Draw and paint a fe­male face

Charlie Bowa­ter shows you how to ren­der a beau­ti­ful fe­male face with sub­tle oth­er­worldly fea­tures

ImagineFX - - Workshops -

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved paint­ing faces. No mat­ter what kind of character it is, I al­ways find my­self drawn first to the face. I find the many shapes, fea­tures and ex­pres­sions end­lessly fas­ci­nat­ing, so nat­u­rally I’m very happy to of­fer you a work­shop on paint­ing them!

I’ll be talk­ing you through the var­i­ous steps of paint­ing a beau­ti­ful fe­male por­trait, and then look in some depth at how to give my character cer­tain fea­tures that make her ap­pear slightly alien or oth­er­worldly. Noth­ing too dras­tic – just sub­tle dif­fer­ences that hint at this idea. She won’t re­sem­ble an ex­tra from Jabba the Hutt’s palace, that’s for sure!

I’ll be ex­plain­ing my steps from start to fin­ish, in­clud­ing rough sketches through to the ini­tial washes of colour, not to men­tion paint­ing skin, tex­tures, colour choices and adding the fi­nal de­tails.

You can ap­proach this work­shop at any level re­ally, and you can go as de­tailed as you like. I think my own style sits some­where be­tween stylised and re­al­is­tic: I love us­ing tex­tures on stylised char­ac­ters. It’s not my in­ten­tion to make the character look too re­al­is­tic, it’s just to end up with a nice-look­ing por­trait!

1 A ba­sic sketch

To get started, I sketch out a few rough ideas all cen­tring on the theme of a beau­ti­ful, slightly oth­er­worldly fe­male por­trait. I’m keep­ing things sim­ple and just us­ing a few val­ues (mid-to-light greys) and some slightly darker grey line work to sketch in the ba­sic fea­tures. I’m not too con­cerned with any se­ri­ous de­tail at this point; I’m more in­ter­ested in get­ting down her pose, fa­cial fea­tures and ex­pres­sion.

2 A wash of colour

Now that I have a fin­ished sketch that’s ready to go to colour, I want to lay down a hint of colour with­out adding any de­tail (and to see if it looks good). The best way to do this is to add a wash of colour us­ing Over­lay. So, on a new layer (set to Over­lay) above the sketch, I take a large brush and lay down some ini­tial base colours. I avoid be­ing too in­tri­cate, and just think of th­ese as the start­ing point for the colour.

3 Keep in mind the character’s ori­gins

With the sketch and colour pal­ette cho­sen, it’s time to start ac­tu­ally ren­der­ing the por­trait. My main fo­cus when orig­i­nally sketch­ing the character was on her pose and fea­tures, but one very im­por­tant as­pect to the character is that she should be oth­er­worldly, almost alien but in a very sub­tle way. That’s some­thing I’ll be keep­ing at the fore­front of my mind as I move for­ward with the colour process.

4 Or­der of lay­ers

As I be­gin ren­der­ing the character I tend to add a new layer when I start paint­ing a new sec­tion. Gen­er­ally, I’ll add a cou­ple of lay­ers. Then, once I’m happy with that sec­tion of work, I’ll flat­ten ev­ery­thing to­gether. I re­peat this process through­out the paint­ing. I try not to have too many lay­ers go­ing on at once, but you can have as many as you’re com­fort­able us­ing.

5 Ren­der­ing and brush types

The main fo­cus of this paint­ing is the character’s face. Be­cause it’s a close up, you’re go­ing to see a fair bit of de­tail. For the majority of the paint­ing I’m us­ing a chalky, slightly tex­tured brush. I love paint­ing skin but try to avoid us­ing air­brushes if I can. If overused, they give the skin a plas­tic ap­pear­ance, whereas a slightly tex­tured brush gives a much more nat­u­ral look.

6 Bring­ing out the form

With a chalky brush, my main fo­cus here is to bring out the form of the face. So far it’s mostly been line work and a wash of colour, but now I want to fo­cus on struc­ture and shape. Us­ing darker and warmer (slightly more red or orange) tones, I paint in some sub­tle shad­ows un­der her nose, in her eye sock­ets, un­der her chin and so on, to start em­pha­sis­ing the form.

7 Im­por­tance of colour choices

One tip for paint­ing skin is to think about colour choices. A base tone is your start­ing point. When build­ing up the colour by adding shad­ows and high­lights, re­mem­ber to change the tone as well. Avoid choos­ing a shade of the colour you started with – change the colour also. Sub­tle pink/orange in warmer ar­eas and a bit of blue/pur­ple in the shad­ows makes a big dif­fer­ence.

8 A lit­tle eye def­i­ni­tion

The face is the first part of a character that I’m drawn to – the eyes in par­tic­u­lar. I want to start adding some de­tail to them to give the paint­ing some fo­cus. I’m us­ing a warm plum-pur­ple colour to add some deeper shad­ows to the sock­ets of the eyes and di­rectly un­der­neath them. I’m vary­ing be­tween reg­u­lar lay­ers and a bit of Over­lay to give some depth to the shad­ows.

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