How to Paint a Portrait

It’s like a personal photo, except classier, and you can make the model look slightly more attractive than they really are.

You will need

  • An easel
  • A volunteer model
  • Directional lights
  • A camera
  • Drawing and painting surfaces
  • A sketching medium
  • like charcoal or pencil
  • Brushes
  • Paints

Step 1 Set up Set up your easel.

Step 2 Let the model dress Let the model, who should be dressed and coiffed in the way they want to be immortalized, get comfortable.

Step 3 Pose the model Pose the model in a way that is comfortable, but interesting.

Step 4 Light from the side Light the model from the side with a powerful, directional light. Avoid flat light.

Step 5 Take pictures Take a lot of photos.

Step 6 Give your model a break Give your model a short break.

Step 7 Sketch your model Sketch your model in charcoal, conté, pencil, or pastels.

Step 8 Give model another break Give your model another break.

Step 9 Do more sketches Do at least one more sketch, with the final one in color.

Step 10 Release the model Thank and release your model.

Step 11 Develop the pictures Develop or import and print the photos.

Step 12 Prepare Prep your painting surface, supplies, and materials.

Step 13 Use the sketches to remind you On the final piece, use the sketches and photos to remind yourself about what you saw as important features.

Step 14 Block shapes and colors Begin the portrait by blocking in the general shapes and colors.

Step 15 Refine your shapes Refine your shapes.

Step 16 Limit but innovate Look for ways both to limit and make surprising use of your color palette.

Step 17 Paint until done Paint until you’re satisfied. It’s tough, so the first few—or few dozen—might not turn out great.