Tutorial - prominent Highlights while painting a face

by Roman aka jar

posted by roman, jarhead, kong


as mentioned before I start a little article sum up now.

The first one is about painting a face on a bust. I don't want to talk about a colour reciepe, techniques or the perfect way to do it as I did not plan the article on this subject. This is more about where to place your highlights in your skin tone while working on a face. Apologies for a not perfect article - I somehow got lost in the bust and it ain't finished yet while I write this article.

I did prime the face black and white like described in this article:

My first go with some skin colour was from a pretty used wet palette ...

... which is often the reason for being not able to explain properly what I was painting. I was mixing my skin colour from the colours I had there and so it happened that a little gentle touch of green appears in the skin. But sometimes I like to paint that way ... and I just can't help myself to a cleaner way of doing it. My intention while bringing up my basic tone was to get every area opaque and this means I had to bring on the colour in about 3 steps to hide the priming. This basic tone is pretty bright as you can see.

Next I have used some Oil colours to gently get in my first shadows and light. Both at the moment only sketches.

After baking the Oil colour again (see linked article above for more information about it) I started to sketch more and more with the shadow areas to get them darker. Also painted the beard, not sure what colour he might get in the end but I wanted to have this natural frame around the main facial area - same to the hair. Just sketching ...

On the next photo we slowly reach the point of this article. Prominent highlight spots in a face. For sure this always depends on your light painting. If you paint zenithal lightning or use another light direction, for example lower front left you will place your shadows where needed to simulate your light situation. I am painting a pretty casual zenithal light with a gentle angle to the front of the bust.

Now to check where the first hightlight sketching went I made a little black and white photo to explain this for your eyes.

I guess way easier to understand but not really beautiful:


This first sketch helps me organise my further work. Now is the time for Apologies again I told you I just stopped making photos as I did paint on the bust over several weeks for only moments.

In the end I just followed to flow of intensing contrast in the skin, working out details and cleaning the areas. I still got a lot ahead for the cleaning point but it grows and he will get a guitar instead of the rifle. He ain't a soldier, he is just a tramp ... and still mucho work in progresso!

As you can see the shadow areas are more intensed now. Lights are also slowly dropping in to become detail work - like a sharp stronger light on a bright area - it becomes working in smaller areas. As you can see there are still some ugly spots but nothing future won't heal ...

These are just my thoughts on prominet highlight spots in a face. I often do paint those also in smaller scales as they bring out a face properly.I hope you can get which spots I mean even I did not explain it in words. Use your eyes and always remember in the end you can paint your faces like you want to!

Keep on happy painting!
Best Wishes


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