Paint a Portrait-Adding Details & Finishing the Portrait

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 34,010
    Artist Alexander Shundi shows how to add final details to complete your portrait.

    Alexander Shundi: Hi, I am Alex Shundi and this is how to paint a portrait. In this clip, I am going to be showing you how to put the last finishing touches to your portrait. What I am going to do now is I am going to start painting using only paint and oil, no more turpentine and start to put in individual little spots of color here and there as I see them. I have to exaggerate the dark and the light to a point where the eye that looks at it will believe that this is something that is real and actual and that it is some luminescent on one side and therefore darker on the other.

    Whenever you use a hard edge, the hard edge makes it look like something has an actual angle. An absolute border, but flesh doesnt really have absolute borders. There is a kind of a smooth continuum of flesh and so I want to try to get that in order to get the softness of a human being. I start thinking in terms of what the eyes are going to do. Now we tend to think of the white of the eyes being pure white. Actually, there is no pure white there. If I hold up a white piece of paper next to our eye nothing in our eye is going to be as white as that piece of paper. So what color is the white of our eye? I see it as being a beigey(ph) bone tone. If I get rid of that white it's going to make her a lot calmer and it's going to make the center of the eye a lot more relaxed.

    Eyes are the window of the soul. They are extremely important. So its crucial that that both eyes look in the same direction and there is a little trick involved in doing this. Its very simple thing. If I close one eye and look at the model and then I cover one eye of the portrait and I cover one eye of the model and I look to see if both eyes are having the same shape and if they are looking in the same direction. I switch and check the other eye out and make sure that the other eye is looking in the same direction too and inevitably, if one is a little bit wrong, it means that the space of the white on each side of the pupil is a little bit off. In other words, theoretically, if I look this way lets say, there is very little white on this side but there is a lot of white on this side. So there is a balance of white.

    When you paint the mouth, try to remember the most important thing about a mouth is not so much the shape of the lips, but its the length, the line and what the line does in the actual opening of the mouth. So if you do it with a hard edge, you are doing a disservice to the softness of the mouth. Sometimes when you paint and you want to do a little detail, its interesting to make your arm stop shaking. In order to do so, you can take your finger and rest it and then just move your fingers now that your whole hand is at rest on this finger, rather than having to shake because of the stress.

    Try to pick up enough paint with your brush so that you can push it around and create the image that you want. A common mistake is to be afraid of what the paint will do, to be afraid of making mud and therefore, a lot of people tend to just pick up, they are very cautious about it. They tend to pick up very, very, very little paint and try to stretch it out. What happens there is that the painting almost inevitably looks unfinished. A little thing, its important no matter what color hair it is its important to put a little bit of the color of the flesh in the reflections of the hair to unify it to the rest of the portrait so that it looks like it comes out of the same person and it is not a wig or something that has been pasted on.

    At this point, I have been so involved in making details that I run the risk of losing the big picture. Sometimes, in a portrait you lose a sense of what some big mistakes could be, just because you are so involved with the specifics of the little things. So, its good to step away from it. Look at it almost as if you are seeing it for the first time; almost as if somebody else has painted it. Its difficult to do but its important to do. As I look at this color and I see that its so light, I am going to with the same sensitivity, see where else in the face, in her face do I find the exact same color and then see if I can put it in. So if I see that there is a little bit of it in here, so I am going to put it in. There is a tiny bit of it in here. There is just a slight, slight, slight reflection on the bottom of the nose because she has a little pivot in there and then finally add little bit more in the eye and hair doing this. I think it looks like her. I am Alexander Shundi. This is how to paint a portrait. Thank you.