Faces have always been my favourite thing to paint, but I’ve always found it challenging to get the shading on the skin to look nice. I’m not a formally-trained artist. A basic art workshop course taken when I was 15 is about the only formal training I ever had. So I searched YouTube for tutorials and was so happy to find one that showed exactly how to solve my problem!
I’ve been trying out the techniques and I love the result! Colors are softer, shadows are nicely blended, and the finished product looks very ethereal.
Here are some of my paintings using this new technique. (I’ll be selling prints of these in my shop soon, by the way.)
Here’s how to do it.
1. Lightly sketch your image.
2. Get a clean brush and wet the entire face with water. Do this fast.
4. Dip a wet (smaller) round brush into your already prepared watercolors, and lightly dot the darkest areas of the face with it. Do not overdo this, you can layer it as you go along. For the skin, I normally use a combination of yellow ochre, blue, coral, brown, and grey; letting the water do the mixing for me.
5. Gradually cover the entire face, making sure to work fast while the surface of the paper is still wet. If you want an area to have soft edges, lightly dot a clean wet brush on the edges, lifting the paint as you go.
Keep adding paint until you get the result you want. Redo the darkest areas when the paper is already almost dry, to get better shadows.
6. Paint the eyes last, filling in the inside with a pale wash and gradually building up with shadows and faint lines. Add the pupil, and then the lashes with a thin dry brush dipped in a black/brown mix. Get some pale blue and dab it on the outer edges of the eyeballs.
Paint the lips using wet on dry, using a pale wash first and gradually building up colour as you go. Leave some areas white if you want the lips to look shiny.
7. Finish the rest of the painting. I like to leave some areas rough and unfilled, to emphasize the face. Notice how I also added white dots on the eyes to make them look shiny.
And that’s it! If you do try out this tutorial, send me the link to your finished work! I’d love to see what you did.