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Portrait Painting Techniques

Scholasticus K
Portrait painting is as old and retro as the art of painting. Man has, forever, been fascinated about preserving his identity for everyone to see and portrait painting is a prime example of such a desire. To paint a portrait might seem daunting, but with these suggestions will seem easy and thoroughly enjoyable.
Portrait painting is an art that admires human beauty. Accomplished painters such as Rembrandt and Leonardo Da Vinci, are known to have created some great masterpieces, and have caught, not only the detailed features of their subjects, but also their emotions on canvas.
Here are some techniques, which have been suggested by artists, that can be used to enhance your skills at creating a portrait.

Starting Up

In has become a habit amongst many artists to use photographs to create their masterpieces. There are however, many painters who would recommend the use of live models and live scenes. The only motive behind it is that one is able to feel the scenario before actually starting to paint.
Another great advantage of such a subject is that the presence of light is almost hundred percent natural, which makes the painting, extra-precise. One must always remember that painting with a live subject gives an added advantage during the detailing process.

The First Sketch

Artists who use watercolors, usually start by first drawing a rough sketch on the canvas. Expert portrait painters often comment that this phase is an extremely important one, as the basic dimensions of the painting are put forth on the sketch.
According to art experts, making use of the appropriate medium, while doing this preliminary work, gives the basic sketch a great volume of depth. Pay attention to the details. It basically means that, you should use small pencils for detailed and intricate lines in the painting and charcoal or chalk for broader strokes.

Preparing the Ground

Several different techniques are used to make the ground of the painting. It is of utmost importance to understand the meaning of ground. In fact, it would be a great idea if you could view some legendary paintings.
An excellent example is 'The girl with a pearl earring', in which the ground is a challenging one to create as the subject is highlighted with innocent colors.
When you paint your art work, one very important aspect is composition of the ground, which implies deciding the color composition of the entire painting and selecting the areas which are going to be a part of the ground.
It must be noted that a ground is not only the background that you are supposed to cover, it may also include the clothes that your subject is wearing, or parts of the painting that are not very emphasized but, are not exactly parts of the background.

Painting the Soul

The next part is the most important one as here you will actually start painting the portrait or the subject of your painting. One common technique is to paint the entire sketch and then go on to detail it. Such detailing often takes a lot of time and people often deploy it even during the usage of acrylic paints. This step is basically a four-fold process.
The first step is to draw the basic features of the face such as the eyes, nose, chin, and eyebrows. Some artists prefer to sketch these deep and intricate features with charcoal first.
The next step is to add depth and light to the features of the face, and it is usually done with the help of darker and more versatile sub-shades of the colors that have been used to paint the face.
Next, we detail the features again, but, with the thinnest possible brushes. The last step is that of the external detailing where the subject and ground are effectively merged with each other.
Many art experts often recommend the use of a different technique every time, as each and every portrait is unique and depicts different emotions and a character. The mentioned techniques are generic and will act as a small guide for normal portraits. Innovating based on these guiding techniques is an important aspect of making the painting a master piece.