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Free portrait painting techniques : India ink, watercolor and watercolor pencils


portrait painting techniques with watercolor and ink

Some Flowers bloom in Winter,
India ink, watercolor and watercolor crayons on paper,


Click on image to purchase Original or Print

Click on image to purchase Original or Print


My latest watercolor portrait, I used India ink for most of the face, then watercolor for the red areas and added the patterns with a watercolor pencil, here are some of the steps I took:

Portrait painting techniques : India ink, watercolor and watercolor pencils

stretching paper for watercolor painting

This time I used Canson cold press as my paper (140 lb), I stretched it before starting to draw.

drawing on watercolor paper

I did draw a rough outlines of the face.

ink portrait painting technique

Here I start painting with India ink, going from light to dark.

reserving whites with masking fluid for ink portrait painting technique

I did reserve a bit of the white with masking liquid in the iris highlight and corner of the eyes.

watercolor and ink portrait painting tutorial

I start working in watercolor with a mix of 3 reds : scarlet, carmine and madder lake red, with a bit of emerald green for the darker reds

step by step watercolor and ink portrait painting tutorial

I paint a loose background.

splashing water on watercolor

When I am happy with the painting, I go to the scary drip and messing up stage.

splashing water on watercolor

I let it dry, then will remove unwanted stains and add definition to the flower. I am then drawing patterns on the background with a watercolor pencil.

painting with watercolor crayons

Some Flowers bloom in Winter, India ink, watercolor and watercolor crayons on paper

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{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Kerridwen January 6, 2013, 9:27 am

    Wonderful painting! I love how the red really contrasts with the ink.

  • jakethrasher February 25, 2012, 1:43 am

    I am a highschool art student and I REALLY like your work. I think you are the best watercolorist I have ever seen. I use watercolor sometimes, but I just get the cheap kind in the white box with the little ovals of paint. Do you use that kind or the tube kinds? Also, have you ever used anything other than water to mix with your paint? I recently did a painting using acetone (Fingernail polish remover) and water, and since acetone evaporates faster than water, the paint has really cool texture and alters the color a little. I really like your splatters, by the way!

    • Sandrine Pelissier February 25, 2012, 8:21 am

      Hello absentzombie and thanks for your comment!
      I find that the quality of the paint is important if you paint on regular paper but not so much if you paint on yupo paper for example, but I am not spending a fortune on paint as I don’t need so many different colors. I usually paint with a mix of paint in tubes (Da Vinci and Winsor &Newton) for the basic colors and then I also use a box with pans from the “yarka” brand, they are professional quality and their price is reasonable.

      As for mixing the paint with something else than water, I use soap when working on yupo which has more or less the same effects as gum Arabic, because it makes the paint more manageable. On regular paper I mostly use water and sometimes I am spraying alcohol but your idea of using acetone and water is very interesting and I will give it a try. Thanks for sharing !

  • nakedcarlyart February 23, 2012, 10:45 am

    I love this, jus beautiful. A very heartwarming piece.

  • stephen coley (@stephencoley) February 22, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Just discovered your website… Love the portrait. The messy bit is always the scary part, but always the most effective.

    I’m off to browse the rest of your website now :-)

  • melankooli February 22, 2012, 4:08 am

    Watching the process is so personal, brilliant stuff:) water colour is such a methodical medium, great to see you define each step, love it!

  • newmexicomtngirl February 21, 2012, 11:09 pm

    This is just so fun and bright. Love the messy red
    How ever did you get the PIN under the picture?
    I’m missing something
    peace n abundance,

  • Lisa Graham Art February 21, 2012, 10:58 am

    This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your process!

  • berene February 21, 2012, 10:53 am

    Sandrine, I really like the monotone black and white with the hit of red. And of course the patterns. Love the patterns! Your girls are growing up – it’s interesting how their lives are being documented by your paintings.

  • Maria Zarif February 21, 2012, 10:33 am

    I like your portrait and I also think your a really good artist but I just don’t understand WHY do you do the messy part in the end? I mean like I just do t get it… Sorry if I am being rude or anything but here curiosity is killing me!

    • Sandrine Pelissier February 21, 2012, 11:56 am

      Hello Maria,
      I cannot discuss a matter of taste , you are totally entitled to like it better before, but on my side I like the process of making the image less “clean” or “tight”, a bit less readable. Of course there is no right or wrong here as once again it is a matter of subjective taste.

  • incaunipocrit February 21, 2012, 9:10 am

    Reblogged this on ATA MOTEK.

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