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Portrait Painting Basics


Graphics Tablet recommended.
Hard Round Airbrush is a default brush found in any Photoshop program.


I know many of you probably find this very familiar! It is a remake of an older tutorial I have laying around here somewhere, and was intended as a test for my new tutorial layout design. I am making a brand new "Portrait Painting Basics" tutorial, but thought I'd share this one too, as I think it turned out looking pretty spiffy :)

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Tutorial - LENS FLARES by Sheridan-JTutorial - Soft Airbrush Usage by Sheridan-J
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© 2013 - 2021 Sheridan-J
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Grauber's avatar
what about it?
I mean what is your original work in this?

It may look awesome but that was the photo not you :/
Wszechocean's avatar
well, he changed model's clothes ;)

Norman Rockwell took photos and was changing some things too as he was drawing from phothographs…
Winrry's avatar
I don't want to sound offensive, but I think grid is kind of a cheating. Using a grid you never learn any actual proportions and it doesn't give you a skill. I do agree that your colouring skills are amazing and I'm actually pretty sure that you can draw too, however, for learning purposes and seeking to be a professional I wouldn't recommend a grid technique. After all people want a drawing and what's the point of such an accurate copy if it's the same as a photo.
Wszechocean's avatar
Are you saying that Leonardo da Vinci or Mucha weren't great artists but cheaters? (Mucha
s grid… ). Also, superb artists like Norman Rockwell were drawing/painting from the photos:… , so why can't others?
Winrry's avatar
Whoa, well that's an old comment of mine xD Anyways...

I never said drawing from a photo is wrong :) The second link you gave me is an amazing interpretation of a photograph and I can clearly see how artist did his job. You can see that it's done without grid, because the bodies, spaces between people and things aren't accurate. They're very similar, but they're not THE SAME. So I actually encourage art like that, references are A MUST, but it's HOW you use them.

Actually both examples you showed me are nice. Because both of them are used as references. But when someone just takes a photo, puts a grid on it and redraws it on other grid, well, I just think anyone can do that. It's just copying a line in a square. Artist should see the whole. Artist should know anatomy, how body, face works, what are the human proportions and use reference only for catching unique movement or characteristics. It should inspire him, not make him copy an exact line, seeing it only as a line, but not as an important part of something.

You say "why can't others?" Well of course they can, I don't forbid them :D I just state my opinion how I don't consider it as an actual original artwork.
Wszechocean's avatar
I see :) I'm kinda irritated to see people shouting that using grid is cheating. For me drawing is putting down (on paper f.e.) the thing you SEE - no matter if it's right before of your eyes or just in your head. Using grids, few helpful lines, etc. is just to make it easier to get be more accurate. Every great painter used helpful little "tricks" to make it more simple for himself/herself (like making a lot of sketches or photos of one object/person, putting some lines - like "the envelope method", and son on). Using the grid, or starting the sketch with contur drawing, doesn't mean the artist don't know anatomy, etc. I think using photos is SOOOO helpful for few reasons, like that you can have a composition done already and the models are always still - that is why Rockwell made those photos, I suppose.

Also, I think that copying is a great art itself - it's really a great feeling when you admire someone's masterpiece and seeing that you're able to "recreate" that wonderful thing that inspires you.……

Also, while making a copy, you can add A LOT from yourself, thus making your own art, your own version of something known and wonderful. 

Here's my version of Coubert's autoportrait:… :3

Ofcourse, the better copy, the more skill. If artists wants to make a difference, let him have it, if he want to make his art EXACTLY THE SAME as what he sees (I don't care if it's in his head, before him, on the street, table, etc., or on the photo), let him have him :) That's my opinion.

Malcom Morley, winner of the Turner Price, was using grid to copy things that he saw in brochures and such, so?…

I really don't see nothing wrong in that. As  viewer, I preffer other kind of painting (baroque is one of my fav era in art), but I believe that it was very relaxing and in the same time creative experience for Morley. There's really something calming in routine and step-by-step method.

Personally, instead of grid I recommend using two straight lines crossing themselves in the center of the pic - it's not a grid that way, but the lines will divide the pic in 4 parts, so that there won't be high accuracy (like in panels of grid), but it would give the eye some important point of orientation.

I know that I want to learn to create my own pieces of art, using references like Rockwell, but with giving the piece my own view (and thus changing things). But I also find it temptating to try and copy some old masterpieces in the future. Even if only for drawing practice - and that's a great exercise (here's a sketch of great painter Wyspiański copying Michealangelo for practice… )

Cheers :)

Sorry for my poor english ^^;

Winrry's avatar
I totally agree with the part where you say about two lines dividing page into four pieces - I agree that it's only helping lines and it only helps to get things more accurate. But I think when grid is too detailed it just blocks thinking and you can't help, but to look at different squares as different details and not connect them to a whole.

And your english is not poor :D I understood what you meant and I respect your opinion, which is well reasoned :) Recreating other's people's art is great for learning purposes as long as it's not done blindly but with thinking and trying to understand why and what you are doing :) Good luck in your future art creating!
Wszechocean's avatar
Thank you :D

You know, I think that in the previous era copying  or just trying to be as accurate as possible was a part of overcoming problems. Like - "I have no idea why this position of arm looks so weird, I'll check how that painter dealt with lines in similiar pose". Nowadays people are just trying to do the same thing, without checking how to deal with the problem itself (and maybe find a better outcome).

I agree that too detailed grid is... well, it's not good really, it's too "stiff copying". HOWEVER I would recommend using grid at the very beginning. Just to jump on deep water, see that you actually can draw something (and fighting the fear of beginner overwhelemed with drawing theories) and THEN removing the grid in your next exercises, trying to draw more and more just from the view, without many or even with zero lines :)
AnErraticBoulder's avatar
Wow, thank you, this is so helpful! I'm going to have to try some of this in Gimp...
CindysArt's avatar
Thank you so much for share! :glomp:
AEmiliusLives's avatar
Loving these tuts :D:thumbsup:
Radiant-Grey's avatar
thanks for the insight! I know you must have been asked this, and I think it's wiz-bang wonderful that you can recreate the photo from reference via the grid system....but why not directly draw your line art layer on top of the reference material? If you've answered this before on DA, don't worry, I'll probably find it soon myself :) Thanks again~
Sheridan-J's avatar
I suppose using the grid is still training your eye to match up proportions, but I also consider it somewhat of a warm up exercise before I get into the coloring detailing too! :)
Radiant-Grey's avatar
^_^ Awesome! thanks again~
LuisPuig's avatar
Very cool. Nice work you did on these.
Maffoo's avatar
TehAngelsCry's avatar
Hi here! :wave:

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xXidrawXx's avatar
Great work! (But, I have to admit, I keep thinking he's going to pick his nose.)
Thank you so much this is a better explanation of your tutorial it helps a lot for newbie like myself appreciate your generosity!
Deklayn's avatar
Amazing! I too am a fan of the grid technique :P I will so be trying to practice this on Photoshop.
Aerorwen's avatar
I can do portraits with a pencil... Painting is a work in progress. XD
DoriDoriSushi's avatar
This is great. Thank you for sharing :) It'll help a lot
duzetdaram's avatar
amazing, I am learning a lot with your tutorials. Thanks so so much for sharing your knowledge with us and giving us the opportunity to improve in our works.
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