- 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. Then he goes over another male head with attention to forms, color, and intricate halftones.
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.
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 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
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.
want to cover something that we got a lot of form and we can
handle some intricate half-tones. Our subject today
has quite a colorful
headband and jacket
and so we'll see how we can work with something that's got
that much color.
head. This time I wanted to show how the lighting describes
the form very clearly. You see that from the front plane of the
head is squarely in the light. And then the side plane on his
left side is in shadow. On the side plane on his right side is
getting the light but where it meets the front plane along the
and the under plane of the brow and tooth cylinder, we get a
reflection of the light source called a crest light that's
where two planes are more come together and
and reflect the source of light. So
that's the way that I see the form of the head and that's
what I'm going to try to emphasize in the painting. I'm
not going to bother doing a drawing here. I'll just start
off with a wash for the average color and temperature of his
head, which is warm.
So take here some
And I guess I'll mix in a little bit of raw sienna.
Just putting down a wash over the area that's going to
represent the head.
I'm using a hot press illustration board
15 by 20 divided in half.
So that would be about 10 by 15.
All right, and now let's try to mix up something of an average
So I'm putting in some yellow ochre some, raw sienna.
I'll take a little bit of cadmium red.
Neutralize it a little bit with some raw
Mix it up real
nice and well, so it's not lumpy or anything like that. And
start by drawing the head.
Now the head is not one uniform color,
it undergoes changes. A little more pink or red in the ear,
little more gray in the jaw,
and so on. But
for starters I'm not going to be too picky about those
This just gives me kind of a field of color to start working
Before I start painting the head and the shadows on it and
I should probably place some background color.
So let's take a -
guess we've got some ultramarine blue here,
Very strong tinting power if you can see my palette.
Background is a dark blue in this particular case.
I'll neutralize that a little bit with some rose matter or maybe
even more to the point with some cadmium red.
plan to go pretty dark. So the fact that it's really really
dark here on the palette and red doesn't disturb me. I'll just
take some more of the ultramarine.
A little bit more.
Might want to wet that background a little bit before
I put it down. So I'll take a clean clear brush,
put down some water on the painting
all around it.
I'm not trying for an exact match
to the color that's in the photograph. I could but I don't
see any purpose in it.
I've got a dark,
cool color happening, and that's about the most that I'm
Notice with the illustration board wet,
the paint just melts into itself, so it doesn't create a
lot of texture.
A little more blue here.
I could take a little more red for that matter.
It probably doesn't want to be absolutely uniform in color
For the moment will disregard his shirt and his hat.
So, you know, if I want to clear the paint that's on the brush a
cotton t-shirt rag works very well.
Now I'll squint at him and
when I do, you know, all these stripes and decorations on his
garment will kind of mass together into one
and it's kind of what I want them to do at this point.
Let's take some alizarin in crimson,
little bit of magenta, more crimson,
and just put this down as an average kind of for the
coloration of his shirt.
Clear the brush a little bit and then pick up something
that's leans more towards scarlet, which is what his cap
seems to be made of.
The values are still pretty light as you can see.
I'm not going very dark.
Let's pick up some more crimson,
maybe a little raw umber.
Or a lot raw umber, probably too much.
But that's easy to adjust.
And start painting in the light and dark pattern.
I'm being pretty free and easy about my shapes here.
I don't want to
be too stiff.
I'll take some black and a little crimson
and maybe we'll start painting some of the darkest darks on
It's good to get those darks in place early because they can
help you judge your other values as you proceed through
Just going to blow it dry now a little bit.
I'm going to switch over to some smaller brushes, but let
me first put in some of the stronger colors on the print on
I'll take a little bit of crimson here.
The color will draw a little less intense
than it looks when you first lay it on wet.
All right. So we're starting to get sort of a ghost, like a
vague impression of the head now.
I've been pretty clear, although very loose, about
delineating the shadow,
separating it from the light. I've got a lot of room to paint
down in value because I've put down pretty big
sort of a
light wash over the whole subject. Let me do one more
thing before I get back into the head. And this one
is going to be too dark and up that background.
So go back to our ultramarine blue.
pick up a little bit of rose matter here.
It's going to lend it a little bit of a violet cast. So kill
that with some raw umber.
Don't want it to be too colorful.
And then pick up a little more blue.
See where that takes us.
Remember, I can always test my color here.
There we go.
If you're looking at the photo reference it's a pretty dark
brushes as I begin to define the planes of the head and the
All this color I've mixed, it doesn't have to go to waste. It
can be used as part of my
Let me just blow-dry this for a moment.
Notice I kind of skip around the painting. I don't want to
fixate on any one area at this point.
Let's put a little more yellow in the forehead.
I'm kind of weaving the color. It's not all yellow on the at it's not all yellow on the
forehead, all red in the cheek, all gray in the jaw. It's got
some of everything.
couple little areas. Now I'm going to clean up using some
just some water.
Make my drawing a little more precise here.
So you can use Kleenex,
which I'm doing here.
You can also use Q-tips or rags.
This surface, the hot press illustration board,
it allows you to do this. Some surfaces are a little more
sensitive. You don't quite have the freedom to do this kind of
work on them. Thank you.
Here for instance is a Q-tip.
So you can carve out that light shape right there.
Same thing here.
You can help you manipulate your edges, too.
Okay, now we can start going back in, painting some of the
smaller light planes.
If I see a place in the painting or the same value of
color that I've got on my brush might apply then I'll use it.
So it's again, it's not like one area is all yellow and one
area is all blue and one area is all red.
The head has all of those colors.
And after all value is what is the dominant characteristic of
paint. That's what we're trying to keep pretty faithful to.
Let's strengthen that whole form shadow.
So I took some alizarin crimson, little bit of a
viridian or emerald green,
make a nice rich dark tone.
I like that stronger dark for the background. So I'm going to
just pause for a moment and
put that in place.
And let's see what that looks like.
Okay. Now when I darken the background I can see the values
on the head are still quite light and that means
now I can mix up the appropriate values to describe
Putting a little bit of gray around the jaw.
And for that I just used some cerulean blue pretty much.
I'm gonna put a little transition color between the
light pattern and the form shadow. Machado
It can be pretty warm here on the cheek.
for a couple hours the sketch, maybe a little bit less,
not bad. Again I just used hot press illustration board think
the format here is a 10 by 15.
well, first of all, you don't use very much paint with
watercolor and yet you get an awful lot done in a short time.
Our subject today was pretty intricate, man of amateur years,
lots of interesting planes to deal with. So
I had a good time painting him and I hope you guys get a
chance to practice at home.
Free to try
1. The First Demo 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 31s
5. Assignment Instructions28s
6. The Second Demo Overview28s
7. Painting a Male Head on a Hot Press Illustration Board (Part 4)22m 20s
8. Painting a Male Head on a Hot Press Illustration Board (Part 5)32m 3s
9. Lesson Summary32s