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Secrets to Great Portrait Painting for Beginners

December, 2017

Drawberry is sharing some secrets to great portrait painting for beginners

Have you ever admired a great portrait and wished you could paint like that? Even if you believe that you have no drawing talent, you can at least try learning portrait painting techniques and see how it goes. Who knows, maybe you will become so good at it that friends will be ordering human or pet portraits from you soon. And we all know that the biggest regret one may have is about not starting something they really wanted. Here are the steps you can take now to learning how to create beautiful painted portraits.

Paint yourself

If you are just starting to learn, start with a self-portrait. Pick a time when no one will disturb you for a while and start by drawing your portrait with a pencil (you’ll be able to add paint later). Set up an easel and a mirror in front of you. Get a soft pencil and study your reflection in the mirror paying attention to every feature. It’s best to have the light on the side opposite to the hand you work with and slightly above your face. The kind of paper you use at this stage doesn’t matter, so grab whatever you have at hand, as long as the piece is larger than your face, so you can draw a life-size portrait.

Pick a time when no one will disturb you for a while and start by outlining your portrait painting with a pencil

Start with one of your eyes

The most prominent and most detailed feature on your face is your eyes, so you will want to study your eyes first. Or rather just one eye. Look at the eyelids, lashes, the exact shape of your eye and proportions. Try drawing the eye as close to what it looks like in reality as possible. Once you are happy with the result, start drawing the rest of your face from there, paying special attention to sizes and proportions. Use a ruler if needed to measure distances: your eye will serve as a measuring unit, you will need to compare the width and length of other features to your eye and draw them accordingly.

The most prominent and most detailed feature on your face is your eyes, so start the drawing with your eyes first

Look straight and stay still

You will get the best result in picture painting if you try to stay still, keep at the same distance from the mirror and look straight at your reflection. First time portrait painting is not the right time to try various poses. Do your best to stay facing the mirror while you move your eyes onto the paper when drawing.

You will get the best result in picture painting if you try to stay still, keep at the same distance from the mirror and look straight at your reflection

Do some shading

When you are satisfied with the shapes and proportions, it is time to make your portrait painting look a bit more natural. Study your face to see where the shades are and what parts of it look a bit darker. Lightly shade those parts and watch your portrait come to life and start looking almost like a photo painting.

Shade the parts that need it, and watch your portrait come to life and start looking almost like a photo painting

That should do it for your first time. If the result is far from what you hoped for, try turning a photo to painting next time. You can even simply trace your photo and add some finishing streaks to it for a very lifelike portrait.

However, many people discover that they have greatly underestimated their artistic talent. Portraits aren’t as hard to do as it may seem. Once you practice with self portraits a few times, you can move on to working on family painting, couple paintings, animal portraits and so on. Don’t have a pet? Not a problem, as you can practice creating pet portraits from photos. If you find yourself loving this activity, don’t stop at pencil drawings: move on to learning how to use various paints and work on some oil portraits next. The opportunities are endless and even if you don’t end up quitting your main job to become a full-time artist, you will get hours of enjoyment out of being creative and doing something that makes you happy.

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Never painted before? See how easy it is to start drawing great portraits with these simple tricks for aspiring artists

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