Step-by-Step: Painting Famous Portraits

Step 1: Using a stencil knife, start to cut out the dark areas of the face. These are the eyes, nostrils, corners of the lips…ect…
These are going to be a guide for your freehand Airbrushing. This is a very important step as this will define the features that make each of us humans so unique.
Step 2: Here I am using weights, rocks and coins to hold the stencil down before Airbrushing. I never like to use Frisket or spray adhesives on any of my artwork as they have destroyed artwork in the past.
Step 3: With a transparent black, I paint the features I’ve cut out. Careful to not overspray or underspray the stencils and make sure the paint goes on clean.
Here you can see the detail and the mapping of the eyes, ect. This gives you exact placements for you to start building up your freehand shading.
Step 4: Here comes the fun part! Take your time and watch the layering of strokes build up the structures of the cheek bones, chin, nose and forehead. I am using a transparent black Airbrush paint with a few drops of water added to make the paint layers very subtle.
Step 5: With a little darker mix of transparent black, begin to further detail the shadows in the face. This is the more tedious step but, the most important. Again, take your time and enjoy the process.
Step 5: Now I can start to layer on the skin tones over the black shading. This is a technique that the old world Masters call “Under Painting”. This is the layering of color washes over grey shading, giving the appearance of depth and beauty. Here I start with a transparent orange “wash” then transparent red. Note, that by avoiding the highlights in the skin, I can build up the light source for my portrait.
Step 6: Now that the face is almost complete, I can focus on the background. I do this very losely and I leave it a little blurry, giving the appearance of depth.
Step 7:  Now it’s time to Airbrush in some more white to soften up the hard white highlights in the Light Saber and the face.  Also, at this point, I can layer in the blue glow on the right side of the face. This is a very fun part I love about painting portraits, as the painting really starts to shine bright in this step.
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It is time to remove the masking tape and reveal the piece! I’m happy with the outcome and I’ll call this finished!

Artists’ Tool Box:

Master Airbrush:  MAS G25

Air Compressor: ABD TC-20T

Airbrush Paint:  USA AB-KIT-S24


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