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12 Easy Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

A watercolor portrait is a must-try for the watercolorist. It gives you a different perspective of the transparency that you can get with using this painting medium. The vibrant and transparent colors of watercolors are best to start your watercolor portrait and transform those pictures in a new dimension.

What are the easy watercolor portrait tutorial steps to follow for beginners? Can you work with watercolor portraits using a few colors to mimic a filter-like image? What are the factors to consider for a successful watercolor portrait painting?

Watercolor Portrait Painting

Watercolor portrait painting tutorial for beginners may be tricky. But we have simplified everything just for you. On certain instructions that you will easily catch up with. But before that, let’s prepare all the essential materials that we will need.

There are also a few factors that you need to take in consideration with. There are also a few tricks for your successful watercolor portrait painting. If you are having trouble or sketching an image is a challenge. Why not try tracing it as well?

You see, there are always solutions for artists. It brings out the creativity in you as well. Watercolors are great for portrait painting because of their transparent characteristics. The vibrant colors that you can get with them have a unique style.

 Watercolor Portrait Painting
An image of a child – 12 Easy Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

Let’s grab those materials and start painting your first ever watercolor portrait. And don’t forget to keep exploring and exposing yourself. It will help you enhance skills that are essential for your artworks.

Materials For Your Portrait Painting

If you are wondering what are the essential materials for watercolor portrait painting. Then check out this list for easy reference and guide. The materials that you use are always, almost the same, as from other painting techniques and style with watercolors.

  • Watercolor Paper – If it is possible, always use watercolor paper and not ordinary paper. They have different results when water is applied to them. Watercolor paper has a higher absorbency level than any other papers. You can check for the best paper that works for your style and preferences.
  • Watercolor paints – Be that of tube or pans, as long as you are most comfortable to work with. If you are starting off with your portrait painting, check for pans or palette as well. They usually have a variety of colors to start with. Try working with your blending skills as well.
  • Paintbrush – Use a small and a medium paintbrush and a mop brush. This can be a great combination to start with.
  • Pencil – To sketch or outline your subject image on your paper.
  • Photo Image – For your inspiration and to copy for your portrait painting.

Print the image that will serve as your inspiration for your watercolor portrait. You can work on different filters to print and try working with. But first, check for a subject image that has a great light source and shadow.

These two factors are great for still-life and realistic portrait painting. You will understand it more when you are exposed to this painting style.

Factors To Consider For A Successful Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

Watercolor Portrait
Dynamic watercolor portrait – 12 Easy Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

Before you start your watercolor portraits, it is best to consider a few factors. These factors are what makes or breaks the portrait painting when it is done. It also allows the artist to experiment and explore. Plus, a great deal to understand the unique characteristics of watercolors.

The painting surface is an important factor to consider. If you happen to use an ordinary paper for your watercolors, it will buckle when there is water present on the surface. The paints will not work as to how you wanted them to be.

The absorbency level of watercolors and made for painting. So best to get used to working with the right materials always. There are different types of watercolor paper to try. Do not limit yourself but try different types and brands. That way, you will easily find which one works best for you.

The paint colors that you will use depends on your style. You do not need to totally copy everything on your subject image. It is there for a reference and inspiration. You can try duplicating it over time but for now, just work on your style.

What you wanted to build depends on you. The painting should allow you to express. Check for colors and experiment with every blending. The shades and tones that you produced. Take note of them so you can easily predict colors.

Blending skills can be learned over time, with exposure. Once you mastered this, you have developed a great skill for the arts.

Easy Step by Step Watercolor Portrait Painting

Now that you have completed all the essential materials. And take every factor in mind, you are set to start working your first ever watercolor portrait. Have fun!

Step 1. Look for the subject image that you will work for your portrait. The secret to a successful watercolor portrait is the right subject image. Looking for enough shadow and light source is essential. This will be a bit tricky for a start.

Watercolor Portrait Painting
Monochromatic watercolor portrait – 12 Easy Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

Step 2. Posterize effects allow you to work easily. Check with your editor to modify your subject image.

As you advance, you will find the right angle for your portraits. It just takes a few try to do that. And looking at the subject image with different effects on your photo editor will help you decide.

This will also give you the right effects or filter on how you want your portrait to look like. The trick with using a photo editor is to minimize the number of colors that you will use.

If you can find a Posterize effect will be great. This will allow you to control the colors you will need. Less color for watercolor portrait, especially for beginners, is easier than a multitude of colors used.

Step 3. Minimize your colors to two. A darker shade and light shade. This will be easy to work on now.

Step 4. Check for the size of the portrait that you wanted to create. You can print the subject picture with the same size of your watercolor paper.

The trick as to having the same size for your printed image is for easy tracing or copying.

Step 5. Trace the image on your watercolor paper.

Easy tip to transfer your image accurately: Flipping your printed image. Then cover the backside with enough pencil marks for easy tracing over. The graphite from your pencil will help you trace your image easily.

Make sure you can cover the backside adequately. When you are done, flip it over again.

Watercolor Portrait
Watercolor portrait – 12 Easy Watercolor Portrait Painting Tutorial

Step 6. Tape your printed paper on your watercolor paper. This will prevent both from moving while you are tracing/transferring your image.

Step 7. Press and trace the outline of your subject image’s face. You can trace the whole image and just leave the background as it is. This will give you an outline of the whole image.

Step 8. Remove the paper when you are done tracing the outline. Check the outline sketch if you did it right.

Step 9. Work with your watercolor paints now. Choose the color that bests for you. Fill the outlined image with your desired colors.

Step 10. Keep on adding colors on the areas same as the subject image.

You can keep your printed image handy for reference.

Step 11. Use complementary watercolors. You can also add additional colors to give it a unique variety of colors.

Step 12. Once you have done all the outline of your sketch, fill the rest of the painting surface with colors. You can leave the background white to emphasize your image.

Just wait for the paints to be completely dried. And when they are dried, you are all set.

It is just easy to work with your watercolor portrait painting with these easy steps. Do a couple more with different colors if you wanted to.


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