- Lesson details
In This Lesson:
From this lesson, you can learn how to model a head with color. This time Mark paints a female portrait on the cold press illustration board. He chose a very rhythmical, classic, romantic type of pose which will take three lessons to complete. First Mark does the graphite drawing part, then he puts down the base tones and goes into detailing the facial features. After that, Mark works on the hair and the darks, he demonstrates how to achieve a full range of value in your painting.
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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working on cold-press illustration board. It's a very
kind of classic romantic type of pose and the hair and the
boa that she wears, all that. I want to do justice to that
subject matter with the watercolor. So I'll spend the
first session this one doing a drawing a careful drawing.
Last session you might recall I didn't start with any kind of
a drawing. I just started directly painting but for this
one because of the elements which you'll see
coordinate each to the other. It's really a good idea to do a
pretty good drawing. There are such things as quick
watercolor sketches, but at the same time this is going to actually
become, you know, finished watercolor. So that's what
we're going to do today. And then next session
we will go on to doing the painting and we'll explore
All right. Well, I hope you enjoy and learn from this
head painting and watercolor class. This time we're going to
work with a female and I like this particular pose partly
because it's kind of romantic with her hair, you know, waving
off to the right
and creating nice interesting shapes and rhythms.
We also have
not only a three-quarter view, but we have light coming from
the left and so our shadow pattern is going to be on the right
side as we look at it or left side of the nose
and we have a couple cast shadows particularly under the
and we're also going to have the side, the right side of her
head, from the zygoma or cheek bone all the way down to
the corner of the mouth and then down along the chin to
the base of the jaw.
And the interesting thing about this shadow pattern
you'll notice it's got a lot of reflected light, a lot of fill
light. Not sure if they used a reflector on this particular
or if it's just off of the ambient light in the room.
So that means you don't want to make your shadows a real super
It's not in keeping with the mood of the photograph and the
pose and it's also not -
it's going to - it's not going to let the head breathe a little
bit which this
shadow with the reflected light will help to so we'll be
looking for that. But do notice that the reflected light in the
shadow see is still darker than any halftone within the light
pattern. So don't let it get as light as the lights on her
face or on her
torso and shoulder.
We have a few textural elements here that
might we might able to tackle by
use of Kleenex and Q-Tip and and then painting into it a
little bit but we'll see as we go, there are a number of ways
of handling that sort of thing.
Okay. What I am going to do to start is do a quick pencil
we want to keep the head raised so that it's -
if this is the center line approximately
of your image
You want the body of the head to be above that line. You have
to take into account how much the hair takes up in this
image. So we're going to be placing the head
in the first half
of a division
that goes vertically like this.
So that's the approximate center. Notice I draw lightly.
The approximate center of the format which is quite the format which is quite
Probably about a two by three ratio, two across, three down.
Which is close to a movie poster ratio.
Okay, so we want to look at the farthest point to the right in
our composition and the farthest point to the left. And
I think I'm going to go with pretty much what we've got
here. But I'm going to consider maybe cutting the - cropping the
right at the pit of the neck and not too much below it. I
think that's probably the best option. Okay, so When we have a
three quarter head we want to put in place an oval for the head
and then we want to run a line not down the center of that
oval but somewhat to the left of that oval because that
represents the center of the
central axis of the head.
So let's go ahead and start. The highest point on our image is
this plane of hair here
let's try to place the
chin about here,
even a little bit farther to the left.
There's the line of the
scalp about there.
the drawing is going to be specific, but it's not going to be super
Look at the hair overlapping her forehead
and these strands of hair plus the shadows beneath them
not going to probably draw now. I might suggest one or two, but
that will be for the painting.
So there's an approximate central axis.
Let's indicate the position and sweep of her hair.
coming up under the chin
and then down
and off to the left.
We will draw the shoulder and the pit of the neck after we
get the head more established.
I'm going to go ahead and
let the hair run off the
and I'm just using this as a
cold press illustration board today.
Notice, it's a little bit off white.
It's kind of a little warm and then a little off white.
That's where the ear falls pretty much and then here
we get the line of her neck.
Okay, so now let's establish the highest point in the head,
the lowest point of the head and we're going to divide that
distance in half.
We're gonna add a little bit
above it where the brow
overlaps the eyeballs. The halfway position top to bottom
is where the eyes are located. Thus the line I've drawn above
it is where the brow structure overlaps the eyeballs.
And from that point to the base of the head, we're going to
divide in half and that will give us the extent of the
height of the nose
Then we're going to take the distance from the base of the
nose to the chin and divide it in half and that will be the
bottom of the lower lip. Those are standard proportions
she's probably pretty close to them. She has sort of a
So there are some points of deviation from the standard but
not that important at this point. I'm going to turn the
head back here at the temple on the forehead
Got a long neck.
The shoulder line
is about here
and the wrap comes over
about like that.
And there's the top of her arm.
Okay, now we're going to go back into
these proportions and design the specifics of her head. I'll
start - I usually do - at this
above the bridge of the nose.
then I'm going to add
let's follow the bridge of the nose
down to the base
and those turns under
and falls into shadow
wraps out over the tooth cylinder
and the wing of the nose ends about here.
And then if I go from the wing of the nose along the same
angle as the bridge,
I can draw a straight line
and that will give us the point at which the tear duct falls.
when you squint at the head, you can help simplify all that
especially in the
in the facial features, the nose, mouth, and the eyes.
orbicularis oculi muscle comes from the brow bone and
overlaps the eyeball.
And so we want to show that.
And then we're going to draw up from beneath it to indicate
Notice that especially with makeup the eyelid is fairly
So we're going from the bigger shapes progressively to the
Get a little more specific with the shape of the side plane of
It falls against the diagonal plane,
which is the front plane of the facial mass.
And when it does that it creates a diagonal movement.
Try to gauge the distance between the wing of the nose
and the base of the eye socket.
That'll help prevent a nose looking too long.
or part of the head looking too short.
So you keep doing these cross checks with other shapes that
you've established in the drawing.
Naturally, they may be in error.
So you have to be very careful about placing your shapes to
All right. Let's see. Now we pick up here
And beneath the philtrum
the peak of the lip
and we've got the bottom of the lip pretty well and halfway
between those two points
the lip overlaps the lower lip
I'm going to look for the corner of the mouth.
And that lines up under the highlight in her eye.
And I'll line up the other corner
which lines up
almost where we picked up the iris.
And then I'm going to draw an ellipse. lips.
This is the plane beneath her lower lip above the chin.
It's the orbicularis Oris muscle.
Here's a shadow coming off the eye over the cheekbone
and then from there
the cheekbone is in shadow.
The side plane of the facial mass is in Shadow.
And so I'm looking at that triangle of light here
and I'm trying to match it up
She has a fairly prominent chin
which ends there
and then the big shape of the head will be refined a little
The corner of the jaw where it turns from vertical to diagonal
is approximately on line with the
top of the chin.
The earlobe lines up just below.
The base of the nose because her head is tilted back a
little bit. So it's a
in which case the facial features
rise relative to the ear.
And the pit of the neck lines up
just beneath the outside of her iris.
is the sternal mastoid muscle
running up behind the ear to the back of the skull.
There's the form shadow at the head of her arm.
And here is the boa. Okay, let's get a little more into
the hair now.
There is a light and dark pattern to her hair.
First of all, you see a crust of light here.
You also see
Primarily the hair just overlapping the boa which is up
into here and this is where that overlap occurs.
So now I'm just going to take a white vinyl eraser pen and I
could use a kneaded eraser to be just as good and I'm just
going to take out
some of the earlier construction lines, the
proportion lines and so on.
Just basically to clean up.
And don't wipe it with your hands,
use a Kleenex or desk brush.
I wouldn't use charcoal.
Or a wax pencil if you're going to do a preliminary drawing.
Because you need to be able to erase it
Some of the facial features which are dark in nature.
We're going to
draw them a little bit darker before I proceed to painting.
Some places I kind of cross-hatched a little bit of
a darker value so I could separate my lights from shadows,
see it clearly. But before I paint generally want to remove
I'll keep the borders of those areas intact but
I'll take out any of this cross hatching.
I've lightened a couple of strokes too without erasing them
in particular these strands of hair on the forehead.
This is a 4B graphite graphite pencil. I'm using so it doesn't
take much pressure for it to go sufficiently dark.
you certainly don't want to go dark dark, that's what your paint is
so that's just about
good enough. It's a lot tighter actually of a drawing
I often do in watercolor, but it's got so much interesting
stuff going on, so many different textures and rhythms
and she's very beautiful. We want to design the head as
nicely as you can
that I took the time to do that.
I just started off with paint and that was that so it depends
on how precise the project has to be
or just how you're feeling about it that day.
After all, when you paint with a brush, you're just drawing so
it's not really different from -
in real ways - from
working with your pencil.
cleaned it up and darkened a few areas, but I kept it very
light so I don't really want the drawing to be dominant, it's
after all a painting. And the drawing will continue when we
We'll be refining it at all stages. So this now gives us the chance
to go over a color and focus on that and other things like
paint application and edges. So
I hope you learned a little from this one. If you get the
chance, you can take my lead and find a good photo and just
go ahead and do a careful graphite drawing.
Try not to use wax pencil, Conte, or charcoal
because they're kind of permanent and make sure you
draw a light and we'll finish the painting in two sessions.
we've gone ahead and done the drawing lightly and it's just
graphite. So now I'm going to go over it with color. And for
starters I think I'll
put down water wash over the head,
over all of it except the background. I'll probably do a
vignette which means the background won't be painted. So
I'm just going to dip - this is a filbert, soft synthetic
Filbert brush. Dip it in the water and just lay down water
before I lay down paint.
And don't push.
You don't want the graphite to smear into the color, which
we're going to apply later.
Just lay it down.
If it drips a little bit, so that's all right.
There's not much humidity in the air today. So the paint
will set up and dry
a bit faster than it might otherwise do.
If you have some excess water, you don't want it to run or
Just take a Kleenex dabbing little bit.
I'm going to kind of mix up a
an overall flesh tone for the face, the shoulder, and neck and
one formula that tends to work pretty well
is a little bit of yellow ochre
and then a little bit of cadmium red light.
Just maybe a tiny little touch of magenta
that would take it away from
a little bit overly orange kind of a color cast.
Yeah like that more.
And we can test that.
I'm going to mix a little water into that.
Just add a little more pigment because
I've used up quite a bit of it already. So let me just mix
The cad red light has a higher tinting power by far the yellow
a little bit of it goes a long way. I'm going to bring some
more yellow ochre back into it.
All right, and then just a touch of magenta.
And probably thin that down a little bit.
I'll pick up a little bit of raw sienna
and mix in some
cadmium red light, maybe even a little bit of alizarin
And then I'll
a color tone over the hair with that.
Maybe a little yellow ochre, too.
I'll just take a clean
filbert synthetic brush
and touch into those edges a little bit so it's not quite
such a hard edge.
This area for instance.
Then soften up a couple of edges here.
Okay for the boa
I see a lot of violet or even purple in that.
And so we're going to mix something up along those lines.
Just clean up that mixing area.
Starts off pretty strong because that's paint right out
of the tube. But the complement to this color is yellow. So,
let's see what we can do.
I'll take some cadmium yellow light.
Put the two together.
That's pretty good. That's a nice rich dark. I think I'm going
to re-wet the
the area where the boa
will be painted.
You can do this with Kleenex, which is to just pick up some
of the extra water. I wouldn't recommend paper towels for
this. They're just too harsh.
So any kind of facial tissue is going to be better for you.
Let's mix up a little bit more of the pigment here.
Just picking up some of this
more yellow version
of the boa color and placing some of the darks
in her hair.
Softening a few edges because you don't want it to be to ocut out
We are trying to be a little graphic about these shapes, but
they have to breathe a little bit, too.
Okay, I'll just clean my brushes now.
And we'll start painting in some of the shadows on her
nose under her lip and of course along the side plane of
her face as well as some here in the neck.
Or I could start off painting some of the facial features
and then go for those other elements. I think that's what
I'm going to do.
So here I'm going to switch from a filbert to a round, which
comes to a point.
I have another one that's a little smaller.
Because the scale of this painting is not large.
This one comes to quite a fine point.
here we want to mix up our pigments.
I'm going to use a larger brush to mix with because it would
really damage the point on this if I scrubbed it into the paint.
Take some raw umber.
There are other ways to mix up darks, but I'll try this one.
And some ultramarine blue.
Still turning quite green because of the raw umber.
So let's try alizarin crimson, which is the complement of
And see what we get.
It's starting to go nice and dark. I'm going to wet the area
the eye socket.
If I don't do that, then when I put down these
description of her eye socket and the forms within it
it's going to look like it's just
cut out with scissors and put on top of her instead of
melting into the surrounding planes.
Just picking up a little the excess water, but still leaving
these shapes dark enough.
I'm going to add a little bit of crimson into that mix
and start to work around the mouth.
Here's where just your drawing skills
will make a difference.
Soften the edge at the wings of the lip
so it doesn't appear just cut out, pasted it onto her face.
I'm going to paint the lower lip, which
is considerably lighter.
Yes, this is rose madder and
I've got some cadmium yellow red - I'm sorry cadmium red
already laid down on the palette.
Just sometimes give it a test. If you have a little
clipping of the same illustration board you can
just use that to test your color.
And since we're not mixing with white, your color
is going to be raised in value by just increasing
the amount of water.
All right. She's got very dark amber brown eyes.
We're going to paint the irises now
and I think I'll start off with some raw sienna,
possibly a little touch of
All I'm leaving is a little dot
for the highlight in each iris.
And let's leave that for a moment to dry.
While we do that let's take a little bit of cerulean blue.
This we're going to use for the
whites of her eyes.
While it's wet, I just lighten it up with a dry
filbert round brush.
I'm going to take a little more of our
for emerald green
and let's try to get a good rich dark out of the two.
I don't really paint nostrils until I painted the planes in
which they rest and so that's why I worked around the under
plane here of the
The shadows on our head have a lot of reflected light. So
that's important to note right away, and I'm just going to
clean up my mixing area here first.
And I'm going to give the shadows a little bit of a cool
kind of a color cast.
I took some cerulean blue and then whatever was left on my
brush from the last
excursion on to the illustration board
we'll try to create the shape of the shadow.
All right, where her jaw and chin overlap the boa
I'm going to place a half tone.
I'm going to go back to my basic flesh tone mix which was
cadmium red light,
little bit of raw sienna,
and a touch
If I find other areas in the painting where this color works
then I'll just use it now, right, now don't wait.
Okay. Now one of the very
strongest characteristics of this image is the dark blond
And when I say dark, I mean dark. If you squint at the
you'll see. She may be blond or even a little bit of auburn but
in this lighting and with her hair, it comes across as a
pretty strong dark shape.
So I'll take some raw sienna, little bit of yellow ochre,
touch of magenta
with the areas that I'm going to work into
and I'll strive to get try to get that strong graphic dark.
We have the darks pretty much all over her
facial features, but nothing more really so let's
start establishing those.
Either take a little raw umber
just to darken it some more.
The color of the boa is very similar to the color of the
some of the shadows
on her hair.
So take advantage of that.
With this plane beneath her mouth
don't Loop it down in thisbig C curve. It'll look like a
pouch or something. That's really not very pleasant. Just
bring it across.
Horizontally like that
usually works best.
we're going to be focusing on getting the darks in her hair
and the boa and around the eyes. So let me start putting
in some of the darker aspects of the subject.
I can use a -
well, this is a number four
I still have a little paint left over from the last
It's dried up on the palette, but it doesn't matter.
I'll wet the eye socket a little bit.
I can take a
another soft brush
just with water on it
and I can blend out the edge
of the painted shape that I've just created.
You'll notice the watercolor dries a little bit lighter.
Than when you apply it.
So I'm taking a little bit of alizarin crimson. loser in crimson.
I'm just making some adjustments using the Q-tip.
I had the
wing of the lip extended a little too far to the left.
So with just some water and a cotton swab I can erase that.
And when that dries I'll come back in and repaint the area.
I'm adding a little bit more of a red or crimson
where the form shadow turns away from the light.
And we're gonna to find her jaw a little bit now.
It's kind of vague. So I want to
give it some more clarity.
Okay, let's get darks into the hair.
You see how when its moist the paint looks, so you want to
bear this in mind when painting.
I'm just taking a little bit of raw umber.
Mixing a little bit of crimson with it.
I'm going to turn the form of her head against the
by putting in a half tone in the silhouette the silhouette
right before the background.
So I test the consistency of the paint
and the amount of water that's in my mix
just by using the scratch sheet to the left.
I mixed up a color
similar to the one that I used on the side plane of her head
and will use it here on the side plane of the nose
where it falls into shadow.
Okay, let's mix up a color that contains a little bit of
violet to it. And that will be for the boa.
Simple little magenta and a little violet
into this mix.
And some this dark that I used around her eye sockets,
put some of that in it.
Let's give a little more complexion
to the head.
So I'm just going to wet the illustration board first.
Okay, so I just took some crimson
and I'm just laying down a wash
over the dark side of her head.
It will dry lighter, of course.
Let's mix up a really dark color using the crimson and
We'll put a little bit of violet into that.
Just pulling out a few crest lights
with the Q-tip.
Softening a few edges
let's get back to one of the motifs of this painting
and that would be
some of the delicate shapes in the hair.
When you're putting in little folds of hair, streaks of hair,
try not to be repetitive with them.
It will ring false if you do.
So try to vary the depth of a curve or the
width of a curve,
everything that will -
it will not look contrived.
Okay, so I'm gonna stop here with this particular subject
and we're going to move on to a
a two session pose with a male subject. So
try doing a
female and male subjects. The female is really tricky. You
don't want to overdo things. Whereas in the male case,
we can emphasize planes that even make the model look craggy and
you got to try both.
the painting. In other words there are some edges, there are some
some half tones and some transitions that need to be
worked on in order to take it to a finish. But at least we
got into how to frame the figure or the head using some
darks in the hair and in the boa that she's wearing. So you
want to have that full range of value
otherwise the painting is going to look thin. So that's what I
was mostly concentrating on today. And once again, the next
lessons are going to be a male subject with strong light and
shadow. One half of the head in shadow, one half in light, very
dramatic, whereas this was much much simpler lighting
condition. All right. Well, I hope you learned and keep
practicing, nd I expect to see you in the next lesson.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 30sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. A Graphite Drawing42m 27s
3. Assignment Instructions1m 10s
4. Putting Down the Base Tones19m 44s
5. Detailing the Facial Features21m 11s
6. Modeling the Head with Color25m 5s
7. Working on the Darks (Part 1)33m 27s
8. Working on the Darks (Part 2)14m 37s
9. Lesson Summary1m 11s