Painting a Portrait of a Girl
Although I have less experience painting humans, I really enjoyed this painting. This is part of a larger portrait featuring a sister and brother and their Lab. I took detailed progress photos of the girl's painting progress for a tutorial.
I started with the original photo and made a quick sketch. The likeness in my sketches is never very accurate since I don't do much shading, but I was happy with the perspective and overall shapes.
I started by painting in a peachy undertone for her skin. Her skin texture is very fine, and I used many layers to capture her glow. Portraits look pretty strange before the eyes are painted in...
Next, I painted in the rough shapes of the eyes and teeth. I decided to paint in more of the face first before moving on to the hair, since the face is much harder and I wanted to get it right first.
I added some shading in lighter and darker tones of my original mix. I purposely made the contours a little too dark, since they will be covered with transparent layers of pink and white later in the portrait and I want the color to shine through instead of looking flat. With my blending technique, I create a wide range of shades in the same color family to work from. It's still pretty rough but it's starting to look a little more like her now.
Next, I made a mixture of Burnt Umber and Carbon Black for her hair. It's similar to the shade of her eyes. There's a little bit of shine on the left side of the photo since the paint was still wet when I took the photo.
I warmed up the brown mixture with a bit of Yellow Ochre and Quinacridone Magenta to make the red highlights in her hair.
I then used the transparent Zinc White to add a sheen to her hair. You can see it most on her bangs.
In dog portraits, the most difficult part is the eyes. In human portraits, I find the mouth the most difficult. Subtle changes in the mouth drastically affect the look of the face. I realized that her lips and edges of her teeth were too dark, so I lightened them with more layers of Zinc White mixed with pink. This is better:
I adjusted the color of her hair some more, adding dark and light areas, and reduced the height of her head a little bit by painting over the top in white paint and letting it dry. The background covers the rest. I then did more overall refinements of her face, adding eyelashes and more layers of white and pink here and there to bring out the shape of her smile. Here's the finished portrait with the background. You can see a little bit of her brother's arm around her. You can see the full portrait in my gallery.