How to Paint People – The Easy Way

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How to Paint People – The Easy Way

How to paint people is a common question that many beginning portrait artist search for on the Internet or in bookstores. Chances are that they have attempted to paint a persons’ portrait and were not pleased with the results. There are a few tricks and painting techniques that can be used so that an achievable portrait can be produced. I will explain a few of the easiest ways that I’ve found to learn how to paint people.

Get An Accurate Drawing On Your Canvas

If your drawing is to capture the likeness of a certain individual, you will want to sketch the portrait in pencil prior to painting. You can free hand this if you are not good at drawing. A couple of easier methods however are to use a grid and duplicate the photo to the canvas by drawing or replicating the individual grid squares. Another and my favorite method, is to print a paper black and white copy of the photo, then completely darken the back of the paper with soft charcoal. Next place the paper on your canvas and with a sharp pencil, simply draw over the printed photo. You’re sketch will appear on the canvas like magic!

Paint The Indication Of People

One of the easiest ways to paint people is to keep things simple and paint just the indication of people. If you’re confused than don’t be. The easiest way to explain what I mean is for me to describe this with an example. Imagine a beach scene with a couple strolling hand in hand far in the distance. If you were to examine the people closely, you would probably see that they are merely shapes. Each head would simply be a round shape on top of a triangle shaped body, on top of two rectangular shaped legs. Two quick rectangular shaped arms connect the bodies. Add some highlights and you have simple people!

Paint Only Part Of The Person

Many artists struggle with accuracy when painting people. It’s true that a person’s features must be accurate in order for a portrait to be successful. If you choose poses that depict side views or partial views you can cut your work in half and create interesting portraits by only painting the half of the face that you actually see. For example, try painting a child’s profile at the beach vs. the child facing straight on.

Paint Unknown People Or Strangers

Another fun and easy way to paint people is to paint strangers. The reason for this is that you are not trying to get an exact likeness. If you’ve made their nose too large or too small, no one is going to know the difference! You can use magazines, books or other paintings to get some ideas. Let’s say that you took a photo while at the park of an elderly lady sitting on a park bench and reading a book. You decide to turn the photo in a painting. The painting would still be interesting even if the lady didn’t resemble the actual photo at all, because no one knows her anyways.

Don’t Paint What You Can’t Paint

A great technique for painting humans is to choose poses that don’t require a lot of detail. One way to do this is by painting subjects who are wearing sunglasses, if you are timid about painting eyes. If you’re uncomfortable painting teeth then paint closed mouths or drape a scarf across the face. A very cute pose for a child’s portrait is to have them peek from behind something. You will only see part of the face and it is an adorable scene with only part of the face showing.

By following these easy tricks and techniques, painting people should become easier and more enjoyable with every painting you attempt. How to paint people the easy way can be made simple by keeping the task simple!

Photo by Ian Sane

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