Step by Step Portrait Painting demo in Acrylics

Steps fo Acrylic Portrait Painting on Canvas:

Choosing the right profile:

This  Acrylic portrait painting was commissioned by a son for his father’s 85th birthday gift. His father was completely fit at this age and happily agreed to the photo shoot for this painting. From multiple shoots, I decided to take this profile of this gentleman. I have found a beautiful eye expression here, though it was tough for him to tackle the strong sunlight for that moment. The dark background really highlighted his blond hair beautifully.I have used five brushes for this painting. Two of them are hog hair flat of size 10 and 8, other is size 6 filbert and two synthetic brush of size 0 and 2. Let’s discuss the steps that I followed during this painting.

Outlining with Burnt Amber


Getting started:

After the sketch with pencil, I usually prefer to outline the marking of the pencil with an earth color to prevent pencil smudge during further painting. In this case, I am using Burnt Umber.

First flesh layer application
Laying down the first coat:

I don’t follow any hard and fast role for applying flesh tone in a portrait painting. In this example, I have lightly applied Burnt Sienna and Zinc White. Using any white with semi-transparent color like Burnt Sienna gives a little opaque finish. Which gives a nice base for the face to work with. And yes, adding Crimson with white here and there was just an experiment.

Experimenting with shadows and highlights
Its all about experiment with colors:

In this stage, I have tried to add more depth to the face. For that, I use Ultramarine Blue with Crimson and little White. I have applied Yellow Ochre with Cadmium Yellow Medium very lightly to give the expression of sunny reflection of the skin. I have worked on few highlighted areas with White and Crimson and Yellow Ochre. In this stage, I have applied the background to give myself the impression of the depth of the painting.

Working with Background, Shadows, and Cloths
Playing with background:

I have lightly applied background with Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue for a feeling of depth of field. For the shirt color, I have used Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Crimson with little Burnt Umber and White. For highlighted areas in the shirt, I have used Yellow Ochre with Cadmium Yellow and White.

Blending with Highlights and Shadows continues
Blending continues:

Mixing and blending continue till I get the desired effect on the face. I have used a pinch of Cobalt Blue for highlighting shadow area for the face in this painting. Because it has the reflective light from the environment. In this stage, I have applied the blond hairs with a very soft brush. I have used White along with a pinch of Cadmium Yellow Medium, Yellow Ochre, and Cobalt Blue Hue. You can see at this stage that the face area is almost completed but the neck area still has works to do. I usually work the neck area later, because it has slightly darker tone than the face.

The Final Painting in Acrylic
Final touches:

Finally, its time to work on some detailing on the painting. The hairs, eye reflections, eyebrows, spectacles, age marks on head and shirt collar linings are completed with a much smaller rigger brush with precision. The advantage of Acrylic painting is that you don’t have to wait too long for the existing layers to dry. About 10 to 15 minutes is enough to work on layers and glazing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *