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Submitted on
August 11, 2005
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Painter Portrait Tutorial by shley77 Painter Portrait Tutorial by shley77
Please be informed, I am turning off comments here solely because I'm moving accounts, and this is one of my most commented on (continues to be) pieces. Thank you for all your comments :) If you want to continue to follow my work please go here: *doomburg:icondoomburg:

To new commenters (or rather the snarky ones):

Since you didn't notice yourself, I will direct your attention to the DATE this deviation was submitted. SIX YEARS AGO. If you intend to make comments about how pointless it is to copy a photo like this, I would ask you actually look at my gallery to notice this kind of commentary is absolutely irrelevant now.
I have come to this realization on my own.
There is a reason this is in scraps. I do not delete my old works because it reminds me, and shows others, where I've come from, it's a documentation of my artistic development.
The least you could do before posting a remark such as that is notice your comment would no longer apply.

Furthermore, while I realize the lack of conceptual meaning in my old methods, the information and technical skill I have garnered from doing this for so long I find extremely valuable now. So obviously there is some kind of information to be learned from this process, and I would remind you sometimes practicing solely technical methods can aid you in more personal artistic endeavors.


oh, and sorry bout the watermarks, been having trouble with art thiefs lately...

okay everybody! welcome to my first attempt at a full scale digital portrait tutorial. it covers everything i do when i work with portraits digitally. this picture was done in Corel Painter Essentials, the half-assed version that came with my tablet, sooooo some things may be different then in full scale Painter, but it still works the same. anyway, LEAVE ME A LINK TO DEVIATIONS YOU USE THIS FOR!!!! I WANNA SEE THEM!!!!!

and now, on to the tutorial!!!!

first off, im gonna tell you guys some things i DONT do, that WONT be covered in this tutorial.
1. i dont use blenders, i dont like the digital ones:P i just use the pen pressure to regulate the color and blend everything, go back over things and such.
2. i dont TRACE anything! its way too easy i think, to trace the original picture when working digitally. dont do that! its your artwork, make it all your own^_^
3. i dont use a mouse for any of this, this is all done with a tablet.
4. i dont do single layers! i use a bunch of layers to make a more natural effect, if you wanna do all one layer, go for it^_^

now that thats out of the way.....
on to the tutorial!!!
the sketch:
1. okay, i didnt really put my original sketch of this in the tutorial picture, sorry about that, if you must see it ask me for it and ill show you or you can check it out in my scraps section! submitted it a while back^_^. but some basic tips with the sketching, if you're doing it on the computer, like i did with this one, then i would open the original file as the same size as the original picture, or exactly twice or three times the size, this way measuring things up will be easier.
2. start off in a place you feel comfortable, i personally usually start out with the outline of the face, then go from there. try to use other parts of the face to measure the features. like lining up the eyes with the ear, or the eyebrows with the nose. here are some general rules to remember, the top of the ears line up with the eyebrows, and the bottom of the ears line up with the tip of the nose. this is just a general rule, in most cases. try to line up the corresponding features too, like left ear to left eye, right ear to right nostril, etc. also, the inner part of the eybrow often lines up fairly well with the outside of the nostril. unless its a person with a unibrow, then well, it just doesnt work, lol.
3. when doing this on the computer, if you're gonna have a background, i suggest doing that first before you do anything! that way, you can just add layers and draw right on top of it:D
4. my sketches for portraits on the computer tend to be kinda messy, and thats fine, just keep in mind that if youre only doing one layer for everything, you gotta cover up ALL your sketch lines to make it really realistic. if you do it on multiple layers, you can just erase strategically, lol.

the eyes: my favorite part^_^
1. I usually start out with the eyes first and work my way around, but you start wherever you feel comfortable.
2. my personal feeling, is that the eyes are the one place you can see a person's true emotion, their soul (sounds so hokey, im sorry, lol) so i try to put a lot of effort into working them and making them look really alive.
3. to start off, i usually color in the general area of the white of the eyes and the iris with a flat color, use one thats in the actual picture, then go off and start around the eye, coloring in the skin. this way, your colors will look better when you start on the actual eye. im gonna explain my blending now to get it out of the way. no blenders. just pick a color, paint it where it is, then pick the color after it, maybe the lighter or darker color, and paint into the other color softly (use teh pen pressure) just keep going back and forth with the colors till you get the desired softness:) any questions? leave a comment, ill get to you asap!
4. be sure to add in wrinkles and such around them, it gives them character^_^ if the person has dark circles around their eyes, put them there! flaws are part of what makes that person look the way they do. for example, if you look at dan's eyes, i mean really look, youll notice one of them is bigger then the other one! bet you wouldnt've noticed if i didnt tell ya;)
5. after you finish with coloring in the skin, start working on the iris. MAKE SURE to include the lines and shading in the iris in really tedious detail. add in the different colors too, like, a lot of people who have green eyes, have brown laced in them, so add that in. add in all the colors you see. all those lines and thing are actually like little muscles to open and close up to regulate the amount of light that comes into the eye^_^ and everybody's is differtent, theyre just like fingerprints, unique to each person!
6. after you shade in the iris, go to the white part of the eye, id give you a technical name, but i cant remember it, lol. use assorted colors to get it to look right, browns and mahoganys are very often in the eye, but are overlooked. the eye is not completely white, and just using greys to shade it wont work very well, itll look kinda fake. also pay attention to reflections now, you can add an extra layer for the reflections so you can work on them independantly of the rest of the eye.
7. with the eyes, i tend to overexaggerrate some of the reflection, sometimes it can help to really bring a picture to life, but dont overdo it. when you add in the lense reflections in the iris (like little very faint light circles in the iris) i tend to bring them out a bit more, and you can see an example of that in dan's left eye.

the nose:
1. the nose can be really hard to do, because no matter what, because it is actually attached to the face, it is COMPLETELY un-outlineable, lol. the shadowing and all when done wrong, can make it look like it's completely detached from the face, not good. to avoid this, make sure to match your colors really well, if you want to use the eyedropper tool, go ahead. i use it often when working with the skin, and tweak it a lot if i dont like the color.
2. to start of the nose, i tend to start with the tip first. place shadows first, then midtones, and lights. then later after you're finished you can darken or lighten to your liking.
3. make sure, if you're making your own colors, to be really careful about the shadow under the nose. it doesnt always look as dark as it is! in this picture, though it may look black, i first went with a dark wine color, and it worked. skin tones are always reddish, or yellowish browns, lightened or darkened. unless of course, the lighting in your picture is odd and is blue, purple or green, lol. but even then skin tones show through!
4. when you finish working with the tip of the nose, go ahead and start on the bridge. the bridge is, i think, the hardest to get right, especially in pictures like this. the lighting is often tricky. use other parts of the face to measure and make sure everything is right. for example, use the size of the bridge in comparison with the eye, and see if its right in your picture. or, you could just make a new layer, draw a line from one side to the other, and move the layer to a part of the face that lines up right, and see if it works in your picture as well.
5. make sure the bridge fans out and blends nicely with the cheeks, or else it'll look out of place:D

1. okay, unfortuneately in this picture, there really is not that much to the lips, so im just gonna give a few pointers. first of all, when you draw guys, always draw what you see, if they have big red lips, give 'em big red lips. a lot of people tend to shy away from big lips on boys.
2. when you start to color the lips, fade the edge of them into the skin! thats a big mistake people tend to make, at some point, the lips transition into the skin and the color should fade along with it. it should be a very soft natural transition^_^
3. always put in the wrinkles and cracks, makes them more realitic, nobody has perfectly smooth lips! add shine and all too, shadows and highlights always! dont just leave kinda plain or theyll look flat:D
4. not everybody has perfectly even lips, or perfectly even features for that matter, always remember that! the cupid's bow shape (common shape for the upper lip) is not always gonna be there, some people have rounder lips, or longer lips etc. just really watch out for detail and really pay attention to the overall general shape of the lips. the tiniest details can make a person's face look off!

1 always use singular hairs to make up the eyebrows and always put down a shadow color underneath of them before you start. in this case it was a light mahogany color.
2. after you put down the base color, you can add another layer to start off the hairs of the brows. make sure to put in little straggly hairs if they're there.
3. make sure not to make all the hairs the same, change color a bit where you see it. make sure to keep your color palette open so you can change from light to dark without dragging out the eyedropper tool.
4. fill in dark spots, and continue to use the 1 pixel brush for this.
5. when you're finished, as long as you were patient and not crazy with your brushstrokes, you should get a nicely shaped eyebrow!!

the neck/skin:
1. first put down a base color, preferably a color that is common in the area you're about to work on.
2. use that color to shape up other parts of skin, in this case, the chin and outline of the face.
3. after youre finished with that, make a new layer overtop of that one, and start to shade in the skin. use the eyedropper tool if you need to, to get the right tones, but sometimes you just gotta work with the colors yourself^_^ dont worry about covering up parts of the chin and such for now, it'll make the shading look more natural underneath the chin, it can easily be erased later (seeing as its on a new layer)
4. make sure to add in those little wrinkles, they're there, so dont just leave them out!
5. always remember that in a portrait like this, the feature of the face are completely defined by shadow and color, outlining them is only gonna make it look terribly fake>.<

woo, my FAVORITE part (sarcasm)
1. start out with some base colors, mostly the darkest and midtone colors, use a big brush and just fill it all in.
2. make a new layer, then pick a section to work on and zoom in. use your smallest brush (1 pixel!!!) to start drawing in the individual hairs, and pick a color.
3 use varying pressure (only works with tablet) to get different shades of that color, only start out with one color at first. just to get where everything is.if you lose your place, its perfectly fine. dont erase and start all over again or anything, getting the hair the exact same way as in the picture, is rather boring:P and extremely annoying, so i wouldnt even worry too much about it.
4. if you need to, making different layers for the hair would be a good idea. a lot of times you have some parts that lay over eachother (like the bangs) and its much easier to just work under or over, then around some individual hairs^_^
5. if you get tired of working on a section, there's nothing wrong with abandonning it for a bit and going to another section, for those of us with short attention spans (waves arm wildly), makes it a bit easier to concentrate for longer. also, you could distract yourself by doing other things for a bit, then coming back! which is what im doing at this very moment, by typing up this tutorial! :D
6. i find it easiest to start out with all the darker colors, then work up to the lighter ones.
7. for this particular picture, i did the layers in a certain way. since there were a lot of hairs that were lighter underneath darker ones, i use one layer to do the dark hairs, then used another layer underneath to do underlayin light hairs, then a layer overtop to do the hairs that were, obviously, on the top. try to think in 3D terms when placing your layers, whats on top of what etc, everything will look more natural that way^_^
8. the great thing about hair is that its so random, you can play around with it a bit. one mistake often made is just draw individual strands, or making the hair too uniform. personally, i do use individual strands, but those strands are bunch together to form one solid shadow. if i leanred anything from anyone, it was to treat the hair like a solid object, and also as singular hairs. sort of condradicting, but live with it, and your hair will much improve!
9. work your way across the hair, doesnt matter the direction, whatever suits you^_^ but remember, if you use layers, think 3D with them. add as many layers as you need, i often add new under/overlayers as i go across because im too lazy to use the ones i already have, lol.
10. always include tiny hairs wherever you see them, they may be looked over by the viewer, but it still adds a whole lot to the detail of the picture!!!!!!
11. if youve got a picture in which the hair frames the face, you can use it to properly shape the face to your liking, just make sure to conceal if there's an odd line outlining his face. if you cover up any hairs draw them back in to make it look more natural.

okay, so not much to say here! clothing is annoying ill admit, but i can at least give some tips on it, seeing as there really isnt much to the clothing in this picture.
1. dont shy away from texture! i like the chalk brush personally, when drawing clothing, and if that doesnt work for you, you can always add texture with a filter or somethin later^_^
2. dont shy away from the wrinkles in the fabric either, but make sure not to make them too uniform, uniformity (is that a word???) is a bad bad thing in relaism, lol.
3. dont be too excessive with the wrinkles and folds, too many is bad. draw as many as you see, no more or less. im nto saying site there and count how many folds there are, just do a general eye check and DRAW WHAT YOU SEE!!!

1. not much of a pictoral representation up there, but the glasses were quick, so ill just explain. i started off the the black first, seeing as the darkest color of them was black. i zoomed in really close on the frames to catch the reflection on them. yes, there is reflection on them! i made up some of my own colors for this, as some of the shading was so miniscule.
2. after i finished with the black, i went to the bridge and other shiney parts, and went from dark, to midtone, to light, adding the brightest colors last and in small amounts. i exaggerated a bit with this, but only a bit, just to bring some of the shine out more^_^

this tutorial is based mostly on the fact that you want to replicate a picture completely, but adding in other things (like changing the background and adding that waterdroplet) make the art work stand away from the picture, so play with it a little bit^_^ if you dont liek something about the picture, then leave it out or change it a little. if you're still going for realism and complete replication, dont change it too much, lol. practice a lot to get into your comfort zone when working with artwork like this. it can be tedious, and really frustrating, so find something that makes you concentrate longer. for me, angry music, haha. anyway, i hope this tutorial helped you!!!!! please feel free to show me anything you've done using it:D
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