How to Paint a Portrait That You Won't Be Embarrassed To Share


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Creating a beautiful portrait is a skill that anyone can learn with the right guidance. Whether you're an experienced painter or a complete beginner, with practice and dedication you'll be able to create beautiful works of art. Before you start to paint, it's important to make sure you have all the necessary supplies, find a suitable workspace, and settle on a subject. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you create a portrait you'll be proud to share with the world.

Invite a Friend

The first step in making this challenge fun is to invite a friend to participate alongside you! Not only will this increase your motivation and output, but it will also help you improve your painting as you and your friend share tips and progress shots along the way.

The easiest way to invite your friend to participate in the challenge is by setting up a new goal in Elephants, and then inviting them to participate via whatever normal social media channels you'd normally use.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you can get started with painting, you'll need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies. Start by gathering your paints and brushes. Acrylic paints are best for portraits as they are easy to work with and come in a wide variety of colors. You may also want to have some thinner available, such as turpentine or white spirit, in case you need to thin out any of your paints. As for brushes, get a selection of different sizes and shapes. Make sure they are made of natural bristles (as opposed to synthetic) as they will give you better control and more accurate results.

You should also have some other supplies on hand, such as a palette, a rag, and a container of water. The palette will be used to mix your paints, the rag can be used to wipe off your brushes, and the water can be used to clean your brushes. Having these supplies ready will make your painting process much smoother and more enjoyable.

Prepare Your Workspace

Now that you have all your supplies, it's time to set up your workspace. Find an area in your home where you won't be disturbed, and make sure there is plenty of light. Set up an easel (or another suitable surface) to place your canvas on, and arrange your paints and brushes nearby. Make sure the surface you're painting on is clean and flat so your brush strokes will be even.

It's also important to make sure your workspace is comfortable. Place a chair or stool in a position that allows you to reach your canvas easily. Make sure you have enough space to move around and access all your supplies. If you're painting outdoors, make sure you have a way to protect your supplies from the elements.

Choose a Subject

Now that you've got your workspace ready, it's time to decide on a subject for your painting. You can choose someone you know, or if you prefer, find a reference photo online that inspires you. It's important to choose a subject that you feel a connection to, as this will make it easier to capture their personality in the painting.

When selecting a subject, consider the colors and shapes that you want to use in your painting. Think about the mood you want to create and how the subject will fit into that. If you're having trouble deciding, try sketching out a few ideas to help you narrow down your choices. Once you've chosen a subject, you can start to plan out the composition of your painting.

Remember, at every stage of your painting, take a photo and share it into your goal on Elephants. Not only will this allow your other goal buddies to see where you're up to, but as the stories build up over time it'll mean you get an awesome montage of your painting journey. Win win!

Sketch the Outline of Your Portrait

Once you've chosen your subject, it's time to begin sketching out the outline of your portrait. Start by sketching the general shape of the head, neck, shoulders, and torso in pencil. Make sure to pay attention to the proportions of your sketch and keep refining it until you're happy with the result. Once you've finished the outline, use darker pencil strokes to add the details such as eyes, nose, mouth, and hair.

When adding the details, take your time and be sure to pay attention to the small details. For example, when sketching the eyes, make sure to add the eyelashes and eyebrows. For the nose, add the nostrils and bridge. For the mouth, add the lips and any wrinkles or creases. Finally, for the hair, add the individual strands and any highlights or shadows.

Apply a Base Layer of Paint

The next step is to apply a base layer of paint. Start by mixing a skin tone that matches your subject. Use thin layers of paint and build up the coverage gradually until you have an even layer on your canvas. Make sure to leave some areas unpainted as this will make it easier to add details later. To finish off the base layer, lightly shade around the eyes, nose, and mouth to give the portrait more dimension.

Once the base layer is complete, you can start to add details such as hair, clothing, and accessories. Use a smaller brush and thin layers of paint to create the desired effect. You can also use a variety of colors to add depth and texture to the portrait. When you are finished, you should have a beautiful portrait that you can be proud of.

Add Color and Details

Now that the base layer is finished, it's time to add color and details to your portrait. Start by adding color to the eyes, nose, lips and hair using your chosen paints. Pay close attention to the shadows when adding color - make sure that each color has subtle shadows and highlights for more realistic results. Once you've added color, use small brushstrokes to add details such as wrinkles, freckles or strands of hair.

When adding details, use a light touch and take your time. Don't rush the process, as it's important to get the details right. You can also use a fine-tipped pencil to add extra details such as eyelashes or eyebrows. Once you're happy with the details, you can add a few finishing touches such as a background or a frame to complete your portrait.

Refine and Enhance the Painting

Now that the basic colors are in place, it's time to refine and enhance the painting. Start by adding thin layers of paint over certain areas of your portrait - this will help even out any areas that look blotchy or uneven. If there are any parts of your painting that need more depth or contrast, use darker colors or thicker layers of paint to add more definition. Finally, use a small brush and thin layer of paint to add highlights - this will help bring out certain features of the painting.

You can also use a variety of techniques to add texture to your painting. For example, you can use a dry brush technique to create a rough, textured look, or you can use a wet brush technique to create a smoother, more blended look. Experiment with different techniques to find the one that works best for your painting.

Finishing Touches and Finalizing the Painting

The next step is to add some finishing touches. Use a thin brush with white paint and lightly go over certain areas of your painting - this will help bring out more detail and give it a more polished look. Finally, sign and date your painting so that everyone knows it's yours!

You can also add a few more details to your painting, such as a few highlights or shadows. This will help to create a more realistic look and make your painting stand out. Once you are happy with the results, you can frame your painting and hang it up for everyone to admire!

Take Pride in Your Finished Portrait

Congratulations! You've just created a beautiful portrait that you can be proud of. Now that it's finished, take some time to admire your work and appreciate all the effort you put into creating it. Be sure to share it with your friends and family and your goal group on Elephants to really show off your masterpiece!

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