Self Portrait Process Work

1 - After transferring my final sketch to a stretched 140lb watercolor paper, I start with a light wash of what will be the lightest tones on my face, usually a light Yellow Ocher. For a basic skin tone, I used a mixture of Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ocher and either Cadmium Red or Perylene Maroon, depending on the tonality of the model. You can also see some blues and greens, setting up the reflected light and the undertone for the 5 o'clock shadow. Let it dry completely.

2- Step two, develop further the same concept of step one; Aways keep in mind the light source, reflected light and think of what is underneath the part of the face you are painting - cheeks are usually fleshy and warmer in color. Same with extremities, such as ears and nose, having more blood. Once you have reached a good overall mid tone on the figure, lay down a layer of background color - that will give you a good idea of how much darker do you need to go with the foreground. Let it dry.

3 - Start detailing the smaller and more important parts of the figure, such as eyes, eyebrows, nose and ears. Remember that the white part of your eye ball is NOT really white!! Work the background to the point where it is coherent with the figure

4 - I usually wait and finish the hair in the very last step, especially if it is the darkest thing in the painting. Before that, add any additional washes of skin tones, evening out reflected light, and darkening any mid tones that got lightened up by darkening the background. Add the shadows on forehead under the hair and on neck under jaw line. Last but not least, using white acrylic or gesso, hit some highlights on the eyes. Done!

Remember that there are so many different skin tones and so many other colors and lights are reflected from it. Don't fall for the Yellow + Red + Blue = skin tone mixture!!

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