- Lesson details
In This Lesson:
Mark establishes the darkest darks in the hair and the eye sockets. Then he places reflected light into the shadow pattern and works on the halftones and the edges. With that, he carries the painting to completion.
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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In this lesson I'm going to go ahead and establish my darkest
darks primarily in the hair,
the eye sockets. And then I'm going to also
place reflected light into the shadow pattern and then paint
the remainder of the shadow pattern sufficiently dark so
that we can see the contrast between the light and the
shadow side of the head.
I'm going to also be careful with edges. So often times I'll
wet the surface of the illustration board just
with water and then when I apply the hair for instance,
I'll let it bleed out into that clear water, creating a softer
edge. If all the edges are uniformly hard or for that
matter uniformly soft it's going to be a monotonous
We're going to start working into the light pattern once
we've established our darkest darks and once we've gotten
our shadow pattern itself but we can't
really work into those halft one planes until we've done the
former. If you paint the half tones on a subject where
the darkest dark is not established, then it's very
likely you'll paint the half tones too light because
you're comparing it to forms that are not sufficiently dark.
So that's why it's imperative that we get that dark pattern
in there first and then we can proceed with half tones. Okay,
so that's the plan for today.
we got the base tones down and beginning to get a little bit
of the core shadow developed. Now I'm going to paint the
mustache, a bit of the beard, make an adjustment on one
of the eyes,
put in some half tones on the ear and the nose but most
importantly I'm going to get my darkest darks in here. And those
would fall within the hair and then after that within the eye
let's take our number 2 filbert brush
and start to
mix up a color for the mustache and hair.
The Payne's gray is useful. It gets us a nice deep dark just
to ground the color that I'm going to use for the hair and
It's not the final color of course
it helps provide the dark, the depth to everything else.
To that I'm going to add some alizarin crimson.
Naturally because we have ultramarine
mixed with black and then we're putting in crimson, this going to
lead a little bit towards violet.
So I'm going to take some
veridian, which is a very cool dark green,
and mix that together.
Let's put a little more Crimson in there.
That's quite greenish still.
Take a little bit of the
and warm it up a little bit.
Because raw umber
it's also got a lot of green to it as an earth tone but on -
it needed to be warmed up.
It's a little more crimson.
It's basically seasoning it to taste.
I think I'm going to go for some of the hair before
So let's wet the hair.
I'll go just a little beyond the edge too.
Last thing I want is a cutout plastic feeling
So see I just go a little bit beyond
the edges that I've already established.
Now let's go ahead
and paint in those dark,
darkest areas of the head.
You see if I don't put in my darkest darks
at this stage, then I can't judge
how dark or how light to make my half tones.
If I painted really subtle,
even sophisticated half tones on his head
and then I put in my darkest darks,
I would probably find that my half tones were too subtle. And
so we want to make sure.
that we can
gauge those half tones against our darkest darks.
I'm going to pause to reload. That means I have to mix up more of
We have a lot of area to cover in this subject so
it's going to require a bit of paint.
This time I'll put a little bit of magenta into the mix.
I don't really want it to be exactly the same color that I
It's not paint by numbers and there is a certain
in a big mass of hair or fabric that
allows for color changes. Not radical ones, sometimes even
that but generally what I'm just talking about
you'll still have some of the same colors we used before.
But I might introduce a little more of one, a little less of
When I put veridian back into this mixture, you'll see it
goes quite green, probably more than I want but not
You can see on my palette how green it's gotten, especially
now I'm putting in some raw sienna.
Having done that we're going to go back to some of the Payne's
It's gonna still look green, but it's a much darker shade.
Just testing that color
on my little scratch pad here.
And I'm kind of happy with it. So let's proceed.
So I just took a little eye dropper
and I'm wetting some of these smaller strands.
I've gone to a very fine brush. This is a 0 Langnickel
synthetic round or pointed brush.
I took a little bit of
raw sienna and mixed it into
what we have going already in the hair.
And so it's going to be lighter.
Which is exactly what would happen when we get thin strands
with light coming around and through them.
So if they were all really really dark that would ring
So the narrower the strand,
you probably would go lighter.
Let's get that mustache. First I'm going to wet that area
and then we're going to put in some of the
hair color that we've just been using.
Not very concerned right now with texture, but I am
interested in getting the shape, right?
And the average edges accurate, too.
Here's a Q-tip.
Help me control my shapes.
Dabs up a little excess water.
Let's wet the ear down a little bit and give it some more local,
very warm complexion.
I'm going to introduce a cool reflected light.
And for that I'm
probably going to work mostly with -
but not exclusively - with cerulean blue.
And let's see how that works.
I just used it straight out of the palette
as cerulean blue a very distinctive color.
Because I know that visually it's going to mix with some of
the flesh tone
in the shadow beneath it.
So I don't really need to
darken it or add any neutralizing color.
The very setup itself
will do that for me.
And I'm always looking for other places in the painting
where that particular color or value may apply.
Okay, let's leave that for a few minutes while it dries
I'm going to concentrate now a little bit on the eye socket
within the light side of the head.
So let's wet the region
around that eye socket with clear water.
So let's work a couple of the transition planes here along
A general rule of thumb is that
the head is a little bit more yellow in the
and a little bit more
in along the facial mass and a little grayer on the
on the jaw.
So we're going to use a good bit of yellow here
compared to elsewhere in this painting.
You know some of these planes that are right next to one
another, they're going to reflect light into each other
and therefore I'm going to let those areas really warm up this those areas really warm up
quite a bit. So I'm just dropping in some cadmium red
light, again, right off the palette into those areas.
I'm just going to go over the whole region
of the lower head and jaw.
And I'm using kind of a
so that it's got a little bit of gray quality to it.
And we also want to remember at all times
the top of the head is our lightest set of values and so
as we go down the head
we're free to
darken up the halftone planes.
I'm going to mix up a
much more red complexion
so we can start to describe the form along the facial mass.
Not as red as the ear for instance, but -
let's first wet the whole region.
So we can actually do this.
Let's mix up a little bit of yellow
color for the
for the forehead again.
So I wet the region. I'm going to start painting back into it
with a little bit of a
more greyed half tone.
Okay. Now we're going to go back and darken the hair some
I'm painting just up to the edge
of the last passage of this particular
So I want to be able to warm up the silhouette of his hair.
So once again wetting the surface.
shadows. We have a lot of contrasts in the reference
photo between the shadow and the light but so far we don't
have that contrast and now we're going to.
So what's our first step? You can probably all recall.
I'm going to wet
the area on which we're painting.
And let's test our color.
Good, nice and dark. Let's get going.
I'm gonna wet some of the areas around the edges of the
hair right now and we'll start to finish off the silhouette
and texture and color of the hair.
picking up some of these streamers of hair.
Doesn't matter that much what's going on inside the body
of the hair as it matters what's going on around its
So now we're going to work the transitions between the light
and the shadow. We're also going to darken up the
reflected light within the shadow.
So, let's see here.
With Q-tips we can get some certain effects.
Say that I want to lighten up that particular plane
or if I want to
perhaps get this plane with a softer edge.
But you have to be careful, see it kind of scratches gonna see it kind of scratches
the surface a little bit too.
So don't use that particularly unless you have to.
Now, let's wet the area
of the shadow once again.
I put that bluish reflected light in.
This kind of a setup. I can't leave it that light, but I
wanted to be able to keep it cool.
The reason I can't keep it that light is something I mentioned
in the lesson the last lesson.
We have to remember that nothing, even the reflected light in the
shadow, can be as light as the darkest half tone in the light.
So with that in mind I wet that and I'm going to have to mix up
I'll use a little raw sienna.
We're going to mix up a darker
reflected light area.
Also going to mix up once again a little bit of that
Maybe even put in a little bit of the ultramarine blue with
which will go darker.
And let's just test that a little bit.
let's put that down over the
previous areas of blue reflected light.
Okay, now we're going to work on the transitions from the
light into the form shadow.
So here at the cranium that would involve this area.
And then along the nose it would run down the bridge of
at the inside angle of the cheek.
along the brow structure.
along the jaw.
I'm going to go back now to our number four
Langnickel synthetic point round brush.
Okay, so it's a pretty low-key composition, meaning it's at
the bottom 50% of the value scale.
we're able to get away with a lot more halftone modeling then
we otherwise might.
And an example of how you can work
a male head with a lot of intricacy to it, a lot of
So I hope we've covered a lot of different issues and
different lighting and different head types. And
what you've got with the human head is an infinite amount of
opportunities to paint a different painting. Just like a
landscape is really -
every landscape is unique to itself, well in important
respects the same can be said for the human head.
I hope that you all continue to draw.
is not an option, it's part of the process and part of the process and
the success of your painting will depend largely on your
ability to draw.
And I don't just mean many or
especially issues like value. So if you can do studies in
charcoal or any other tonal medium, it will only be to your
You don't have to start off with a drawing. When I seesaythese
things I mean just
actually part of the painting process. So even if I
hadn't started with a graphite
I would be
certainly drawing with a brush.
Okay, great. Well,
attending these classes. I hope they've been of some fair use
but that certainly only be true if you
practice. Don't feel like every head has to be perfect
that you paint, it's just a matter of
successive heads becoming better and better until that
which never really does, but where you do a perfect one.
And they're perfect on - there are
countless ways of taking this subject and doing such a good
painting with it. There's no one solution. No one
approach. And there are going to be some watercolor painters who
I don't care for this a particular approach, I want to
achieve something else with my work.
And this is not the only approach to watercolor that one
can really find use and get effective results, but is one
and so with that I thank you again
we've gone ahead placed our darkest darks. I'll remind you how
that important that is. Put in some warm coloration around the
edges of the hair and certainly along the hairline and we
painted some of the local colors which are more red in
other words the ear and the nose.
And we'll also put in some accents pretty much just using
cadmium red light, maybe alizarin crimson sometimes, and
those are placed between forms that are directly next to each
other so that they're reflecting flesh tone into
flesh tone. And so they really heat up and we can pick up some
life to the color just by doing that.
Other areas like the jaw we painted with more of a gray
flesh-tone whereas the cranium
has a more yellowish cast. And I think I've talked a little bit
about the red areas which would be the nose, the ear, the cheek,
and of course working around the lips.
We were careful to try to create some
lighter, not as dark as the darkest darks, in the hair but
lighter streaks, lighter strokes.
to kind of design the hair and give it the texture
which is a little bit wild in places, which is great then
that's what we wanted to do. So
the point about this particular subject is it's a low keyed
composition, in other words the values are on the lower 50% of
the value scale and it's kind of a dramatic pose. He's
looking down at us as, his head is coming forward
very intense look and so I wanted to have that kind of
drama in the painting and throughout it I was thinking
of that. So the subject is very different from the female head.
That head, the half tons have to be kept to a minimum. Whereas
here with such craggy features, we can really go to town with
those half tones and create character in the subject. Always
think in your painting not just a literal accuracy.
That's doesn't really excite me, but think about that plus,
you know, an attitude something about sitter, something that you
want to say. It might not even be what sitter would want but
it's your painting and you can use it to your purposes.
I don't care if you're using oils or gouache or watercolor.
This applies across the board. So try to bring yourself into
whatever subject you're drawing or painting and as long as you
have that you'll have maintained your interest, it
will see you through the most challenging parts of any
particular painting and there always are. A
without that your art is a little bit self-limited. So
think about that, that's my last message to you from this
class. And if we're teaching a class in a different material,
pastel or acrylic, it probably would be my last
message to you there too. So good carry on and I know you'll
have really good luck. Thanks for being part of this class.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview1m 59sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Working on the Darkest Darks and the Halftones27m 23s
3. Working on the Reflected Light and the Halftones28m 34s
4. Working on the Contrast and Transitions Between the Light and the Shadow35m 41s
5. Lesson Summary3m 49s