Portraits in Pastel from photos


I’m starting this drawing with a dark pastel pencil, with a tonal study, but this is actually the basis of my colour drawing.  People often struggle with getting the proportions right when they are working from a photo, but there is nothing wrong with making a tracing of the features to save time and heartache! You can’t trace the tones, however, so that’s when the fun starts.


The next stage is to draw the highlights with a white pastel, and start to deepen the darkest tones.


Now I’m adding the in between warm tones, using a reddish brown and a warm ochre pastel.


I’ve now added a dark blue to the darkest areas on the face and black to the hair. The same blue is used in her clothing. Note that I am not blending any of the strokes on the face: it’s important for me to be able to define the shadows and planes of her face, while the fabric is blended to give the impression of a silky texture.


I’ve now added more of the same colours with smaller strokes, covering the grey paper on her face and roughly brushing in the background with yellow on the left side to indicate where the light is coming from. Notice the reflected light on her left cheek.


Adding warmer tones and paying attention to the expression in the eyes was all that was needed to bring this to a conclusion. As is always the case with drawing from a photo, I’m not 100% certain that I know everything about the facial structure: it’s hard to see detail in the shadows. But it’s convincing enough without being ‘photorealist’.



One thought on “Portraits in Pastel from photos

  1. Pingback: Portraits in Pastel from photos | Mi Mi Designs

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