HOW TO PAINT A REALISTIC WOMAN’S FACE & HAIR ✦ Oil Painting Portrait Demo –  Narrated Tutorial

HOW TO PAINT A REALISTIC WOMAN’S FACE & HAIR ✦ Oil Painting Portrait Demo – Narrated Tutorial


Welcome to my YouTube channel. I am Isabelle Richard. In this video, I will give you some tips & tricks to paint a very realistic and natural woman’s portrait. Watch to the end to discover how I easily created this detailed lace texture. You can find the link to the color mixing video in the video description. Let’s get started… This was an alupanel, cleaned using isopropyl alcohol and primed with 4 coats of gesso spray. I applied a thin coat of a mixture of Vandyke Brown and Yellow Ochre to create a dark background. The surface was very smooth. I waited until the paint was dry to touch. I used a graphite pencil to draw the main lines of the portrait to be painted. Using a medium filbert brush, I started to apply the paint by color zones. I was careful not to mix them together. This is a colored “UNDERPAINTING”. Then, I will add several layers of glaze, more and more precise and defined. Over time, I noticed that multiple thin layers create a three-dimensional effect, richness and depth of color that I did not achieve otherwise with oil. Probably because the light reflects better on pigments aligned and layered this way. It’s hard to see on the video, but when you have the finished painting in front of you, it’s a nice effect. I used a small mop to blend the colors well for a more natural effect. I was very careful not to lose the nuances I have just applied. It’s the time to check if your brush is losing hair. If this is the case, you must use another one. I made some adjustments by working wet-on-wet. I took care to fill all the holes and to soften all the color junctions and outlines. My goal was to make the painting ready for the next step. This was the “UGLY” stage. I used a clean brush to join the different colors. Then I started the hair. I never use black for shadows in blond hair. This makes it greyish or greenish. I prefer to use Vandyke Brown and Alizarin Crimson instead. I immediately gave a first coat in the background. It allowed me to properly merge the hair with the background. Once the paint dried to touch, I drew the lace in detail using a graphite pencil. Then I applied pure Titanium White for the first coat. Yes, several steps will be necessary for lace too… The painting was dry to touch. Then I worked wet-on-dry. I added a drop of linseed oil to the colors on the palette to comply with the “FAT OVER LEAN” rule. It will prevent the paint from cracking as it dries. I applied dark colors first, to avoid contaminating them with light colors. Gradually, I accentuated the main lines. I find the darker parts of the hair easier to detect so I started there. I used multiple layers of paint to achieve the desired color density, especially for the red. I used over-saturated colors. I will be able to adjust them in the following steps. I used a smooth brush to blend the colors well for a more natural effect. I was very careful not to lose the nuances I have just applied. I was not satisfied with the thickness of the paint at this stage. So I decided to add a thicker layer. Remember that the next layers will be thinner and thinner. In fact, the glazing layers will contain more and more oil. It was my last chance to get a nice opacity so I did. I used colors a little lighter than the desired final effect. The oil paint will become a little darker as it dries because the previous colors will show through. See how over-saturated colors are neutralized at this step. Pay attention to the subtlety and complexity of the transition from head to neck. Fortunately, I was able to use a Q-tips or a clean dry brush to wipe away wet paint that could have been applied somewhere by mistake. Again, the paint was dry to touch. I added one more drop of linseed oil to the colors on the palette to comply with the “FAT OVER LEAN” rule. This step allowed me to add an extra layer of color to the brighter parts like lips. I also took this opportunity to accentuate the shadows and lights. I worked in transparency. The layers of skin are also transparent in a certain way… I tried not to paint eyelashes and eyebrows too defined. Otherwise, they would have looked like they’re not part of the painting. Also pay particular attention to the curvature of the lashes. Don’t make the eyes white too white. To be continued… I applied the colors as I would with makeup. The teeth are in the shadow, in the mouth. They are not flat and perfectly rectangular like “Chiclets”. They are pearly and reflect the inside of the lip (a little red). For the hair, I used a medium flat angled brush, I started to apply the paint by color zones. Hair is becoming more and more defined. Too defined… “SFUMATO”? It is a painting technique for softening the transition between colors, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane. (Wikipedia) That means that everything must be slightly blurry to look realistic. That’s why I used a clean, dry brush to integrate all the colors into the hair. Some highlights here and there before letting the paint dry for the next step. The paint was dried to touch (again). I applied a thin layer of linseed oil to the entire paint. I wiped off the excess with a clean paper towel. The colors were now saturated The painting seemed varnished. So I was able to make the necessary adjustments. From now on, that was m…. From now on, it was mostly fine tuning. And once again… I always forget the ears! I like to finish my paintings upside down. This allows me to better see the imperfections to easily correct them. Now, my trick for lace texture: I worked in areas so I protected the one I didn’t want to get dirty. I found a regular cheesecloth. I mixed a little Titanium White with linseed oil and soiled the fabric using a brush. I was careful not to distort the fabric. Then I gently placed the fabric over the dried painting. I put a sheet of paper on top of it and I rubbed it without moving anything. And… There you go! I put another clean sheet directly on the paint and rubbed it to absorb the excess of Titanium White (Tonking). Once the paint dried, I applied a thin layer of linseed oil to perfectly integrate the whole thing. You must repeat the same process at the other areas, respecting the ANGLE of the fabric for a perfect lace effect. I hope you enjoyed this video. If so, give it a little thumbs up 😉 You can also leave me your comments below… And don’t forget to subscribe for more art videos! Thanks for watching!

39 thoughts on “HOW TO PAINT A REALISTIC WOMAN’S FACE & HAIR ✦ Oil Painting Portrait Demo – Narrated Tutorial

  1. Never failed to leave me in awe and emotional. N my high-school, these are the paintings that I would spend minutes staring; oil paintings. Now I have a chance to learn to draw them from you . U are very inspiring

  2. Greetings Isabel
    Many, many congratulations on the new format, as it succeeds beautifully.
    This was so interesting to watch on so many levels; it's no wonder that your creations take several weeks before reaching fruition.
    Thank you for sharing your excellent technique with us although it still misses out on the vital ingredient of just how you manage to capture the magic of making your work come alive.
    You instinctively know where to place some yellow or red etc. in just the right places, even though it initially appears odd; but you always succeed and avoid a jaundiced look somehow.
    That to me is the 'masterly' aspect of your skill level.
    Have you ever had problems with reaching a completion point, the temptation of trying to correct an asymmetrical face and painting something which just isn't there so to speak?
    I must say that it's interesting to see you invert the painting to get a different perspective although, as you painted the eyes, I felt that it would have worked against me, on a personal level, rather than act as an aid; it made it seem like a different painting somehow.
    Is this a tip that you developed yourself or a legacy from your training years?
    Anyway Isabel, thank you so much and congratulations once again on the new format and your time in creating it!
    Best wishes
    Nick Harvey

  3. very nice.
    i like the way you render all the color and blend then together . the last trick was awesome .
    thank you very much for sharing this with us .

  4. Fantastic.Narrated your tutorial this much better.
    How do you prepare your screens?
    The background finish looks perfect

  5. Merci Isabelle de partager ta technique et de nous permettre d’assister à la réalisation de tes œuvres. C’est fascinant d’assister à la création de visages aussi réalistes.

  6. Excellent as always. Using a high contrast subject is quiet bold for teaching a lesson. Also, I think the lace steals the show and would have made the lesson in itself. 🙂

  7. How did you learn how to oil paint? I am thinking about registering for studio art at the local college. Did you get an art degree?

  8. Waaawww!! Niiiiceeee! Love the painting process and the voice over narration! Nice trick on lace! I've done the same with tulle :))) loooove your videos!!

  9. I love your trick for the lace what a great idea.
    Your right it’s like magic watching your painting come to life. Thanks!

  10. Speechless!!! Getting more and more attracted towards your skills!!! Now onwards you will be mine "GURU" and I'll love to follow the path of "Eklavye".

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