You Will Need
- An easel
- A volunteer model
- Directional lights
- A camera
- Drawing and painting surfaces
- A sketching medium, like charcoal or pencil
Set up your easel.
Let the model dress
Let the model, who should be dressed and coiffed in the way they want to be immortalized, get comfortable.
Pose the model
Pose the model in a way that is comfortable, but interesting.
Do not let the model show teeth. They’ll end up looking like a monster, or worse.
Light from the side
Light the model from the side with a powerful, directional light. Avoid flat light.
Take a lot of photos.
Give your model a break
Give your model a short break.
Sketch your model
Sketch your model in charcoal, conté, pencil, or pastels.
Try to get a handle on the composition, contrast and the shape of the face. Pay special attention to particularly interesting features, like the shape of the model’s eyes or nose.
Give model another break
Give your model another break.
Do more sketches
Do at least one more sketch, with the final one in color.
You may wish to use watercolors or acrylics for this last rendering. Oils also can be used, but the cleanup time is longer, which takes more out of your model and slows down the discovery process.
Release the model
Thank and release your model.
Develop the pictures
Develop or import and print the photos.
Prep your painting surface, supplies, and materials.
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.
The photos will give you a literal translation, but the sketches are where the real artistry will be found.
Block shapes and colors
Begin the portrait by blocking in the general shapes and colors.
Refine your shapes
Refine your shapes.
Limit but innovate
Look for ways both to limit and make surprising use of your color palette.
Paint until done
Paint until you’re satisfied. It’s tough, so the first few—or few dozen—might not turn out great.
What is believed to be the oldest known portrait was created some 27,000 years ago on a cave wall near the town of Angelouême in present-day southwestern France.