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Portrait painting tutorial and video for dry brush painting technique

Dry brush painting technique

Dry brush painting

I recently started to experiment with dry brushing, it is a technique that allows you to make paintings that look like drawing in a fraction of the time. This technique is particularly efficient to make soft edged shading.

Portrait painting tutorial and video for dry brush painting technique


For dry brushing you need a few stiff brushes to paint details and one or two soft round brushes for shading.

dry brushing portraits

paint brushes for dry brushing


What works well for me is to spread a small quantity of oil paint on a piece of cardboard, then rub my brush on this paint, and dry if a bit on a paper towel before painting on the paper.

dry brushing portrait painting tutorial

Taking paint from the cardboard and drying the brush on the paper towel

dry brush painting supplies

I find it surprising but you can quite easily erase the paint on the paper with a kneaded or regular eraser, this is very convenient when adding highlights to your portrait.

I used watercolor paper with a very fine texture, you can also use bristol paper.

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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Carol January 1, 2014, 1:08 pm

    When the piece is completed, how long does it take the paint to dry? And then, do you do anything else with it? Sealant?

    • Sandrine Pelissier January 1, 2014, 3:08 pm

      There is so little paint on the paper with the dry brush technique that it is almost dry right away. I didn’t apply any sealant but I guess you could.

  • Lori Lukasewich July 22, 2013, 7:40 am

    Hi Sandrine,
    Are you working directly onto the watercolour paper or have you sealed it somehow?

  • Tom December 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

    How do you keep the paper from absorbing the paint and drying. I can’t lighten with a kneaded eraser because the paint drys so quick.

    • Sandrine Pelissier December 7, 2012, 2:57 pm

      Hello Tom, you want the paint to be really dry so it kinds of sits on the paper, that’s how you can remove it with an eraser. An eraser will work only for the light to medium areas, not on the dark areas.

  • lesliepaints July 4, 2012, 9:44 am

    Thank you, Sandrine. This is something I will definitely try.

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