Portrait Process

I recently finished this portrait of some beautiful young people:Kids

I thought it would be interesting to show the progress from the beginning, so I made this animated gif. (Which is my first brush with anything of the sort, so forgive the imperfection.)




I started by blocking in their shapes in olive green. Then I drew rough outlines with chalk and refined their positions, after which I blocked in the initial colors.


I began to pick out the darkest shadows with purple and blue, then activated the background with some transparent layers and strokes. I knew I’d eventually be adding two abstract elements that had symbolism for the recipient.


I focused first on the young girl, whose small features and mischievous expression I knew would be a challenge to capture both accurately and expressively; then I refined the boys’ faces.

Kids7 Kids8


I like to take liberties with my portraits. It is more important to me that they look like their human subjects than any specific photograph used as a reference (I work from several when possible). But at this stage I felt that the facial proportions of the brother in the middle were off, and so I made some adjustments, first in chalk:Kids10

Then in paint. After making the final adjustments, I was happy to call this portrait complete.



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