UPDATE! October 1st, 2023: This version of the website will no longer receive updates. Please transition to the new website for the best experience. Access V3 Now >>

Portrait Painting for Beginners

Welcome to the most structured and comprehensive portrait painting course ever produced. This course includes over 40 hours of video instruction, 24 self-study assignments, 27 painting demos, a color mixing guide PDF, and over 100 reference images to paint from. Internationally renowned painter Joseph Todorovitch teaches you everything you need to know to start making masterful portraits, including materials recommendations, how to finally nail color mixing, brushwork, and more! This course leaves nothing to guesswork. Every concept is explained, demonstrated, and practiced until you have a handle on it, all presented in the format and quality that you have come to expect from New Masters Academy.

14 Lessons 43h 5m 57s of videos

Level 1

Before learning how to paint with full color palettes, artists for centuries have begun using only a mixture of black and white paint known as grisaille. Learn how to use this excellent training approach to help you learn how to mix and apply paint, simplify your subject and draw with paint, design posterize shapes for value clarity, and how to make form read correctly, all without color!

Level 2

How do value design and color design work together in a portrait? What is color temperature and how do you apply it? How do you keep your paintings from getting muddy, or unclear? As you did before in the grisaille lesson, here you will do a 4-up painting thumbnail assignment as well as a longer portrait, applying concepts such as contrast, posterization, form, edge and brushwork and the focal point and first read.

Joseph will share his portrait painting process in a long-form demo from the live model. Building upon all of the previous lessons, Joseph will now attempt to create a more finished work, the way he would develop his own gallery pieces from his home studio. The first portion of this demonstration includes instruction in real time whereas the latter portion is time-lapsed with music underneath, which allows Joseph to focus on his work without the added burden of speaking.

Level 3

So far you have learned the concepts, and basics of painting the portrait, it’s time to start to put it into practice with a series of timed portrait paintings, each with a new model. In this session, Joseph paints a two-hour oil portrait from life from our model Amanda, with a special focus on drawing accuracy and value design. You can follow along with Joseph using the reference images provided.

Paint a two-hour oil study with our model Magaret. After a review lecture on color theory and mixing with Joseph, you will begin your portrait by using our provided reference images and following along with Joseph’s process. The focus of this portrait is solid color choices and how those colors relate to value design. This lesson included a downloadable PDF on color mixing.

Paint a two-hour oil study with our model Jeff. This time, you have the option to paint the same pose as Joseph with the provided reference and go through the entire exercise following along stroke for stroke, or challenge yourself to one of the other images and try to follow along with the process reference to the demonstration video. The focus for this session is on establishing solid structure and turning the form with light.

Paint a two-hour oil study with our model Vanna (following along as Joseph paints another model, Tracey). With more painting experience under your belt, you will begin to focus on getting further in the allotting two hours, including choosing an area of the painting for your first read. This focal point, will help you control your viewer’s experience and as your proceed through this course you will build greater and greater confidence.

Level 4

In this session you will do a two-hour oil painting with our model Mather. You have the option of painting the same post as Joseph, following along with the video demonstration stroke-for-stroke or you can choose your own pose and reference Joseph’s demonstration as you go. Mather has a beautiful color to her hair, which will provide a new challenge for you to proper mix and balance.

Paint a two-hour oil study with our model Ariel. In Joseph’s demo this time he will begin more expressively and loosely, relying less on drawing and more on big brushwork. You have the option of painting the same post as Joseph, following along with the video demonstration stroke-for-stroke or you can choose your own pose and reference Joseph’s demonstration as you go. Our references include simple more neutral poses of Ariel as well as some expression images. If you want an extra challenge try to capture one of the expressions withing your two hour time limit!

In this final session, you will do a painting with our model Yoni. For the last nine poses you have limited yourself to only two hours for each portrait. This time set your timer to a full four hours and see how far you can develop your painting. Again, you have the choice to follow along with Joseph stroke for stroke or to choose a different pose. Remember to bring your resolve/rendering up in one major area at a time and try to mentally plan your strategy before beginning!

Common Questions

Is this course good for beginners?

Joseph specializes in teaching a very efficient and beginner-friendly approach to painting. That said, you will not be learning drawing skills, construction drawing, or the anatomy of the head and neck in this course. Joseph assumes you have comfort with these subjects at least in drawing. We recommend you take head drawing courses on our site before attempting this course.

Which courses should I take before this one?

Competency of drawing is required for any painting course, but the portrait in particular. We recommend that you at least have some beginning drawing courses on our site as well as head drawing. This course also dovetails nicely with the Reilly method courses.

Can I do this course digitally (Photoshop, Procreate, etc)?

Like all New Masters Academy courses you can follow along digitally using a tablet. The fundamentals are what are most important. It will be up to you, however to interpret the information provided and try to apply it using the digital equivalents.

Can I do this course with acrylic paints?

Yes, but there are differences in color mixing, drying and other parts of the material side that you will have to interpret on your own.