deep (506), Cobalt violet (539), Permanent red violet (567) and Green earth (629)
  • Rembrandt Watercolour paper 100% cotton 

Tips

  • Watercolour is a painting technique, as the name says, with water. The amount of water you add determines the transparency of the paint. In watercolour you work with the white of the paper. From light to dark by painting layer by layer.
  • Each subsequent coat cannot be applied until the previous one is dry.
  • Because a watercolour brush has a very fine point and long hair, you can paint both very fine and very coarse.
  • Before you start, go through all the steps.

Step 1

The sketch

Make the sketch with watercolour pencil no. 348. Also indicate the shadow areas. Do not press too hard on the pencil, otherwise the lines will remain visible.

Step 1

Step 2

Warm undertone

Mix Burnt Sienna (411) with enough water. Skin is alive and therefore needs a warm undertone. Apply the paint in one motion, leaving the spots where light falls on the skin. Let it dry for a while. Then use Burnt Umber (409). Apply the paint with plenty of water and in one movement on the dried first layer. Go over the previous layer for a better colour gradient.

Step 2

Step 3

The first shadow

Use Transparent oxide umber (417) to darken the skin a shade. Paint this layer only over the parts that really need to be darker. The structure of the layers remains visible and this gives depth to the face. This is also a good shade as the first layer of the hair.

Step 3

Step 4

Shadow and dark areas

Mix Ultramarine deep (506) with Burnt Umber (409) for a warm black colour. Start with the darkest areas around the neck, jawline, along the hairline and as the second layer of the hair. Mix the same two colours with less water to work darker, for the eyes, the eyebrows and as second layer (structure) in the hair.

Step 4

Step 5

The light areas

Mix Cobalt Violet (539) and Transparent Oxide Umber (417) with enough water. Cobalt violet (539) is a granulating colour (characterized by the G on the tube). Granulating colours give a "grainy effect". This effect lends itself excellent for a lifelike skin texture. The mixture makes a bluish gray, as a counterpart to the warm brown tones. The brown looks even warmer. Finally, use only Cobalt Violet (539) to add accents.

Step 5

Step 6

The finishing touch

Eyes: Use Naples yellow (223) to give the white of the eye a realistic yellow tint.
Lips: Mix Permanent Red Violet (567), Cobalt Violet (539) and Opaque white (106) for the lower lip. Then mix more Opaque white (106) into the paint for the light grooves on the lips.
Face: mix Burnt Umber (409) with Ultramarine dark (506) and little water for the last dark accents in the face and Golden Ochre (231) with Opaque white (106) for the last light accents.
Background: let the portrait dry first so that the background colour does not flows in the face. Use Green soil (629) for the background. Keep about the same space empty all around.

Step 6

Portrait with watercolour

Other step-by-step plans with watercolour