- Lesson details
In This Lesson:
Mark paints a male head on Crescent hot press illustration board, 10×15. This time, he works on smaller planes.
In This Course:
Learn to paint the portrait in watercolor with this new course from the late Mark Westermoe.
Mark Westermoe was a renowned artist, illustrator, and instructor, known for his work on many feature film posters such as Braveheart, Total Recall, and Home Alone.
Mark will cover all the tools and materials youʼll need for work in watercolor. You will start with small watercolor sketches and work your way to painting finished portraits using the Reilly Method.
You will learn to not simply copy your subject, but to add your own attitude to your portraiture.
In Mark’s words: “Try to bring yourself into whatever subject youʼre drawing or painting. As long as you have that youʼll maintain your interest.”
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going to paint a
male head and I'll be working on hot press illustration board,
Crescent board. It's 15 by 20, but I'm going to tape it off
into half so it'll wind up being 10 by 15.
It's going to be very similar to what I did last lesson on
the small scale, but we'll have a little more opportunity to
draw with the brush and paint some smaller planes.
I've selected a male head with form lighting coming from the
left so you can see that all the shadow is on the right side
of the subject.
We do have a lot of half tone detail in the light. So that
should be interesting.
It's a direct front view
so our proportions
are pretty basic. I think it's a slight upshot. We see slightly
under the chin. And so the lobes of the ear are a little
lower than the base of the nose and a little bit lower also
from the eye sockets. These are the things that I first look at.
Now I'm going to just do a very very basic line sketch.
Even a mechanical graphite pencil would be useful for
But in my case, I've just got a pencil that's sharpened to a fairly
Painting will be somewhat smaller than life size.
Setting up the brow line base of the nose halfway from the
brow where it overlaps the
eye to the base of the chin and then
bottom of the lower lip.
Extend the neck.
And we'll have probably a little room for the shoulder
girdle beneath it.
Little more loose in setting up a watercolor then I am and say
an academic figure drawing or painting.
I'll rely a lot just on the brush and the paint.
You'll notice that the shadows are somewhat lighter in some
areas than in others.
I'll keep that
because with watercolor it's difficult to go back and
But on the whole don't be too consumed with
the changes in value between your lights
and your shadows.
They should maintain their distinction.
Okay. Now we've got a dark blue background, blue gray. And so I
got a couple directions I can take this.
One, I can paint in an average for his flesh tone and then cut
back in with the background or I could start by cutting back
in with the background and then painting his flesh tone. I
think in our case, I'll start off with a painting flesh tone.
It's been a week, my paint has
I added one extra color, which is Davy's Gray.
It's just it's a color that's somewhat partially opaque. Here
it is. And it
it allows me to work back into it on top of the painting.
So it's almost got certain gouache type quality to it. The
rest of the paints,
they should be dry from last week. And that's the way we
want to handle watercolor. So
let's dip into the water and start off by painting some of
the skin tone.
For that I'm going to use some yellow ochre.
I'll wet the board. This today is hot press which is
smooth, hot press illustration board.
So, let me just wet that down
before I apply the color.
I'm not confining it just to the edges of my graphite
drawing, I'm allowing it to bleed over a just a little bit
So back to the yellow ochre.
Take a little bit of cadmium red light
and mix it together.
This is a pretty good base for a Caucasian
If it gets a little too pink, which this may be at this point,
you can do a few things. You can add a little bit of
I think this is wrong umber.
That will neutralize that somewhat.
But again with water color you want to paint light and then
darker on top of it.
This bass tone has
aspects later that as we develop it that will be
more warm or red and others that will be cooler or grayer.
But for now, I'm pretty much putting down an average.
It will dry a little bit lighter than this first wash.
Through the middle of the face, the nose, the ears,
get a little bit more ruddy.
a little more yellow.
And then as we move into the jaw -
get a little blue here -
it's going to turn a little more gray.
So I have cerulean blue, which is the more warm blue, and then
I also have a ultramarine blue.
All these colors will melt into each other. They'll
tend to blend.
Here with a little bit of alizarin crimson,
I might want to redden up the
the color of the neck.
These are not shadow values or colors. These are colors in the
Really almost staining basically the
paper. And I'm using a hot press illustration board, very
smooth. It absorbs color, but
pretty much stays on the surface as well.
All right now for the background.
Could you tear off a couple of those for me?
I'll carve into the head a little bit with the dark blue
or middle blue background.
And so here,
probably going to use a little ultramarine blue.
I think this is our
violet. Payne's gray is here, which is a mixture of
black and ultramarine.
Let's go back for some more ultramarine. rain.
That should be pretty close.
Even though this is not going to be absolutely precise,
it will help to set a color key.
In other words
we have a warm head and a cool background.
And until we're clear about that, it'll be difficult to
pick our colors as we proceed. superseded.
Look, I've got the whole board covered now
and so we can start to make a few moves. First of which will
define the light and dark pattern
on our subject's head.
So for that.
I need to pick up a value and color
for the shadow.
Take a little rose madder,
add a little raw Sienna, so it's neutralized slightly.
Don't want this to be too thin.
If you have to put on too many layers
of color it can look a little overworked and muddy. So we do
want to be pretty precise with this.
And I want to have enough pigment
in the mix
not too much water.
I can always test it you see here.
Maybe put it up here for you. See
yeah, like that.
There's a little magenta but magenta is a very high tinting
power and so you want to knock it down a little bit with its
complement, which would be a yellow. So I chose yellow -
I'm sorry, raw sienna.
That would work.
And let's do another little test.
I'm getting there.
Put a little green in it to to neutralize it.
See where we're standing with that. Okay.
I'm squinting as I look at the photograph
applying the paint
so that I don't get distracted by so many small details.
He's got a lot of secondary forms, creases, wrinkles.
That's not where it's at, is getting the whole shape of the
So that's what I look forward to stage.
Or for that matter at all stages.
Notice a little bit of paint goes a long ways.
You may spend a fair amount of money on your water color
palette at the beginning of this class, but it will last
the whole class
I have paper towels and I have Kleenexes. Kleenexes are really
good for just picking up any excess that forms as you paint.
So I put down a set of planes that might be a little too
water laden like that one. I just pick it up with the
So at this point, I've broken it down now into its main
elements: average light,
light version of the background, and then a light version of the
I think at this point we'll use a hair dryer just to
settle the tones in and then we'll begin to break it down
It's optional I can clean up my palette a little bit during it
into the mixing area,
or I could just continue with that. It's okay.
I use a hair dryer now just to dry what I've done.
Now we can start to develop our darkest darks. Obviously these
are just averages and they don't go nearly as dark as we
find inside the eye socket for instance or under the jaw.
We also now have a chance to develop some of the half tones,
that would be the tones within the light and also darken the
background, be a little more specific with the silhouettes.
I'm using again soft synthetic Filbert brushes.
I'll be switching over to some round brushes, which are
pointed. But at this point this works well.
Okay, so a little bit of water
and let's mix up
another value for the shadows.
So using a little bit of rose madder
and some alizarin crimson
and with it
Now this is not the last time that we're going to wet the
paper a little bit.
So when I applied the paint
it goes down in a manner that's not strictly scissor cut or
hard-edged but has some nuance to it.
So, let me just take a clean brush and do a bit of that.
Then I can work into it as I go.
I'm gonna cool that shadow a little bit with some cerulean
here. We're going to get a little more precise,
a little more specific than we were at first, of course.
If I'd like the edge to be a little softer,
I just use a little paper towel.
So here the drawing
becomes more specific.
Ultramarine blue. Let's get that a little darker.
Start putting in some half tones now.
Just took some pure cadmium red.
Little bit of cerulean blue.
Paint some of the planes around the jaw.
You kind of weave a painting, you don't just use the bluish
areas in the jaw. If you see them elsewhere, then go ahead
and apply them too.
Test it on my
slip sheet over here.
I use this color of again elsewhere where I feel that the
I'm not done with the final colors anyway, so
if I can use it
to establish value I will.
Take a little bit of alizarin crimson
and mix it with a viridian or emerald green.
That will give us a really rich dark
because I want to start establishing my darkest darks
in the subject.
Put a little bit of a
cadmium red into the mix here
because we're working on the ear.
And here around the nose.
Well, does that apply to the mouth? I think so.
So let's work a little bit around here.
How about the other ear?
Let's put a half tone around the silhouettes.
So that's a little dark.
Just touch it with the kleenex, see?
Perfect. No problem.
We're just darkening the background a little more,
mostly using ultramarine blue.
wet the background too.
Alright, so now let's carry on.
I'll start to paint -
there's still a lot less contrast in the painting than
there is in the photograph. So we're going to address that
Taking some rose madder,
mixing it up here with a little bit of a raw umber to
And some alizarin crimson to warm it up.
Always remember with watercolor you can go darker, but you
can't really go much lighter.
So I'm focusing on areas
that I identified as my darks and then now
painting them as such.
Wet this area a little bit more and we'll come back in
with the darker
I'm going to switch over to some round brushes now and
paint some of the half tone forms
using raw sienna
and some cadmium red light.
Some yellow ochre,
a little touch of
raw umber to neutralize that a little bit.
But it's still going to be quite warm.
You see how just a little bit of pigment goes a long way with
I took a little cerulean blue
and put it in the mix here. So I'm gonna work around the jaw
something a little bit, where the color is a little cooler.
And you know if it suits elsewhere, I'll put a little
bit here a little bit there.
Now I'm pretty much just drawing with the brush, both with my
edges, my planes, and my values. No, I'm pretty much just dry
some of the paint that's on the paper already.
So you can manipulate the edges a little bit therefore.
Just painting the planes very close values.
Let's work on the neck a little bit.
Mixing up a really deep dark using wiridian and
ultramarine - I'm sorry and alizarin crimson.
Let's introduce a little bit of cool
into the painting.
So I'm just using some cerulean blue.
It's got a pretty low tinting power.
So I can be pretty liberal with it
if I want to.
So not using any one color.
I'm using a variety of colors.
So if you look at the palette, I kind of have a mother color
here and I can cool it down using cerulean or ultramarine
or I can warm it up using cadmium red
it serves my purposes pretty well.
And I play off of that throughout most of the
So here I added a little bit of cadmium red light.
And I work around the nose
which naturally has more
of a ruddy complexion to it.
So when I modeled the forms around it
it can be helpful to have that color and just add, like I said
in this case, a little cadmium red light.
Or I can put in a little bit of a yellow ochre or raw sienna
and yellow that up a little bit.
It doesn't take much
Forehead has a little more yellow to it.
you play that up somewhat.
I just put a little more ultramarine blue into the mix
because I'm working in the jaw area now, which is cooler
than most of the rest of the head.
Forehead's a little more yellow so
we'll use a little bit of yellow ochre here.
But I'll use it elsewhere if the value works.
And I can tint it with a little bit of a
cad red or alizarin crimson.
And go back and work on the neck a little bit.
I'll just wet that other area first.
Okay. So this is a couple hour study.
We could carry it further by going into smaller planes and
half tones. But for the most part
just gives you an idea of how to approach
a larger head in watercolor. Next week will work on a female
head which will be a little more subtle and a little more
difficult as a matter of fact than most male heads, but for now
good, you can see areas here where colors are picked up
there and there and here and here so it's weaving a painting
really. It's not just painting a set of colors for one series of
planes and then another for a different series of plans, but
instead trying have an overall yellowish
color scheme for forehead and a little more
ruddy for the face and a little more gray for the jaw, but it's
not exclusively one or another they're all woven together like
Okay, good. Well, that's it for today's lesson and next
week we'll work on an even more subtle subject matter.
Watercolor on hot, press Crescent illustration board.
Make sure you try to do homework. Don't have to paint
large, just try small and we'll progressively move up to
portrait size. Okay. Good luck, and thank you.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview48sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Painting a Male Head on a Hot Press Illustration Board (Part 1)28m 23s
3. Painting a Male Head on a Hot Press Illustration Board (Part 2)23m 52s
4. Painting a Male Head on a Hot Press Illustration Board (Part 3)28m 41s
5. Lesson Summary and Assignment Instructions28s