Watercolor Portraits - Dynamic Atmosphere and Whimsical Skin Tones | Arleesha Yetzer | Skillshare

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Watercolor Portraits - Dynamic Atmosphere and Whimsical Skin Tones

teacher avatar Arleesha Yetzer, Watercolor Illustrator & YouTube Artist

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.



    • 3.

      Mixing Skin Tones


    • 4.

      Creating Color Palettes


    • 5.

      Value Thumbnail Sketches


    • 6.

      EXAMPLE 1: Sketching and Creating Mood


    • 7.

      EXAMPLE 1: Building Contrast


    • 8.

      EXAMPLE 1: Finishing Touches


    • 9.

      EXAMPLE 2: Sketching and Atmosphere


    • 10.

      EXAMPLE 2: Building Contrast and Structure


    • 11.

      EXAMPLE 2: Final Details


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About This Class

The watercolor portrait can be a beautiful, expressive thing. In this class, I'm going to show you a few different techniques for mixing skin tones, how to create cohesive color palettes, and take you through all the steps I enjoy when preparing and creating loose, colorful watercolor portraits. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Arleesha Yetzer

Watercolor Illustrator & YouTube Artist


Arleesha is a watercolor artist and YouTube creator based in the northeastern United States. Her work primarily features dynamic and whimsical representations of the human figure. Primary professional endeavors include her budding YouTube channel with a current subscriber community of over 100 thousand as well as this growing library of Skillshare classes!

Here, you'll find classes on anatomy, figure drawing, and watercolor techniques - all directed to help you improve your portrayals of the human figure. 

If you'd like to connect with me and see more of my work, you can follow me on Instagram or check out my YouTube channel, where I post videos every week. 

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Alisha Yates and I'm a watercolor illustrator and YouTube artist. Watercolor portraits are my passion, so I'm very excited to share this class with you. Watercolor portraits, dynamic atmosphere, and whimsical skin tones. We're going to talk briefly about materials you'll need before we jump right into mixing skin tones and creating vibrant, unique color palettes. We'll spend some time talking about building up effective values with thumbnail sketches before we dive into our class project, where I'll break down my portrait painting process into steps and talk you through each one. So if you're ready to experiment with loose, beautiful watercolor portraits, let's get started. 2. Materials: Let's start by talking about materials, what I recommend, and a few things that I really like. Starting with two containers of water. The reason I recommend two instead of just one, is that one is going to act as our dirty water for initial rinses, and the other is going to stay cleaner to allow us to mix new colors without contaminating them; and it gives you a bit more time before you have to get yourself fresh water. Of course, we're going to want to have a sketchbook and some pencils to get ideas down. I have this set of sketching pencils by Staedtler or Staedtler with various harnesses. Those are going to allow you to get a wider variety of dark to light tones. But if all you have is a standard number 2 HB pencil, that's going to get the job done, if it's all you have handy. I've also got some inexpensive watercolor paper here, as well as my favorite brush. Now, it's no secret that brushes come in a ton of different sizes, shapes, and styles. While collecting different types can be fun, all you really need is a good medium sized round brush. Really, you'll be surprised what a good quality round brush can do for you. I've got this tiny little tin here of just primary colors by various brands. It's also really handy for storing a tiny little travel brush and I can take it with me wherever I go. We're going to talk about mixing from the primaries, first. I'll also be using my larger studio set of Sennelier watercolors and a couple of paper towels and we're pretty much ready to get started. If you'd like to see more about any of these materials, I'll have links to as much as possible in the about section for this class. All right, let's get started. 3. Mixing Skin Tones: We're going to talk about mixing skin tones. We'll start with red, yellow, and blue. After that, I'm going to share with you a few of my favorite premixed or premade colors for skin. Most skin tones tend to branch out from an orangey sort of area, so let's start there. Your skin will probably vary toward a pink or brown. How do we get there? Let's start with this orangey base. Depending on how you are planning to stylize your portrait, that could work but if we wanted something more desaturated, how do we get there? If you look at a color wheel, you notice that directly opposite from orange is blue, so by adding the complement or opposite color to any one color you desaturate that color. Now that we've toned this down a little bit, that's looking a lot more like skin. Time to experiment. Maybe you want a base color that's a bit warmer, a bit more brown. That looks nice. By adding a touch of red to this specific color, we would have a blush that we could use within this particular palette for those areas of higher blood flow like the cheeks or the nose or the ears and things like that. Be careful adding red as it can easily overpower your other colors. Adding a tiny bit of blue to this mix will give us a beautiful purple color that we can use for shadows and darker areas within this same palette. Keep playing around, fill a page with different combinations of these colors and see what you can do. Get darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. The possibilities are nearly endless. Start with the base tone that you like and add a little bit of red and a little bit of blue to that color to get variations within that palette. This experiment, it's going to greatly deepen your understanding of color mixing. After this, we can have a look at some premixed tones. But as you can see, just the primaries themselves can give us a very wide range of different skin tones and it doesn't necessarily have to be within one specific type of ethnicity or anything like that. With just red, yellow, and blue, debatably our primary colors, we can do pretty much anything. As far as premix tones go, I do have some favorites. Starting with this one, this is naples yellow deep. It's a nice warm color. That's a really nice yellowish base for skin. I also really enjoy raw sienna. It's a really nice transparent brown that works really well for mixing with other colors. This is transparent brown: a nice darker brown value for getting darker skin tones. This beautiful purple is called caput mortum. Even though it sounds like something that died, it's a beautiful purple for shadows. As a red, I really like alizarin crimson. It's a nice light, fast, transparent color that has a bit of desaturation to it already and works really well adding to other palettes. You can see here that by adding a second layer of the same color in this particular brand, we can really increase the vibrancy, but any good transparent watercolor is going to behave the same way. These are some tones that I mixed from my premix tones like naples yellow, raw sienna, caput mortum. All of these different colors were mixed from colors just like these. Up next we're going to talk about taking these colors and creating harmonious color palettes based on atmosphere and subject matter. 4. Creating Color Palettes: Now that we know how to make skin tones, let's take that knowledge and apply it to creating unique color palettes for our portraits. I personally like to work with these circle shapes here when testing colors. You're welcome to draw your own circles onto some watercolor paper and follow along. These many pallets are going to be broken down into three different colors. A base tone, a blush, and a shadow tone. In this specific one, I'm starting with the blush tone. The general concept here is to have your three colors laid out next to each other to see how the colors actually look together. Remember to apply all of the things we learned in the last segment. Base your colors on each other. To create my base tone, I mixed in some of my blush tone, and to create my shadow tone, I did the same. This helps to keep our colors more cohesive when they have bits of each other in them. I also like to have little swatches next to my circle. If the colors mix it all inside the circle, I have the individual ones together, separately, so I know what I put in there. This second one is a cooler based palette. I really liked this purple tone and decided instead of using it as a shadow, I was going to use it as my blush tone. Here is another technique, if you wet the entire circle, your colors will blend together a little bit better, and you'll have a little bit more of an idea of what the colors will look like when they touch each other, when they blend together and when they start to mix on the paper. I would highly recommend experimenting with lots of different color combinations. Sometimes like this one, your colors might be based on temperature. Maybe I want something really cool with lots of blues and purples. Don't worry too much about realism here. This is all about experimenting. Or if I want something much warmer, I might choose a base color like Quinacridone, Gold or raw sienna. Don't feel like you have to follow a specific layout when putting your colors together. The important thing is to have a small space where colors can interact with one another, and you can get a look ahead of time as to what those are going to look like. Also don't feel like you're shadows always have to be the same temperature. In previous ones my shadows have been cooler purple tones. Here I warmed up that shadow with some burnt umber and I really like the way that it looks when it interacts with that reddish color. Fill up as many of these circles as you'd like. Now's the time to see how your colors really look altogether. You can choose colors based on mood, temperature, or just start with a color that you really like and build from there. Your base color will often be a bit warmer or more lively, something that represents the natural color of the skin. While your shadows can be warmer like a red or pink, or cooler like a blue or purple. There are no rules when it comes to these experiments. Just put colors together and see how you like the way they interact with one another. I am only doing six different examples here, but the more you do, the better. If you do your circles a little bit smaller, you can fit more than six on a single page. Enjoy the process. Learn more about your watercolor paints and learn more about how the colors interact with one another. Feel free to take your time with this step as this is really a good brainstorming process for making a color palette that is cohesive, harmonious, and really nice silica. 5. Value Thumbnail Sketches: We're just about ready to jump into our portraits. But before we do, let's set our paints aside and work on some value thumbnail sketches. This is where those sketching pencils will definitely come in handy. I'm going to be referencing my Pinterest boards for these little studies. You can find a link to those in the About section. For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to be focusing on black and white images. This will make breaking down the light and dark areas of our subject much easier. Using references like this is great for studies. But remember that these photos belong to the people who took them. So it's just for practice. As you can see, another key part of this exercise is keeping your sketches small. This sketch book is about 7 by 10 inches. So this one is really only a couple inches tall. That's why they're called thumbnails. We're going to be doing a couple of these and they're all going to be pretty small. What I really want to focus on here are the larger blocks of light and dark areas. I'm not really thinking about drawing a girl in front of a wall. I'm focusing on geometric shapes of shadow and light, sculpting out my shadow's mid tones and highlights. You can see that the first layer of shadow blends together with the hair, the shirt, and the side of the face that's in shadow. This helps us to remember our light source and our values. So try not to think about drawing an eye and hair and etc. Think of it more as carving out light and shadow in big chunks and then carving deeper for the areas that are even darker. Don't worry too much about proportions and making everything look perfect. This is really just about understanding how the balance of values can help to affect the tone of the overall piece. In the second one, I wanted to pretty early on cover the entire area in a light midtone and later erase out some lighter spots with my kneaded eraser. The focus here obviously isn't trying to get super accurate proportions. We just want to better understand how the value and composition work together to create mood and atmosphere. As you can see on the second one, there is a large portion of the top of the head and the face that's pretty much all in shadow, as well as the bottom section of the clothing. By switching between different hardness of sketching pencils, I'm able to get a wider variety of tones for these little thumbnails. The third one I'm referencing here is actually a little bit more of a close-up and there's a lot of shadow in this one. What you are going to be able to see right away is how the amount of darkness gives a very dramatic effect. Darkness covers the entire background as well as about half of the face. The shadowed side of the face really just blends right into the background. What you're going to see overall is, doing these little exercises is going to help you to better establish mood and atmosphere and really get a better handle on values before we jump into things like this with color. So do as many of these little sketches as you'd like. As with all of the other exercises we've been practicing during this class, it's definitely a great idea to start piecing things together and make a class project. I'm sure that myself, as well as other students in the class would love to see how you're putting all of these things together. So don't be afraid to share your progress and let us see what you were working on, as well as sharing any questions you might have. 6. EXAMPLE 1: Sketching and Creating Mood: Now we're ready to get started on our class project and talk about sketching and creating mood for our watercolor portrait. The first thing I'm going to do here is set myself up to start painting. I've got my watercolor paper here and my masking tape, and I'm going to go ahead and tape that down to a clipboard. Clipboards are pretty handy because you can use them over and over again and move them around as you paint. What I'm showing you here are a couple of pages from my sketchbook that I just doodle around in preparation for this painting. I did a lot of different little thumbnail sketches, things for value and different elements that I thought I wanted to include in the piece, as well as testing out a couple different colors. For our sketching here you can see that I'm using another one of my black and white Pinterest references. Again, my focus as I'm sketching here isn't necessarily just drawing what I see, a girl standing, tilted to one side with a shadow across her face. Of course, yes, that's my goal. Those are the things that I'm keeping in mind. But as I'm sketching, I'm thinking about the shapes. I'm thinking about the shape of her eye, the shape of the shadows, the shape of the light, and making sure that those things are represented accurately as well, as well as trying to keep the proportions of the face as accurate as possible. I'm not necessarily trying to create a final finished piece in my sketch. That would be redundant because I want to refine a lot of my values and the shapes and compositional mood and things like that while I'm painting. Drawing and painting can be very different things. If you're creating and drawing, you're probably going to focus more time on rendering with your pencil, getting everything right, right away, and when I'm painting, the pencil's purpose is to create a framework for me. Its purpose is to lay down guidelines because the work is going to happen when we start painting. To get started on our painting, I'm going to go ahead and start with our background. This is going to actually help to establish the mood a little bit more as well as give me a better judge for our values moving forward. By having something other than just the white of the page when I start working, especially on the skin, it's going to be really helpful so that my skin tones don't end up too light because the only thing I have to compare them to, is the white of the page. I'm using a larger calligraphy brush here because it holds more water and it's actually really helpful to help me cover larger areas. What I'm going to be doing is I'm laying in this background green color, and then fuzzing those edges with water to create a soft light effect. I'm using a couple of different shades of green as well. What this is going to allow me to do is to create darker pools of color in the darker areas of the shadows so that they're not all the same value. It adds a bit more contrast and just a bit more interest to the piece overall. With watercolors generally, especially in these early layers, you can go in a little bit heavier, especially when you're working with a wet paint because the color will disperse and will also dry, just a little bit lighter. As we move into our skin, I've wet most of the area with water before I begin to apply my paint. Also, again, same thing, some of these colors when they first get laid down, might look way too bright and way too out of place, but once we scoot them around into their places and allow the paint to dry, you're going to notice that they really spread out really well, and all of a sudden they look super light and you can tell that we're going to need more layers to build up our contrast. This color that I'm using is a nice, warm orange. I believe the specific color is called Chinese orange, and it's really nice for laying in some nice warm blush colors. I went in with a slightly cooler, almost purple tone to start working on my shadows. The same thing as we would do with our sketching pencil. You might use a lighter pencil and shade an entire area that was in shadow, I'm using this lighter value and laying it over the entire areas that I want to be more in shadow. We'll go in and define more specific tones and slight value shifts a little bit later on, but for now, I really want to focus on just establishing the mood of our piece. With this large cast shadow and this area of shadow beneath her hair, I really wanted to establish those things first and move forward with them in the future. I have a little bit of variance in my warm and cool colors at this point, but not really a ton. 7. EXAMPLE 1: Building Contrast: All right, we've got our initial layers in. Let's go ahead and work on building contrast. This is the part of the painting where you really want to start thinking like a sculptor. What I mean by that is you want to start carving out the planes of the face. So now I want to start thinking in more detail about places that are going to be in deeper shadows, like the nostrils, under the eyes, the very top of the neck where the chin casts even more shadow, and I want to start to really start to think about the differences in my overall shadow and light areas because they're not all going to be exactly the same. One thing that I do want to try to keep in mind while I'm working on this shadow area, and you'll see me struggle through it a bit, is that areas that are in shadow tend to be just less in focus in general. While I am laying in lots of shadow values, I don't want there to be a ton of hard lines within my overall shadow. For example, right now, and you'll see me work on this a couple times throughout the piece, there is a hard shadow where her face ends and her hair begins. I don't really want that hard shadow to be there, ultimately. The plane that's in shadow, it all blurs together. It's that whole idea of when it's dark, you can't see as well. I don't want those areas to be as defined even though they're all there. Of course, her face does, and her hair does begin, and that is a very definite difference. But I want to keep it soft, keep it subtle because we're painting. We're not just creating something that's realistic, we're trying to give the atmosphere of light and shadow. I also want to keep in mind my goals for the overall mood of this piece. I've put in a lot of warm colors up to this point and I'd really like to keep it this way. I'd like to keep this as something warm and summery, maybe it's because it's the middle of winter now. There's tons of snow outside and I'm just dreaming of warmer days. But either way, I really want to keep my overall goals for this piece in mind as I work. One of the greatest ways to keep your shadow soft is to keep the whole area wet while you're working. This can be really helpful in helping your colors to blend together a bit while still keeping the different values separate from one another. You'll see me get my heat tool out every once in a while. This is something I really like to use to speed up my drying time, so I don't have to wait as long for the individual layers to dry. It's an embossing tool and of course, it'll be as well as all the other materials I use, listed in the about section for the class. As I build up layer after layer, I want to keep in mind which colors I'm layering on top of which. If I switch up too much and the colors get too separate from each other on the color wheel, so the closer I get to complementary colors. Remember that mixing a color with its complement will desaturate the color, ultimately making brown. If I lay two colors that are too different on top of each other, it's going to really muddy up my values and it's not going to look as nice overall. I'll lose that warmth and I'll end up with something that just looks muddy and dirty and way too overworked. At this stage in the painting, this is always the concerned stage for me where you're starting to add contrast, but it's not quite coming together. But don't worry, most paintings have stages like this. Just keep working, keep building, keep sculpting, and you'll get there. Once I got to the point where I was starting to add a little bit more of my red values to reinforce the blushy areas and I was really getting in my darkest darks for the shadows, I started to feel much better about the painting overall. In this stage, remember, the focus is building contrast. Sculpt out your features, think about the way that the different parts of the face are facing. For example, even though the one side of her face isn't shadow, we can see that there's a bit of light catching on her eye because that roundness of the eye is actually facing towards the light and is raised a little bit. I did try to keep in a little bit more of a highlight. When I work with watercolors, I like to work softly in the beginning. So having lots of wetness and having the colors blend together. The more I layer up, the more I like to leave those hard edges a bit more, to define the planes a bit more, and it does give it a more abstract look. It's totally up to you. You'll get something more realistic if you blend out your edges more and keep everything really soft because there's obviously not really hard lines between the different colorations in a realistic portrait. But I really like including harder lines because it allows me to appreciate the watercolor texture a bit more and it creates some really interesting effects that are nice to look at. But we still get those differences in planes and the differences in color, and you can still see all of those things really clearly. After we've gone in and built up our contrast, we're going to work on some finishing touches and do the last few things we need to work on to bring the piece all together. 8. EXAMPLE 1: Finishing Touches: You've made it to the last leg, the final push. It's time for our finishing touches. These are the last few things that we're going to be doing to bring our piece together and make sure that everything is looking the way we want it to. For me, that meant starting with adding some of this foliage that I had in mind that you remember seeing from my sketchbook. Now, I didn't include these in my initial sketch for this painting because I wanted them to be spontaneous. I wanted them to be organic brush strokes that didn't really necessarily have to depict specific foliage, specific types of plants or flowers or anything like that. I wanted to be able to be loose with them without feeling too constrained. I had really tried to sculpt and build when it came to the plains of the face. I wanted this to be a little bit of a looser part of the painting overall. I'm really happy that I worked at that way. I wanted to incorporate more green around her face as well. We had it in the background, but I didn't really have any green in the foreground or around the character herself. By including this color in with the character, it helps to make the pallet more cohesive. By adding colors to different parts of the painting, you can really help to bring everything together and reinforce the fact that these different pieces belong together. All I had to do was to go in and add a bit more contrast and a bit more definition to these areas as well. We can use that same color mixing tool to our advantage by adding a bit of a yellow to her skin as well and her face. This is going to help the background and the subject all become more cohesive. Like they belong together, like the different colors in this painting were meant to actually happen together. Keeping her colors too separate sometimes can make it look like she doesn't belong in this environment. Or like the things don't really blend together. With that, we have a finished watercolor portrait. I hope you've enjoyed watching this class. The final step, of course always is to remove our tape and sign our painting. I hope you've enjoyed going through this process with me as well. It's been a lot of fun sharing this with you. I cannot wait to take a look at your projects as well, to see what paintings you'll make. Please share them with us. We would love to see what paintings you will put together. Because whatever you are going to do will be unique and it will be really interesting to see how everyone's projects vary from one another. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this class, and I'll see you in the next one. Happy painting. 9. EXAMPLE 2: Sketching and Atmosphere: With all of our fundamental tools in place, we're ready to get started on our class project. I've got my reference image of choice here. You are seeing it in color, but in a moment we'll go red and black and white just like we have been when creating our thumbnail sketches. I also did a small thumbnail sketch of my own. This one is a little more detail than I usually go with my thumbnail sketches. I know if just talks about that, but it was also a little bit of a warm-up exercise for me. I made some notes on the side about what I wanted to change from this thumbnail to the final piece. When I'm working on my sketches, you'll notice a couple of things. I've got a watercolor block here so it's gummed on the side, so I don't have to worry about my paper warping and bending. I'm holding it up at a little bit of an angle so that I'm not seeing it at a skewed angle like I would if it was flat on the table and I was sketching. You'll also notice that I started with the overall head shape first, before going into place any of my features. You want to think of it a bit like sculpting. If you had a giant piece of clay and you wanted to sculpt a head, you wouldn't start by diving into a specific spot and carving out an eye, then you would have to just work backwards to get the overall head shape, so that's where I start. I start with the larger shape of the hair and the head, and once I'm happy with that, I start to carve into that larger piece to create the features, starting with the features that tend to protrude and stick out the most, namely the ears, and the nose. Once they're placed, I have some good landmarks to get the other features in the places they belong. I do the mouth next and generally tend to leave the eyes for the last. In portraits, eyes generally tend to be the focal points. I want to make sure I have a nice strong foundation to place them on, making sure all my other features are placed correctly, and then I'm happy with the angle of the head, is really important. I don't want to draw a pair of eyes that I love on a poor foundation or a poorly drawn head. You'll notice with this particular sketch that I actually erased and redrew the eyes several times. I was having some issues getting them placed in the right place, with my small thumbnail sketch. I had actually put them too low and they were a little too large, so my character looked like a child. That's a lot of fun, but it wasn't what I was going for this particular piece. When working on this final sketch, the eyes were a little bit too small, and a little bit too high at first, so the character looked a little too old. I was trying to find a balance of somewhere right in the middle. I did reach a point where I had to stop trying so hard to get my portrait to look exactly like my reference. Once I realized that, that was what was stressing me out, it was a lot easier to backup, and allow it to be it's own unique portrait, and explore what was organically happening on the page. Once I'm happy with my sketch, I'll lighten it with a kneaded eraser. I don't want to rub with a regular eraser on my watercolor paper, as that would damage to the paper. I usually use a colored pencil instead of graphite for this, but I wanted it to be more visible for you guys, for the purpose of this class. With our sketch down here, I'm going to move into setting the overall tone for the piece. That's going to have a lot to do with the distribution of our values. I'm going to be exaggerating what I see in our reference photo here. Obviously we've got very dark hair, mid-tone shirt, and then a lot of varying values within the face which, that combination of different levels of contrast is what makes the face the focal point, and it's framed by these darker values of the hair, and the sweater. What I'm going to be doing is, I'm going to have the largest range of values, in here, and I'm also going to do that by toning down the background, so I might put a light wash of color, so that there's no pure white in the background, which is going to allow the structure of our face, to stand out the most. I just wanted to take a second to talk about that before I started painting, so you'd have an idea of where I'm coming from and what I'm doing. We want everything else to just fade away, and to structure, and build around, and draw attention to this central area, especially the eyes. In the eyes you can see we've got our deepest darkest values, lots of darkness in the eyes, but we've also got very light values in the whites of the eyes. I really want to emphasize the eyes as the focal point of the portrait. Let's jump into using our watercolors and we'll go ahead and work on establishing the overall mood and atmosphere of our painting. Something important that I want you to note is that, if you look over at my mixing tray there, you can see that all of the colors I will be mixing, for this portion of the painting are all going to come from the exact same place. I'm going to be making for the most part just subtle variations in color, to create something that is loose, light. All the colors are pretty wet and will flow into each other a lot, but all of these colors are pretty much going to have little bits of each other in them. Let's use a circle as an example. Just picture a circle shape in your head. Go ahead. Imagine that the entire circle shape is the whole painting. As you can see here we've already covered most of the white of our painting in just a couple of short minutes. This is sped up about five times normal speed and the entire painting took me about an hour. But covering most of my painting in the first initial wash only took a minute or two. You want to start with the entire circle, fill as much of it as you can. As you work in smaller and smaller and smaller towards that both sides towards the center of your circle, if we think of it more of being like a target, the closer we get to the center, the more we're going to slow down, focus on details, and take our time. Some of these areas, like the background in particular, may stay pretty much exactly how they're looking now. The first initial washes is to just get a bit of mood in with color, so laying in some basic bits of color, and by starting loose and then slowly tightening up the details in specific focal areas, we're going to have a much more dramatic and atmospheric painting by the end. 10. EXAMPLE 2: Building Contrast and Structure: Now that we've got our solid foundational sketch in place, as well as the looser atmospheric first washes, we're now going to begin to focus in on that metaphorical circle target to start to focus on a little bit more of the structure. At this point, we're not going in with specific final details yet, but we are going to be carving out more of the face. As stated previously, building contrast and establishing strong values is going to be the number one most important key to having a portrait that works. I've got green on the bottom of the chin, purple in the lips, blue and black and brown and red, tons of different colors all over the place. But it doesn't really matter, or rather I should say that I can have a lot more fun with the colors when I know that my values are solid, when they all work together. Another thing that's really going to help our colors to work together is by keeping a relatively limited color palette. Like when we worked on our circular color palettes sears before. For this piece, I mostly started out with a limited palette of cerulean blue, cadmium red light, and yellow ocher. Those colors create a really interesting variety of combinations that I was able to use for my lighter washes. Because cerulean blue isn't a very dark color in mass tone, I also wanted to add a blue that I could use to mix darker colors. So I've added this indigo or Payne's gray color as well. When it gets to the section of the hair, I'll include a brown as well. I believe I used something warmer but still relatively deep in tone like an Indian red. You'll notice as we move more into details that I'm gripping my brush a little bit closer to the ferrule near the tip of the brush, as opposed to the looser sweeping strokes where I would hold the end of my brush for the beginning of the piece. I've got a little bit more of a tighter grip now and that's because we're working on more details. You'll be able to see very clearly that I'm spending more time in each area because instead of sculpting the larger chunks, I'm performing those same sculpting exercises on smaller areas. Instead of sculpting the entire head, now I am just considering just one eye by itself and working out those deeper parts, the mid-tone values and leaving some lighter areas for highlights. I'll do that for each eye and then move into other areas like the nose, the mouth, and treating each section of the face like its own little sculpture. There are some edges that I will leave a little bit harder. The shape of the iris and those deep creases in the eyes, I like to have sharper edges there. By contrast, where the brow bone curves down on the outer edges of the face, those transitions can be a bit softer, as it's more of a curvature of the skull than an actual deep shadow. Having a combination of hard edges and soft edges is going to create a lot more interest in your piece, and you'll be establishing a lot more areas for the viewers eye to settle and giving them more things to look at. If your piece is composed of almost entirely soft edges, meaning that you're blending everything out and everything is super, super soft, it can almost look like the whole thing was just airbrushed. If you have only hard edges, then the piece can almost feel too abrasive. If you never soften anything out or allow your paint to be very wet and to just blend into other areas, it can be too harsh and a little bit too difficult to discern what's actually happening in the piece. A combination of soft curves where the facial structure is just transitioning in and out of the light and harder edges, cast shadows or defined shapes like the eyebrows and the eyes, that combination is going to be really helpful. We've talked about this general idea of sculpting as it applies to making art, but I wanted to get a little more specific also and talk about our watercolors. Because yes, I am building and sculpting and painting but I'm also working with a transparent wet media. I love layering and watercolors. It's such a fascinating process to create these soft blooms of color and then lay them over top of harder edges or vice versa. Remember your medium, working in slow expressive layers can be so fulfilling when it comes to watercolors. You can add so much character to one color when the color that someone sees in a particular area is actually a combination of multiple layers. The hair is going to be in contrast to that idea. We want to have a lot of variety, a lot of value, and a lot of interest in the face as this is going to be the focal point of the piece. Which means that we want everywhere else to be able to sit by the wayside and not matter as much. When we get to our hair, you'll notice that I'm just going to be using very loose strokes. I'm going to be backing my hand up on that brush, holding out a little bit closer to the end because I don't want to clench up on my brush and focus too much on details. I'm focusing more in the hair, I'm just creating interesting shapes and keeping it relatively loose. In our next section, when we go into final details, I will do a little bit of shading in the hair just to give it a bit more depth so it's not so much of a flat shape, but it's not going to be nearly as detailed and I'm not going to spend nearly as much time there as I will in the actual face. The same thing goes for the shirt area of this character. I mostly just putting in one big solid wash of red, which I want to act as an accent color. But again, it's not going to be nearly as detailed. I want to think about how my colors are working together overall to create a specific atmosphere. By choosing red as an accent color, it adds this sense of tension and urgency to the piece overall. Red can be a color that causes the viewer to think about anger or pain or some sort of discomfort. For me, this piece and the combination of colors makes me think of the calm before the storm. A moment of very intense calm, almost stagnancy before things explode into rage or anger or even sadness. It's a little bit of a somber piece, but thinking about those sort of atmospheric decisions while you're painting, is really going to help you to hone in on what you want the piece to be, instead of just throwing everything at it and having something that doesn't really work. As another small side note on the topic of paper, I am using a cold press watercolor paper here. You may notice, especially at this point in the hair, that the hair is looking a lot lighter than it was when we originally painted it. That has been happening throughout the process of this painting with all of our layers. When you're using cold press paper, the paint tends to settle into those grooves and ridges and depressions of the paper a little bit more, and the color can dry a bit less vivid while it is more forgiving when you're talking about hard edges versus soft edges. Cold press paper can be really nice for having edges that flow into one another. It does lighten our color as it dries a little bit more than some hot press paper as well. But that's why we layer, that's why we build up our values over time. 11. EXAMPLE 2: Final Details: Now it's time for final details and finishing touches. At this point, it's really important that you, as the artist, decide when you're done. These final details can feel a bit finicky and it's very easy to overwork your painting and get too carried away at this stage. While you can't always have a clear idea of exactly what you want out of a finished painting, it's important to keep a couple goals in mind so that at this stage, you're painting doesn't get ruined or like I said, completely overworked. For example, in this piece, my final goals were to make sure that my focal point was clear and crisp and intense, and that everything else was sort of complementing that focal point. So, like I said, I went in and added a tiny bit more contrast to the hair, not too much, just a little bit more and I also went in and added a few more layers to the area around the eyes as I want that to be the area that draws the most attention. So it's going to have the most contrast, the widest range of value and the most detail and everything else is just going to contrast and anchor that central area. As our colors dry on a cold press paper, as previously mentioned, those colors may soften and lighten and become a little bit more dull. So I may add another layer or two to bring back small amounts of saturation. When I'm relatively happy with the range of values I like to go in sometimes with white gouache to clean up any areas. So specifically for this one, I went in around the eye on the one side where the iris had gotten a little bit too large and made that a little bit smaller with my white gouache and I also added my white highlights to the pupils. It's a little bit of a balancing act at this point and as you add really dark values, you may find that you need a few more mid tones and the areas around, just to make sure that everything is balanced. It's okay to get a little finicky, but take regular pauses to ask yourself if the changes that you're making are completely necessary or if you are just fiddling. Keep clear goals in mind and know when your piece is done. I hope you have enjoyed this additional second class project. I very much enjoyed putting it together for you, and I can't wait to see your class project, so please do share what you're working on. Thanks again for joining me in this class and I'll see you next time. Look ahead, the sea is coming. I know we've been through a lot but just wait. Wait for better days to come and carry us like wind in our sails. Hold on tight, I can smell the shore right in front of me.