Paint with Me: Dramatic Portraits in Watercolor & Colored Pencil | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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Paint with Me: Dramatic Portraits in Watercolor & Colored Pencil

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Getting Started: Supplies & Reference Images


    • 3.

      Base Layer


    • 4.

      Dividing the Light from the Dark


    • 5.

      Adding Initial Detail with Watercolor


    • 6.

      Adding Detail to the Face with Colored Pencil


    • 7.

      Further Developing the Figure


    • 8.

      Adding Detail to the Hands


    • 9.

      Deepening the Background


    • 10.



    • 11.

      Change of Plans...


    • 12.

      Class Project and Wrap Up


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About This Class

One of my recent obsessions is painting portraits with dramatic lighting, where there is really clear definition of light and dark in the subject. I’ve learned that these portraits in many ways are easier to tackle than subjects with more subtle lighting. So, if you feel comfortable with your observational drawing skills and are looking to dive into portraits, come along with me as I show you my approach for creating moody, emotive portraits with watercolor and colored pencil.

This class is part of my “Paint with Me” series, where you come along with me, like you’re hanging out in my studio for the afternoon, and I explain the process of a mixed media painting step-by-step. You’ll get to see me work to address the different artistic challenges I encounter along the way, and hear me talk through how I solve them. I'll also toss in little tips and tricks along the way for getting the most out of mixed media.

What we’ll cover

Together we’ll work through each phase of the painting, working through layer-by-layer of watercolor and colored pencil to create a finished mixed media painting. Some of the specific points we’ll touch on include:

  • Choosing and working from a reference with strong, dramatic lighting
  • Watercolor blending and mixing techniques for mixed media
  • Layering colored pencil over watercolor
  • Seeing and translating values and different kinds of shadows

What you’ll need

For this class, you’ll need paper, watercolor, brushes, and colored pencils. The supplies do not have to be the same brands or colors that I use, but I have listed these in the Class Project section in case you’d like to take a look before getting started.

Who should take this class

As with other classes in my Paint with Me series, we will focus solely on the painting process and won’t spend any time on the drawing so you will need to have a solid foundation of drawing skills, and be able to create your own sketch for the painting.

While drawing experience is a must, you actually don’t need to have specific experience with portrait painting. In fact, this course is especially suited for folks who are comfortable drawing overall, but don’t have much experience with portraits yet.

Not quite ready to dive into portraits yet? Here are some foundational classes to get you set and ready for painting anything you want, including people:

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator


My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Intro: Hey guys and welcome to my studio. My name is Kendyll Hillegas. I'm a freelance, artist, and illustrator. My commercial work is used in a lot of applications, both in editorial. So for newspapers, and magazines, surface pattern on fabrics, and clothing, and parallel and on retail products and packaging. Whenever I'm not painting for a company, one of my favorite things to do is to paint portraits. I have had a recent obsession, which is painting portraits with really dramatic lighting. Something I've learned with this is that in many ways these types of subjects, these portraits with dramatic lighting are easier to tackle than subjects with subtle lighting. Because of this and because you all have requested a class on portraits many, many times, I have decided to go ahead and create a class based on this process that I've been doing to create portraits with really dramatic moony lighting. As you can see by the title of the class, this is part of my Paint with Me series. The hallmark of my Paint with Me series is that you all come along with me as I create a piece from start to finish. It's almost like you are hanging out with me in my studio for the day, watching me as I paint, as I explain step-by-step what I'm doing. For this dramatic portrait with moony lighting, I'm going to be using one of my favorite mixed media combinations, watercolor and colored pencil. Together we will work through each phase of the painting, each layer of the painting, building basic structure, and form, and values with watercolor. Building middle details with watercolor, and then building greater and greater, more refined details with subsequent layers of colored pencil. Some of the specific points and skills that we'll touch on include choosing and working from a reference with really strong dramatic lighting. What makes for a good reference for this type of portrait and why I chose the reference that I ended up choosing. Watercolor, blending, and mixing, and layering techniques that are especially useful for working with mixed media. How to lay a color pencils on top of watercolor and create really smooth, beautiful gradients from light to dark and seeing it translating values in different types of shadows. We're going to go over all of that and a lot more since you're going to see the entire process start to finish of a painting. In terms of supplies, if you want to do the mixed media approach that I do, you'll need some kind of a watercolor, and watercolor brushes, and some colored pencils. They don't have to be the exact brands or colors that I use, but I will have those listed in the class description in case you want to take a look before getting started. To get the most out of this class, I would really recommend that you have some experience, some comfort, a good foundation with observational drawing, and if you're really relatively comfortable with drawing from a reference photo to create a sketch to work from. As with other classes in my Paint with Me series we are not going to be spending any time on the drawing. All of the time is going to be focused on the painting itself. You really will need to have a decent foundation of drawing skills in order to be able to jump in and participate in this class. A little bit of experience with watercolor would be helpful as well, but I wouldn't consider it strictly necessary. You do not need to have specific portrait experience. If you're comfortable with drawing and you feel like you have a good foundation with drying, but you haven't really tackle portrait painting yet, this could be a great place to start. Because subjects with those really highly defined visible light and dark values actually make it easier to see some of the structure and shape of the face and understand how the planes fit together and work together. I can't wait to get started painting. I'm really excited to dive into this subject and take you along with me. Let's go ahead and get started. 2. Getting Started: Supplies & Reference Images: Just getting started here, I have my fine art paper, which is a really, really heavyweight, 300 pounds Ultrasmooth Watercolor Paper by Fabriano. You can use a different type of paper, you can use a smooth watercolor paper that's lighter weight, though I really don't recommend going anything that's lighter than 140 pounds as that will make it difficult to layer colored pencil on top, and if you use a paper that's lighter than 300 pounds you may also need to tape it down to avoid warping. I have my basic drawing on it, and as I mentioned in the intro, we're not going to go over anything related to drawing in this course. This is all going to be about the painting process. But basically my drawing just covers the essential proportions, the essential anatomy, and gives me a sense of where the light areas are going to be and where the dark areas are going to be. I'll just pop up a digital version of my sketch so that you can see it more clearly here and see the areas that are defined within it. A question I've gotten a lot over the years is "what type of pencil should you use for a sketch that's going to go under water color or colored pencil?" It's really up to you. There's a lot of different options. I tend to prefer for something like this where there's going to be a lot of dark values that will eventually cover up the sketch pretty well. I tend to prefer just a super hard regular graphite pencils, so something like a 6H. But you could also use a watercolor pencil which would allow you to dissolve the lines so you ultimately wouldn't even see the lines of your sketch. That has its advantages and disadvantages though, as you may end up actually wanting to see some of the lines of your sketches as you continue to work. I also have my palette. I'm using this little rose porcelain palette, has lots of different little wells and it's great for use with watercolor. Then I have a variety of different brushes. These are pretty much all-round brushes except for that one oval brush there on the left-hand side, and then a quill brush also on the left-hand side. I'm not really sure which of these I'll use if I'll use all of them, but I've pulled them out just in case. Then I've got my watercolor. I'm going to be using Hydras Watercolor. This is a liquid watercolor. It's a highly-concentrated pigment suspended in a liquid, you can use tube watercolor or pan watercolor if you want. I just really like using liquid watercolor, it's become one of my favorite mediums over the years so that's what I'm going to use on this piece. I have a really simple palette. I essentially just have a warm yellow and a cool yellow, and a warm red and a cool red, and then a cool ultramarine blue, and that's all I'm going to be using. Then I also have a little piece of tests paper here. This is the same paper that I'm going to be working on. Just the end of one of the larger pieces from when I broke the paper down into smaller bits. It's really important to have a little test strip that is made up of the same paper that you're using because the colors can look different from paper to paper. I also have my reference image here, which I will pop up on the screen periodically. This image is just something that I grabbed from a free use public domain image site called Pixabay. There are lots of these sites out there. If you just Google search "public domain images". On that note, all of the images that I'm about to show you were pulled from Pixabay or another public domain image site. Now the reason I chose this image was because I first and foremost wanted to have something with a really dramatic light and dark. Dramatic lights and darks make it easier to see the anatomy of your subjec. This is something that is especially helpful for beginning artists or artists who are just starting out with portraits. For example, here you can see in this image there is a really dramatic light and dark. This is a different image than the one that I have, it's certainly not as moody. This is shot outside and natural light, but there's really dramatic light and dark. Compare that to this image where there is not much dramatic light and dark. Most things are a light value and there's not a lot of visible shadow on the face. Now, let just zoom into their noses for reference here. If you see in the really dramatic one, her nose has really clearly defined planes compared to the less dramatic one where the planes of the nose are not as visible. This is just one small example, but I hope this will show you why it can be really helpful, especially when you're first getting started to have lighting that is pretty dramatic, where there are clearly defined planes and clear lights and darks. Now the next thing that I liked about this image was that it was moody. I wanted something that was going to have a really dramatic feel. Something where the darks, we're going to connect the darks of the subject. We're going to connect to the dark of the background. Some other images that would have this look are these sorts of images that were shot in a studio. But you don't necessarily have to use a studio image. Another great setting could be one that's near a window. Another setting where there would be a dramatic difference between light and dark. Another thing that I really liked about this image was that the light source itself was visible, was a subject in the image, and that it had a really nice diffuse, warm light. These are some other images that I think fit that bill and you can see each of them give a very different feel and you can create an image that's cozy and hopeful, or an image that's spooky and dark. Now, I'll have all of these images as well as the reference image that I used in the class materials section. 3. Base Layer: Now it's time to dive into some actual painting. So I'm just getting started by putting some paint in my palette. This is a cool yellow, a lemon yellow. I think actually in this brand, it's called hansa yellow, but essentially it's a cool lemony yellow. I'm watering it down a ton. I want to get it to where it's super, super light, really translucent so I just keep adding more and more water until it's the right translucency for me. Once I've got it right, I'm going to start adding it to my paper, laying it down on my paper. I'm using the largest size brush that I have. This is a quill brush. I'm essentially going to lay this down across the entire surface of the substrate. So this is going really everywhere on this painting except for the little folded paper box that the girl is holding. I'm going to leave that area white, but pretty much everywhere else is going to have a layer of this really light hansa yellow. Now I want to do a bit of wet on wet. I'm going to add some warm red. This is a cadmium-type red. I'm going to add some warm red over the top of this lemony yellow. I'm switching for a little bit to a flat brush. This wasn't one of the ones I initially thought I was going to use, but I've decided to use it right now anyway. I'm just working my way across the entire surface of the substrate. Once again, the only area that I'm not touching at all is the little white paper box. I'm just working my way over and across everywhere where I laid down that yellow with a super, super light wash of the cadmium red. The reason I'm doing it this way as opposed to just mixing the lemon yellow and the cadmium red, is that it's going to give me a really nice uneven effect. So some areas will be a little bit more yellow, some areas will be a little bit more pink, and some of that is going to show through the additional top layers of the illustration, of the painting and it's going to give a really beautiful effect. There are some areas where I want there to be more of a concentrated warmth, so I'm going back in with the quill brush and adding higher intensity, a larger amount of the cadmium red to those warmer areas. I'm just, for the first time here, really starting to slow down and look carefully at my reference image and at my subject, at the sketch that I have underneath and make sure that I get those warm areas in the right spot. Most of them warmth is going to center around the face of the subject and of course, the hands holding the little paper box. The reason that is, is that the face is getting a lot of the cast light, the light that is coming up from the light source in phases, like hands actually have a lot of blood vessels in them so they tend to look really red when light is cast directly on them or through them. That's why the hands will have this really kind of luminous effect that's lit from within because they are actually being lit from the light source so that's what's causing them to look really warm in red, so I'm adding extra of the cadmium red to those areas. Now I'm getting ready to move on to creating the background and adding the first wash of dark to the background, but before I do that, I've actually just changed my mind and decided that I want to use my brush to really quickly sketch out some little floating lights in the background. I'm not going to follow the reference particularly for this. I want to just do what I think is going to look nicer in the composition so I'm just using my gut instinct and putting these little floating lights where I think they'll look best. 4. Dividing the Light from the Dark: Now I am moving on to the first layer of the dark background. I have mixed up my own black here, which is essentially equal parts cadmium yellow, so two drops of cadmium yellow, quinacuidone rose, two drops of quinacuidone rose, and then two drops of ultramarine blue. I'm starting off in some of the smaller areas, the tighter areas that require more attention and that need me to follow a particular line. I'm just blocking things out everywhere where there's a black background. I am laying down my black paint and I'm trying to stay really tidy and keep that black paint off of the other areas where it's not going to end up eventually. Wherever there's a sharp edge like the edge of the face or the edge of the white paper box, I am getting right up close to the subject and trying to create that nice crisp edge with my brush. But in some of the other areas where there's not going to be a sharp edge, I am not going right up to the edge, if that makes sense. I'm leaving myself a bit of a buffer zone so that I can blend it out with either a lighter color of watercolor or some colored pencil when I add that on in the later layers. Just as I have been doing with the figure and the paper box, I am tracing out these little floating lights in the background with the black paint. I'm using a quill brush, once again. A large quill brush is really great for this sort of thing because it does let you get down to super detailed sharp areas, and it still holds a ton of paint and a ton of water. It lets you cover a lot of ground before you have to go back to refill your brush. I didn't used to use quills much, but they have over the last few years become one of my probably top art supplies, probably my favorite brush shape overall. I really recommend them if you haven't had a chance to try them yet. The quills that I'm using in this painting are all artificial. I do have some natural bristle quills, but over the years I have moved towards trying to do all synthetic quill brushes, all synthetic brushes in general. You can get really great, quill brushes that are synthetic ones that in my opinion worked just as well as the natural bristle. I'm not paying too much attention here to the quality of my brushstrokes. I'm mainly just trying to get things down in the right place and make sure I have a sense of where that dark background is going to be later on when I do other layers of watercolor and eventually colored pencil I'll be able to focus more on the surface texture of the painting. But for now, I'm just trying to give myself a road map of the darks and the lights. I think that's about it for now. I'm going to pause on the dark background and move on to the next phase. 5. Adding Initial Detail with Watercolor: Now that I have the lights all laid down, I have that uniform layer of lemon yellow, and cadmium red. That's what is forming the background, and then I have this second layer of black on top. I'm now ready to start adding some areas of greater,in greater detail. I'm starting by mixing up a delicate black, brownish color, and I'm going to use that to paint this little wisp of hair that's hanging down over her face, and then I'll use that same color really watered down, to start blocking in where I have some of the shadow areas on the face, so that I can get clear on where the anatomy is, where the light areas are going to be, and where the dark areas are going to be. In general, my approach with watercolor is to be really, really delicate and to work up to the darkest darks, but because this subject has such intense darks, and there are some areas that I can clearly see are just going to be black eventually. I'm a little bit braver and I'm going ahead and laying down things that are darker from the get-go. Essentially, I am just looking at the reference image, and I'm picking out the areas that to me look like really obvious lights and darks, and I'm trying to simplify those shapes, her eyebrow or her nose, the side of her nose, trying to look at those shapes and understand them in their simplest form. Always thinking about the face as this three-dimensional object that's being lit by the light from below, and trying to use my brush to lay those areas down so that I have a road-map later on for when it's time to actually create more nuance and pay attention to the color and the finer details of the anatomy. For now, I'm just looking for the big, really clear and lights and darks. At this phase, even though you guys probably can't see it in the footage, I am still able to see the really light lines from my sketch, so I'm continuing to follow those and using those as guideposts to help myself put these dark areas and light areas where they need to be. As I'm working on the hands here, you can probably see that I'm leaving the very edges of the fingertips, untouched by water color, since those areas look to me in the reference like they're lighter, like they have some light shining through them, I want to be sure to leave those blank, to leave those empty so that I can add on either other layers of watercolor or colored pencil later on. I'm really only adding this super dark brown to the areas that already really look dark in the reference image, and I am actually even going a little bit further back from the edges. I could probably fill in a bit more of the hands with this really dark color, but I want to leave plenty of room in order for me to be able to lay down the lighter colored pencil and then also to blend it out with some mid tones of colored pencil, and here at the bottom of the subject, I want to add in some of the brown color to try to create a gradient, a little bit of a fade from the shirt, from the subject shirt, which is actually fairly light, It's not as light as the paper box obviously, but it's quite light in comparison to the background, but just having a really hard edge or hard stop is not going to look very realistic. I need to feather it out, fan it out, and create more of a softer gradient going from the really light of the shirt, to the dark of the background. Now that I have the initial shadows, the initial detailing and shadows laid down, I can see that I want to push the color much more in a warm direction, especially around the edges of the face where the light is a little bit more diffused, and some of the shadow areas which will get darker, but we'll have a warmer undertone to them. I'm working across the hands, and the edges of the face, adding in another wash and another pale wash of the cadmium red. This is a bit more intense than the wash that I laid down on the background, but it's still really light, it's mostly water, and the reason I am doing this after having laid down that initial black background, if you are familiar with proper watercolor technique, usually watercolor technique is working completely light to dark, starting with your lightest colors like I did, but then you would add subsequently darker and darker washes, darker and darker layers with each edition, with each layer that you add of the watercolor. But in this case, because the subject-we are working from the reference photo that I'm working from is so dramatic and has such dramatic lights and darks, I felt like it was important to have at least some sense of how dark the background was going to get, as a reference point, as a point of comparison, because you really can only see value as it relates to other values, something is only light because it's compared to something that's darker and vice versa, it's only dark if it's compared to something light. Having that down from the beginning is enabling me to really be more accurate on some of these middle tone areas on the face, than I would have been if I was working out just from light layer to lighter, well, from lightest to, slightly darker. If I were doing that, it would take me quite a lot longer, so this is enabling me to have that point of reference and to lay down the right values from the beginning. All right, and now I'm mixing up warmer purple and then a bit of a cooler purple, both of these have quite a lot of gray in them, they're are going to be pretty muted, and this is what I'm going to use to shade the little paper box. To me it looks like this left-hand side and the top triangle, the top flap are a bit warmer, so I'm doing the warmer muted purple up there, and then I'm going to use the cooler muted purple in the area where there's an actual or there's some overlap in the paper, those areas look a bit cooler to me, so I am painting them accordingly. At this point, I am continuing to adjust the value that I see in the piece, the darks and the lights, so the more mid tones I add, the more accurately I can see where I need to actually push things a bit darker, and that's where having this really dark background already laid down comes in extra handy, and it's super helpful for enabling me to see those values as I compare them to one another, I'm also bouncing back and forth between a few different brushes here, which is helping me to keep things soft. I tend to lay things down, or at this point I am tending to lay things down with a smaller brush with the smaller round brush, and then coming back in with the brush that's a bit damp, that doesn't have much paint on it at all to feather things out, and in a lot of areas I'm working wet on wet, which means I am laying down one layer of water or slightly watered down pigment and then laying down more pigment on top, and this is also helping me to achieve that nice sort of diffuse softness. This is also where it's coming in extra handy that I have laid down some of the shadow areas, a road-map for some of the shadow areas with a more mid-tone brown. Now, and I want to come in and lay down that actual really dark brown or something that's pretty close to the black of the background. I feel a lot more ready to do that and more confident in my placement, and I can just lay that right down to get those values accurate as compared to the other values around them, and that's part of why I think this subject is actually really good for beginners or beginning portrait painters, because there is such a dramatic light and dark, and you can really clearly know what you're comparing to, we have the little paper lantern, that's the pure source of light, that's the brightest thing in the entire composition, and then we have the super dark black background that is the darkest thing in the composition, so we have both ends of the value spectrum really clear and , we're able to compare all of the other values that are in the subject to those values- to the darks and the lights. When I'm looking at the back of the hand or the side of the face, and I'm trying to determine how dark it is, I have a very clear dark value in the background to compare it to. Anytime I'm asking myself, ''How dark do I need to go with this?'' I just compare it to the dark of the background and ask myself, is it darker than that? Or well, it couldn't be darker than that because that's black, but is it as dark as the background or is it lighter than the background? Then the inverse is true, with the light areas I asked myself, is this as light as the paper lantern or is it darker than the paper lantern? And having those two hand holds to compare is going to make it a lot easier to build realistic and believable values. All right, and now I am just adding some other soft shadows, trying to feather out some of the edges where there's a bit of a gradients in some places where I want the shadow to feel softer. This is going to make my job easier later on when it comes time to lay down colored pencil, and at this point, I have decided that I want to warm things up on the face and the hands even more than I already have, I'm coming back in with another really light wash of the cadmium red, and I have it watered down quite a lot, and I'm coming in with a big soft brush so that I can get a really nice diffuse application of that color. I want it to feel like a glow, I don't want it to necessarily be describing any specific planes, I don't want there to be any hard edges, I just want that nice warm glow essence. I'm also adding it to some of the little dots, some of the little floating lights in the background, so that they won't all be the same color. I want to have some that are warmer, some that are cooler, more yellow, and it's becoming pretty clear to me that the dark that I laid down initially on the side of the nose is actually not nearly dark enough, so I am bringing that down to a deeper, darker value, and I'm using a bit of a purple color, a muted purple to do that, and I'm also adding some muted purple to the side of the neck and the side of the face, some of the shadow areas, and that's going to look really nice as a complement to some of these warmer hues that I have going on in the rest of the portrait. Now I have finally gotten sick of mixing up my own black, so I've added some black from the tube. I think it's just called carbon black in this line, and I am working my way across the entire piece with that black, just trying to deepen the background and get it to a relatively even finish where its an even level of darkness all the way across. 6. Adding Detail to the Face with Colored Pencil: I am done with watercolor for now, and I'm going to move on to colored pencil as we get to the part of the painting that has more and more detail. To get started, I'm pulling out my big box of colored pencils here and I'm doing what I always do, which is building a palette with colored pencils. Rather than just digging through my entire giant container of them, I am looking at the reference image and picking out the pencils that I think I'm going to use, and I'm going to be most likely to use throughout the painting. I may not use all these colors and usually, I would say I end up using somewhere between half to three-quarters of the colored pencils that I put in my palette. It's nice to just have the ones that I know I might be thinking of, that I might reach for, to just have them all in a dedicated pile rather than having to dig through the big container. That's what I'm doing here. All right, I've got my palette, and you can see it is a lot of yellows and oranges and muted warm browns, those things. Then a few really dark browns, dark grays and black, of course. I am starting off with the nose. The reason I'm doing that is that I have based on the reference image, I feel like I have a really good sense of where the shadow on the nose is, and how dark it should be, compared to the other dark's in the piece and the other lights in the piece. There's no particular reason that you have to start with the nose. A lot of people I know like to start with the eyes. For me, I feel like the eyes are so important that I sometimes feel intimidated to start with them. Usually, I find myself starting with the nose or the mouth. Here, I've chosen to start with the nose just because there is a lot of good information about it in the reference image and it's really easy for me to see. I'm trying to get some of that down. Lay down that initial shadow on the side of the nose, and also get down some of the colors. Some of that refracted warm light that's coming up from underneath, get that down underneath the nose as well. Just as I did when I was working in watercolor, I'm trying to go slowly. Even though I do feel like I can see pretty well how the value of the shadow on the side of the nose compares to the really dark values around it, I still want to be cautious and not just go right in with a super heavy layer of dark brown. Some of that's just because it's how I like to work and it's what feels natural to me. Also, it just gives me a little bit of a buffer and makes it easier for me to dial it back or to fix something if I feel like I've made a mistake. Before I get really dark with the side of the nose, I'm going to go ahead and add in some more details, some more dark areas, some more shading and form around the rest of the face. Here I'm using a pale vermilion, which is just a really nice color. It's a warm, a little bit muted orange. I'm adding some of that into the shadow near the lips. I've also used it under her right eye, the eye that we see on the left as well. Then going in with peach, a few different shades of peach and beige, using those to build up some of the more delicate shadows that are around her mouth and the sides of her nose. These ones don't have a lot of black in them. They're warmer shadows. I'm trying to keep them really soft and make sure that I don't go too dark or too black in those shadows. I'm finding that I'm not really reaching for many yellows. I'm mostly using peaches and oranges and a few more muted really dark pinks in the shadow areas. Just continuing to work my way across the face, adding more detail, more complexity, tweaking the values, pushing things darker if they need to be darker, and then of course, tweaking the colors as well. I'm taking most of my color cues overall from the reference, but I certainly am making decisions about ways that I want to tweak things slightly or move things in a different direction than I see in the reference. For example, in the reference, I feel like there's a lot of orange and the areas that have color in them have primarily orange as an overall overtone undertone. I want to move in a little bit of a more nuance direction. I want there to be a play between warmer colors and cooler colors in the lighter areas. Overall, all the colors that are going to be in the lighter areas will be warmer. I want there to be a variety of warm colors. Warm colors that are really warm and warm colors that are a little bit cooler. I'm trying to build in some of that nuance and draw most of the color cues from the reference but of course, make my own decisions as I go along. If you are curious to learn more about color, how I make color decisions and how to see colors accurately in your reference image, I do have a whole class about that and a link to that in the class description in the class notes. Up here on her forehead, I am starting to actually blend some of the really dark black. The dark shadow from the background, I'm starting to pull that down over her forehead and blend it in with some of the darkest edges of the dark shadow on her forehead. I'm doing the same thing on the side of the face now. This area is also going to connect to a really dark shadow to a black shadow. I need to create a really soft gradient that looks natural and that allows me to connect some of these lighter areas to the dark black of the background. Now that I've gotten some of the values closer to where they need to be on the face, and some of the details where they need to be on the face, I can see that I need to get the neck quite a lot darker. Since if you look in the reference, the whole area of the neck, even the lighter area of the neck is darker than the light areas on the face. I'm just using a warm brown. I think this is a sienna brown all across the neck to bring that down to a deeper value that's closer to what we see in the reference image. 7. Further Developing the Figure: Okay. As I move on to doing more shading and more development in the body of the figure and other areas besides the face, I really wanted to try to get the neck right first, so I'm coming in here with some cadmium orange to warm it up, and this is actually a really nice color. It's not one that typically comes with one of the standard prismacolor sets, but it's a great color to have on hand if you like painting figures, if you'd like drawing people, because it is really warm, but it's also decently dark so you don't have to worry about pulling in any white that's going to make your shadow area look chalky. I'm just going over the whole neck area here because it is in shadow, but it's still really has a warm undertone. Then I'm starting to blend some of the darker areas of the neck and the chest, like this little shadow along the clavicle starting to blend those with a combination of just a dark brown, I think it's a dark umber and then a really warm or brown, a warm kind of CN brown. The whole time I'm working here I'am just working in really tiny little circular strokes. I was doing the same thing in the face, actually the face I was doing like microscopic little circular stroke. A super sharp pencil and really tiny little circular strokes here on the neck. I'm letting myself get a little bit bigger with strokes, but not much, I'm mostly keeping it fairly light in terms of the amount of pressure that I'm putting on my pencil. Then trying to stay in these really tiny little soft circular strokes that will eventually disappear. Especially as I add more and more layers and continue to blend. Whenever you're working with colored pencil or whenever I'm working with colored pencil, it's a lot of back and forth, lay down one color and then come back in with another color to blend some of the edges. Then I'll realize that I need to get darker with the initial color, so I'll go back and want that color that i was first using. I'm spending a lot of time doing that. In this whole time I'm just continually looking at the reference to make sure I have a good understanding of where those darks and lights are. As we get further along, I will take more liberties with the color, or I may take more liberties with the color, but usually I will tend to stick pretty close to the reference in terms of a map for where my lights and darks should be. Getting started on the shirt here, this area is a little tricky because it's a white shirt, but it really has a lot of color to it since It's lit from that same source that the face is lit from, it's a really a warm light and it ends up looking almost peachy pink. I'm going to use shadow colors, what we would think of this shadow colors, some more muted browns and graze but I'm actually going to use a lot of the same colors that are used on the face I'm using like a salmon pink and peach beige and darker peachy color from prismacolor called Rose Beige. Using those to create some of the shadows and create some of the dimension on the shirt. Then they're really dark areas, I'm using the same brown, that are same just prismacolor, dark brown to create the center of their shadows and then blending out the edges, either with a really soft application of dark brown really light, hardly putting any doubt at all or with a lighter brown colored pencil. If you're looking at the reference image, this is a big clue for me in terms of the temperature of the shirt. We can see that the little paper box that she's holding is actually quite cool and it looks almost bluish in comparison to the shirt. That's how I know that the shirt needs to be a lot more towards that pinky orange end of the spectrum and needs to be different both in value and in temperature. Then bend a little paper lantern. 8. Adding Detail to the Hands: Now, I am moving on to the hands. I'm using a color that I used quite a bit on the face, the pale vermilion, trying to block in where I see some of that really warm, almost reddish color coming through in the light areas of the hand. Those are pretty much all on the inside, like on the inside of the fingers and the palms, the areas that are in direct contact with the paper lantern. Then in areas that aren't quite as saturated, I'm using either nectar or salmon pink. Salmon pink is very similar to Prismacolor's peach, which is more of one of their standard colors that comes in a standard kit. But salmon pink has a bit more saturation, it's not quite as muted, so it's great for something like this where I want there to be a good amount of saturation coming through. Just as I did with the watercolor, I'm coming in here with a dark brown in the shadow areas. I'm trying not to take that directly to the edge and any other places that have a soft edge to them. I'm going down the center of the finger and leaving the areas around the edge untouched so that I can blend and maybe even add some lighter colored pencil if I need to. Over here, the edges of the fingers actually are a crisp shadow, so in those areas I am going directly to the edge. But if it's a soft shadow or diffuse shadow, I'm keeping clear of the edges and then blending them with that lighter, either the pale vermilion or a warm Sienna brown or a peachy color. It's only after I have layered down some of the dark brown that I actually will go in with black. That's only in some areas, like the edges of the hand where the shadow is connecting to that inky blackness of the background, or in the case of her left hand, the hand that we see on the right-hand side, some of the underside of the hand is quite dark, so I'm using black there. I am going to add a tiny bit of development to the paper lantern. I actually don't want to work on it too much because I want it to have that really fresh luminous quality and watercolor is great for that. But I'm just going to add a little bit of sharpness to those two triangles where the paper is folded over. The area that was a bit of a cooler, more purpley color, and I'm coming in with a cool gray and then a little bit of a lavender pinky gray. Then some of the other shadow areas, like the top of the right triangle where it bends over a little bit I'm using that same color. Then the other side, the side that we see that's on the left-hand side that she's holding with her right hand, I'm adding some cream, which is like a fairly saturated but really light yellow, and some of that peachy pink that I've been using throughout the entire piece. Then of course, a little bit of white to sharpen up some of those edges and to blend. 9. Deepening the Background: Finally, moving on to the background. I want to add a little bit more color, and a little bit more texture to some of these lights that are floating in the background. I'm working in with cream, and deco peach, and deco pink to try to just add a little bit more color and increase some of the interest here since these are still pretty light, and now especially, compared to the rest of the piece, it has gotten developed more. They're looking really, really pale and almost white. I'm just continuing to use those little circular strokes I've been using throughout the entire piece. Also continuing my back and forth method where I'll lay one color down, and work another color on top, and then go back in with the original one to blend the edges. Once I've gotten all of those little floating lights filled out the way I want them, I'm going to work my way across the entire background. Gulp, yes, the entire background with a black-colored pencil. I wasn't sure if I was going to do this initially. I hadn't made up my mind about it in the beginning. But just looking at the rest of the piece in the texture, the rest of the piece compared to the background, I feel like in order for it to have that inky-velvety feel that I wanted to have, I'm going to have to add colored pencil. Or potentially add gouache, black gouache, but then the surface texture will be pretty different, and I do often work in gouache and colored pencil together. But a really, really large area, really large flat lay-down of gouache, would be pretty noticeably different than the colored pencil texture as opposed to what I typically do, which is just a little bit of a gouache here and there. I think, if I wanted to have that inky-velvety feel, colored pencil is going to be my best. But I'm using two different black colored pencils here. I'm using the prismacolor black colored pencil, which is great. It's a bit on the softer, cleaner side. Then I'm using the luminance black-colored pencil by Caran D'ache. You do not have to have two different black-colored pencils. By any means, you could do the whole thing with the prismacolor. But the guranda ash is just a little bit easier to sharpen. If you use prismacolors, and love them as much as I do, you probably are familiar with their Achilles heel, which is that, they tend to break very easily. Luminance pencils are a tiny bit harder. They're still a soft pencil, but they're not as soft and breakable as prismacolors though. It's just much easier to get a nice, sharp point on them. I'm using those because I know that I'm going to need to sharpen it a number of times in order to get to some really crisp edges. Using the luminance as opposed to the prismacolor, is just going to make it easier for me to do that. I'm just working my way around the entire subject. Where there is a really crisp edge, I'm tending to use the luminance to give me that hard, clean edge. Then where it's a softer edge, more of a fade, I'm going sometimes back and forth with the black, and maybe the dark brown that was used at the edge of the shadow to create really smooth, clean gradients. I'm also working my way around all of the floating lights. Pretty much anywhere, where there is black in the background, I'm trying to get it covered with colored pencil. At this point, you can probably tell that I'm not being nearly as careful with my marks. I'm actually being pretty rough and sloppy with my marks. That's because I'm just trying to get this laid down as quickly as possible. It's a lot of surface area to cover, and when working with colored pencil, that can take quite a while. This is only an 8 by 10, so you can imagine what it would be like doing this on a really large piece. But, since I'm deciding to cover this whole background with colored pencil, which I didn't know whether I would do that in the beginning as they've decided to do that, I'm also deciding that I'm going to end up blending and using some mineral spirits and gem salt to blend out some of the texture that I'm creating in the background here. The reason I want to do that is because the texture, while it's not super visible, is quite different from the really refined soft texture that I have on the rest of the piece. I could work my way across the whole piece using that same really refined soft texture but, that would take a really long time. This piece is already taking quite a bit longer than I expected. I have made the decision at this point to blend, and that gives me the freedom to be a little bit messier with my marks because I know I can just blend everything out in the end anyway. At this point, I'm done with the colored pencil rendering. Again, pretty much done with the painting as a whole. The only thing I have left to do is blend. 10. Blending: I'm in the home stretched here. I'm all done with the watercolor, all done with the colored pencil, everything is dry. Before I finish up, I am actually just going to do a little bit of blending with mineral spirits, with some odorless mineral spirits. My odorless mineral spirit of choice is gamsol, which is the safest of the bunch. But if you are going to use any LMS, any solvent, you always should work in a well ventilated studio. So I've got my window open or it doesn't have to be a studio, but a well ventilated space. I have my window open and I'm using a collection of different little brushes to blend. My favorite shape for blending brushes is a Filbert which is a flat brush, but it's got a little curve to the end, a little half-moon shape at the end, which just makes it really nice for blending around in circular strokes. But then you can also still use it to get a pretty clean sharp edge if you need to. So I'm starting with the medium-sized Filbert brush and I'm doing a little bit of blending inside of this shadow areas that are going to fade into the darker areas. Initially I thought I might just blend only the black background, but I think I want to actually blend the background into the subject so that it has more of a cohesive fields. I am starting with the LMS on those medium tones, some of those shadow areas of the subject, and then working my way out. You want to be careful when you're blending colored pencil with odorless mineral spirit to clean your brush frequently. When you're working from dark to light, if you're blending in a dark area and moving that into a lighter area, you're going to carry a lot of the dark pigment with you, and the inverse is also true if you're blending in a lighter area and pulling it into a darker area. That might not seem problematic. But sometimes if you end up pulling too much light pigment into your darker areas, it'll look really white and chalky, and that can actually be hard to cover. I'm doing my best to just blend a little bit in an area and then clean my brush and work into those middle areas, the areas that are right between the light and the dark. Work into those areas with a brush that's nice and clean, that doesn't have a ton of pigment on it. Also blending some of the shadow areas in the neck and face so that the texture isn't quite as loud there. All right. Now, I'm getting started into blending some of the black areas. This is the background, but also there's quite a bit of black on like the backs of the hands and some parts of the face that are really dark. I'm trying to blend those areas and get them nice and smooth and velvety. 11. Change of Plans...: Surprise. Welcome back to one final lesson. This is the hallmark of my paint with me series. I genuinely just take you guys along with me as I create a piece. Which means that I don't necessarily know exactly how it's going to turn out when I start so you are here for the journey and learning right along with me what needs to come next. After I finished with all of the blending, I let the piece sit and then I looked at it the next day in a natural light. I felt like there were some things that I wanted to tweak. Number one, there was just a small area around the eye that looked a little bit off to me. It just looked like maybe I hadn't brought some of the shadow down far enough under her cheek. I first off wanted to fix that. Then I saw some other little areas in the face that I felt could use some nuance so I'm going back in here with some more different colors in the shadows and with the Prismacolor cream colored pencil and adding some more highlights to the face. I'm having to be really careful with adding the highlights. It would be very easy to go overboard here and make the face too bright. Even though these are the lightest lights that are on the face, they are still darker than the paper lantern, so I have to keep that in mind. That's making me do quite a bit of back and forth. Every time I lay down a highlight, I have to tweak it a little bit with more of a midtone. Yeah, just basically adding some more nuance, some more development to the face, getting it a little bit more refined and bringing back some of the detail that was lost when I did a little bit of blending. The other thing that really stood out to me when I looked at it in natural light as something that I wanted to change, was that these little lanterns, these little floating lights in the background, were just really looking rough compared to the rest of the piece. Even before I added this additional layer of refinement to the face there was a lot of detail and a lot of refined handling in the face. Then these little floating orbs in the background just looked so rough and looked really disconnected from the background texture so I wanted to change that. I also wanted to change the fact that they all felt really still too light in value. Even though I had already added another layer of value with colored pencil initially, I feel like they need to get a little bit darker in order to give a sense of depth because right now they feel like they're all really loud, really bright in the foreground, calling a lot of attention to themselves. Adding some other color and some more value is going to make them a lot more interesting. Then softening the edges and making them feel connected to the background is also going to make them call less attention to themselves since they're going to feel more cohesive within the rest of the environment. On the note of the background, even though I covered the entire thing with colored pencil already, I still feel like it doesn't look even enough. Even with the blending, there's quite a bit of variability in the texture. As I mentioned, I want it to feel really velvety and inky so I'm going over the entire top again with black. I'm using a different black colored pencil this time. This is a LYRA pencil and these are actually oil-based pencils as opposed to wax-based pencils. I like them but I don't like them quite as much as Prismacolor. The reason I'm using it right now is because I'm pretty much out of my Prismacolor colored pencil. It's gotten hard to hold and my current ash colored pencil is running low as well. I have used a lot of black colored pencil on this piece. Something that I have learned and that I would recommend for when you do the class project is if you are able to make a quick trip to the art supply store, Prismacolor has woodless colored pencils and so do lots of brands actually. For something like this where you're just covering a huge amount of surface area and you don't actually need a lot of precision, you could just use a woodless colored pencil to lay down a lot of the pigment and then use a regular colored pencil for the areas that are around your subject where you do need to be more detailed and refined. That is what I will do the next time I create this piece. Yes, once again, I'm just working my way across the entire surface of the subject, well, the entire surface of the background. This time I'm actually trying to use really nice little tiny strokes because I don't want to blend it again. I'm trying to keep my strokes much nicer, much tidier so that they're not going to look really messy compared to the rest of the subject which is more carefully rendered. At this point too you'll notice that I'm using a little piece of paper to keep my hand on. I probably should have even been doing this earlier, but this is one of those good habits that I really have to remind myself to do. When you're working with colored pencils since its oil and wax based, your hand can pick up some of that pigment and can move it around and smudge it. It becomes more and more likely that that will happen the more pigment you have laid down on the paper. Since this is my second round of all black colored pencil, there's a lot of pigment on the paper which means it's very likely to pick up and smudge. I'm trying to be really good about using paper to rest my hands on. Okay. I think that is finally it. I think I'm really done. Now I really I'm going to show you a scan of the finished piece and we'll talk about the class project and wrap up in the next section. 12. Class Project and Wrap Up: Congratulations. You have made it through the course. We finished the painting. I hope you enjoyed seeing this process, seeing all of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and how I dealt with the bumps in the road. Now, it is time for you to get started on your own journey, on your own class project and create a moody, dramatic portrait. The first step is to choose one of the provided reference images. Those are in the class resources section. If for some reason you have trouble accessing that section or finding that section, you can always just go back to the lesson 2 and screen capture any of the images that you wanted to use as a reference. Or another option, of course, is to take your own reference image or to find one somewhere online, that's acceptable to use. Step 2 is to create a basic sketch, giving yourself a road map of that overall anatomy, the big shadows, the big light areas, the big dark areas. If you want to refer back to how much detail I put into my sketch, again, I would recommend going back to lesson 1 and taking a look at that. You will probably need less detail in a sketch for this type of subject. Whereas this lighting than you would if you were going to do a sketch for a subject with really subtle lighting. I said some of the details are going to be obscured in the shadows. For example, just in the subject that I did, really didn't need to include much information at all about her ear other than where her ear was. Take a look at that and create your own sketch. Next, follow along with what we did in the class, the basic steps of creating that color wash the initial layers with watercolor. Then you're going to block in those dark areas with a really dark whiter color or an ink. If you want to use an ink instead, remembering to leave a buffer where you are going to create the gradients later with lighter layers of watercolor and colored pencil. Then you want go ahead and add your basic detail with watercolor. Some of this is really up to you, how detailed you want to get. I didn't include a ton of detail because I wanted to get right along to colored pencil. But if you are more comfortable working in watercolor and you want to develop more detail with the watercolor alone, You can absolutely do that. Finally add more nuance detail both to the structure and the form and the color with colored pencil. Of course, as you saw in the class, I did have an overall plan, an overall direction in mind as I was getting started. But I changed my mind multiple times along the way. I want to give you permission to give yourself permission to do the same thing. We have the overall road map that I just mentioned. You may have a road map in mind when you get started on your piece, but try and give yourself the opportunity to change your mind or to be really creative and responsive in addressing problems, addressing artistic hiccups when they come up along the way, as they inevitably well. Of course along with that, if you want to incorporate a different media or try a different approach, you do not at all have to stick with watercolor. You might want to bring in some blush, you might want to bring in some ink, may be soft pastel or some wax pastels, some acrylic paint. All different things that you could do. If you want ideas about mixed media and other types of mixed media that you could bring in, you can take my mixed media class. But just know that there is a whole world out there and you should have the freedom to use whichever of these media you want, that you feel like are going to help you address the artistic problem you have in front of you. I also want to mention that the piece that you saw me create, you saw about an hours worth of footage, but this piece took actually about five hours total. That five hours does not include drying time. What you don't see in the footage is all of the time that I spend sitting and thinking, trying to select the color, trying to mix the right color, trying to decide how I want to approach a particular area. There's a lots and lots of pauses that had been cut out. Some of the other stuff that I cut out, are just the lengthier periods of time where all I'm doing is filling in the background the same thing, the same motion happening over and over again. I mentioned that, just so that if you are finding that it takes you longer than an hour, don't feel bad about that and that's totally normal. It took me longer than an hour. I will also say that I could have probably done this quicker if I had made some different choices about materials. For example, if I had used a woodless colored pencil, or may if I had may be used a more opaque black media from the beginning rather than the watercolor. Either one of those could have saved me some time since I spent a lot of time on that black background. As you dive into your project, please be sure to document as much as possible. Take photos, write down some notes about things that you're noticing, what you do when you encounter a particular problem, how you approach that. Please be sure to share it in the class projects. I absolutely love seeing what you guys make and sharing your project is a really great way to help your fellow class takers learn. If you are comfortable doing that, I really encourage you to do so. I always like to mention in my classes that, if you are looking specifically for constructive feedback, please indicate that when you post your class projects, so that I know how to give you the most helpful feedback, the feedback that you're looking for. If you are looking at your classmates projects and you decide to leave a comment, thank you. That is great. I love seeing that and always please remember to be really kind and supportive of one another. As always, feel free to leave any general questions in the class discussion section, and I will do my best to get to those. Thank you again so much for taking this class. I really cannot wait to see what you make.