Painting Watercolor Portraits Easily: Steps to Success

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Painting Watercolor Portraits Easily: Reflection

Painting watercolor portraits easily may seem impossible to most but in this live demonstration and article, I’ll show you a simple process that will ensure success with practice.

This was a challenging reference photo, but I really liked the strong light source coming from the right, and the cast shadows on the subject’s face, especially the left side.

I painted this portrait in two main steps. Firstly, I added all the lightest colors. In this case, I painted all the lighter yellows on her face and hair, green and blue on her shirt, eyes. It’s important to keep this wash wet and paint it quickly so that it dries more evenly. Make sure you cut around the eyes too!

Lips are tricky to do and you often feel like you need to create defined edges for them. Remember that lips often have soft edges and one of the best ways to paint them in is using wet-in-wet techniques, or simply softening the edges with a damp brush.

Eyebrows, eyes, and eyelashes are notoriously difficult to paint. I used a number 4 round brush to feather in three layers of eyebrows. Wait until each layer has dried before going back in again. I painted each eyelash with a down and up movement. I talk more about this in the workshop and go through a separate demonstration for this.

Some improvements I could keep in mind for next time include creating more softness in the darker area of her hair nearest to her forehead. If I’d painted the dark areas as the paper was barely damp, it would have created a softer edge but still enough of an edge to mark the boundary between forehead and hair. At the moment I think it looks a little too harsh, but I can always go back into it again with a filbert brush and soften some edges.

The full workshop is available here. I highly recommend you watch and follow along to help you gain an adequate understanding and application of the techniques and processes I describe.

Painting Watercolor Portraits Easily: Steps to Success

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