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How Portrait Painters Paint You

These steps are described in this article, and they provide a foundation that you may use to paint portraits on your own.

#1: Place The Head On The Canvas

A portrait may be a headshot or full body scene. A headshot portrait finds the head in the center of the canvas. You can easily find the center of the canvas using a ruler or tape measure. A full body portrait requires more delicate head placement before you continue.

#2: Create Shadows Around The Hair

Creating shadows around the hair solidifies the placement of the head. A portrait artist can complete more details once they have created clear boundaries around the head of their subject.

Shadows may also be blurrier versions of hair, with softer colors and less defined brushmarks; shadows within the subject’s hair or on another object behind them will vary depending on the focus of the light.

#3: Create Shadows On The Bottom Of The Face

Shadows on the bottom of the face help to create the jaw line that the artist needs. These shadows also create the base for the neckline of your subject. These shadows may obscure the neckline, or they can create the boundaries of the neck and collarbone.

#4: Adding Flesh Tones To The Face

Flesh tones are added to the face until the artist has found the right complexion. Shadows on the face cannot be added until the proper skin tone is created, but the artist can begin creating shadows as they paint. The flesh tones take the most time because they must match the subject perfectly. Incorrect flesh tones may create the wrong impression of the subject, and tones that are too dark obscure the features of the face.

#5: Refining The Background

The background of the portrait accentuates the details on the face of the subject. The artist must shade the background to an appropriate color, and the background completes the portrait for the subject.

These five simple steps may take a lifetime to master, but they are the basics used by any artist who paints portraits. Ask your artist to walk you through the steps, and ask to see the steps of the process as your portrait is painted.