Watercolor Portrait Tutorial: A Comprehensive Guide
Watercolor painting is a beautiful and versatile medium that can be used to create stunning portraits. This article will provide a detailed walkthrough of a watercolor portrait tutorial by Jordan Rhodes, a renowned artist known for his mastery of watercolor techniques. The tutorial video can be found here.
Before we delve into the tutorial, let’s gather the necessary materials. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Strathmore 500 Series Gemini Watercolor Paper (300 gsm, cold press)
- MaimeriBlu Watercolor Pan Set (or the following colors: cadmium red light, yellow ochre, paynes gray, burnt umber)
- Princeton AquaElite Brush (Round Size 12)
- Princeton Neptune Brushes (Round sizes 8 & 12)
- A regular brush (size 8)
- A flat brush (half inch)
- A half inch angled brush
- A piece of copy paper and graphite for sketching and transferring the sketch onto the watercolor paper
Step 1: Sketching and Transferring
Start by sketching the portrait freehand on a piece of copy paper. Once you’re satisfied with the sketch, color over the back of it with graphite. This will allow you to transfer the sketch onto the watercolor paper, ensuring you only have to draw the sketch once.
Step 2: Wetting the Paper and Applying Base Color
Begin by wetting the surface of the paper with a size 12 Princeton brush. Once the paper is wet, apply a base color. In this tutorial, a cerulean sky blue is used. As you apply the base color, consider the values of your portrait. For instance, the hair will likely be one of the darkest values. Also, remember to preserve the white of the paper for your highlights.
Step 3: Adding Color and Detail
After the base layer has dried, use a size 8 round brush to paint in the colors you’re seeing. Start with burnt sienna and gradually add more colors. As you move to different areas of the portrait, consider adding color shifts for more depth and realism. For example, add a bit of quinacridone and permanent rose matter deep to the lower neck area for a red tone.
Step 4: Painting the Hair
While the painted areas dry, switch to painting the hair. Mix a dark greenish color using cuprich green deep and dragon’s blood. Apply this color to the hair, understanding that it will take a few layers to reach the desired darkness.
Step 5: Refining and Finalizing
After the paint has dried, go back in with a half-inch stroke brush to add more blocky fields of color. Use yellow ochre to knock back some of the highlights. Switch to a size 2 round brush to get in smaller details. Continue refining the painting, adding harder edges and geometric shapes according to your personal taste.
Step 6: Adding Final Details
Towards the end of the painting process, add a few details to hint at the shirt and a bit of the background. Once you feel like you’re not making much of a difference anymore, it’s a good sign that the painting is complete.
Watercolor painting requires patience, planning, and a keen eye for detail. This tutorial provides a comprehensive guide to creating a watercolor portrait, but remember that each artist’s process may vary. The key is to experiment, practice, and develop a style that you’re comfortable with.
- A tutorial by Joanna Barnum on danielsmith.com, where she explains her process of painting a watercolor portrait: https://danielsmith.com/tutorials/joanna-barnum-watercolor-portrait-step-by-step/
- A tutorial by Elisabeth Larson Koehler on artstudiolife.com, where she provides a step-by-step guide on painting a watercolor portrait, emphasizing the importance of value, and giving specific color mixing suggestions for each step: https://artstudiolife.com/watercolor-portrait/
- A YouTube video tutorial (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPvHp9ca7xw) that may offer visual guidance for painting a watercolor portrait.