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Layering watercolor for portraits on ARTiful, painting demos by Sandrine Pelissier

A watercolor portrait painting tutorial, layering technique : I wish it would snow Flowers

Painting a portrait with watercolors can be tricky, you have to paint a believable skin tone color and avoid too many hard edges on the face so it looks soft.

This is the picture I used as a reference, I modified in on paint shop pro to remove the background. I would love to work from life but unfortunately it is difficult to find that kind of time with children :-)

This is the picture I used as a reference, I also like to work from lifebut it wasn’t possible in that case. I removed some of the background with a picture editing software so it would not be too distracting.

Here are the steps I took

This is my drawing, the paper is Arches cold process. I am using some liquid frisket to reserve the white in some part of the hat and the tiny highlight in the eyes.

I started by making a detailed drawing on my paper (Arches cold process) and then used some masking fluid to preserve a few highlights like the highlight on the pupil and some white areas on the hat.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

Daler-Rowney Masking Fluid

This fluid is used to create striking white highlights or to mask areas for overpainting at a later stage. It forms a fast-drying, water-resistant film on watercolor paper and board, and is easily removed when dry.

This is my first layers of yellow, mainly with Yellow ocher for painting the face.

When layering I always like to start with the yellow layers as yellow will probably be the least transparent of the colors I am going to layer, then it makes sense to have it underneath.

On the background I used Cadmium Yellow.

I also used Cadmium Yellow on the background.

watercolor tutorial, layering colors to paint portraits

When the yellow layer had time to dry really thoroughly, I start working on the red layer. With red and even more with blue, you need to be careful not to add too much paint as they are intense colors.

watercolor portrait painting demos: painting colors separately

After the red layer, you can start applying the blue layer, with very pale layers. It is always easier to add more color than taking it off.

painting with gouache on top of watercolor

Keep on adding layers until you are satisfied with the colors. I left some texture on purpose on the background and some back runs also on the hat to add interest.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

Da Vinci Artists’ Permanent Watercolors, 292 Yellow Ochre, 15 ml

Da Vinci paints are exciting, intense, and rated among the best in the world for quality. The paints are permanent, with the highest tinting strength and pigment concentration available, and a creamy consistency for smooth, easy dispersion with water.

 simple watercolor paintings, paint portraits by separating colors

If some edges are too hard, you can soften them with a stiff brush and water.

painting with watercolor pencils dipped in water.

If you want to, you can use watercolor pencils to add patterns in the background of your portraits.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

 

Derwent Watercolor Pencils

These professional-quality, water-soluble pencils offer the freedom to switch from drawing to painting in an instant, with no change in tools. Use them to shade on dry paper, then quickly wash over with brush and water to get a blending effect. – Watercolor Pencil Sets

I wish it would snow Flowers
Watercolor and mixed media on paper
15 x 22 inches

Click on image to purchase original or print