Dark-Skinned Brunette Girl
The most challenging aspects of this painting are creating the pattern of the shirt and the texture of the hair. The fabric isn’t hard; it’s just time-consuming. And the hair is difficult because you have to create the braids by using darks next to lights and making soft edges where the hair meets the face and on the ends of some braids.
– Paper: 1/2-sheet 300-lb. (640gsm) hot press
– Brushes: Nos. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 14 rounds
– Paints: Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Turquoise Light, French Ultramarine, New Gamboge, Opera Rose, Scarlet Lake, Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Yellow
1. The Sketch
Begin the drawing with the face. Draw the eyes first and then the nose and mouth. Work your way downward and outward, drawing in all the shapes, darks and lights found in the subject’s face and neck. Then draw the hair. For the shirt, draw all the square checks first and then connect them with horizontal and vertical lines. Add a few vague shapes in the background.
2. Paint the Background
Using a no. 14 round, mix a light wash of French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber and Alizarin Crimson on your palette and paint the background. Don’t be afraid to change the temperature in the background, varying the color between brownish (more Burnt Umber in the mixture), bluish (more French Ultramarine) and reddish (more Alizarin Crimson). This will make the background more interesting than a boring, solid wash. Add a little green made with Winsor Blue (Green Shade) and Winsor Yellow under the hands in the background.
3. Apply the First Wash of Flesh Tone
Using a no. 10 round, begin layering New Gamboge with Scarlet Lake on top of it, wet-into-wet, to the face. Don’t paint the highlight areas. Paint around them with the flesh tone. After layering the flesh tone, add some Cobalt Blue to the saved highlight areas. Using the same flesh colors, paint the arms and hands with a no. 10 round. Keep in mind the highlights are on the front of the face and in the center of the arms and hands.
4. Strengthen the Flesh Tones
Use a no. 4 round for everything except the side of the face, neck and forehead. Use a no. 10 round for those because they are larger. Begin adding stronger flesh tones by layering New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake, but this time add some Opera Rose mixed in with the Scarlet Lake. Place these colors around the highlight in the flare of the nostril, in the area between the eye and nose, above the mouth and on the bottom lip, on the side of the face and neck, and around the highlight on the forehead. This may take several applications to get the desired value.
5. Start the Lips, Hair & Nose
Lips | Using a no. 4 round, paint the lips with the flesh tone (New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake). Use this same color to paint the warm sections found in the hair with a no. 10 round.
Hair | Using a no. 8 round, wet the hairline where it meets the forehead and use a combination of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber for the hair against the forehead. Paint the hair around the hairline by tapping just the tip of your brush where the pattern of the hair is dark; then soften with water in the same way.
Nose | Make a stronger mixture of New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake to repaint the nostril to prepare it for the dark purple to come later. Use very little water, and drag the paint back and around the flare of the nostril and then soften. Add that same mixture to the upper lip as well. Do this using a no. 4 round.
6. Continue with the Flesh Tones
Use a no. 2 round for this step. Paint the lid creases, irises and lower outer edge of the corner of the eye with New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake. Always layer the flesh tones wet-into-wet, applying the yellow first. Use these same colors to paint the area directly under the nose, the area between the eye and nose, and the chin, cheeks, forehead, hairline, neck, ear folds and crevices. Your subject should start looking pretty orange now.
7. Add Hands, Arms & Darks
Hands | With a no. 6 round, add the flesh mixture into the areas of the hands that are darker such as the creases and on the hands up to the highlight areas. Save the highlights on the knuckles of the hands.
Arms | Notice that the arms are visibly separate. Originally, when I drew it out, I thought there was just one arm. After close examination, I discovered there were two, so I drew a line to separate them.
Darks | Using a no. 6 round, start applying the darks to the face with a mixture of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson blended to purple. Add some Burnt Umber to the mixture where you need to get really dark. Add some Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna to the eyes. Add Winsor Yellow with Opera Rose on top of it to the lips. When this dries, add purple over the lips, still saving the highlights. Add some Cobalt Blue under the eyes in the highlight area. Outline the upper lip and soften it toward the center. For the bottom lip, paint the bottom portion up to the highlight and take notice; there’s a lighter space between the bottom lip and chin. Make sure the outer corner of the lip has a dark edge.
8. Darken the Hair
When you begin painting the hair, stand up. I’m serious. This will assist you in visually understanding where the dark and light placements are. Use a no. 8 round. First paint the darks around the braided sections. This will ensure that the deeper you get in the painting, the less likely you will be to lose your precious highlights. You may allow some of the color to go into the braided sections so they don’t remain too light. There are darker sections found in the braids as well. Use the tip of your brush to pull paint into the darker areas and soften. Use varied mixtures of French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber; French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson; and French Ultramarine, Burnt Umber and Alizarin\ Crimson in the hair. Experiment!
9. Checker the Shirt
Paint all the checkered squares, paying close attention to the value and shapes because they are varied. Alternate between using your no. 2 and no. 4 rounds. Use the one you feel most comfortable with. In the darker checks in the shirt, use a bluish mixture of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson; for the medium-shaded checks, use a Cobalt Blue and Cerulean Blue mixture; and for the lightest checks, use Cobalt Turquoise Light and Cobalt Blue. Allow to dry.
10. Connect the Checks
Using a no. 4 round, combine the dark and medium blue mixture from step 9 (French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson, and Cobalt Blue and Cerulean Blue) to paint the lines to connect the checks. Paint in one direction and allow the paint to dry. Then paint the cross section. In the lighter areas, simply water the paint down some, making it lighter, and apply it in the sections that are lighter.
11. Paint the Shadows & Folds
Make sure the checks are dry and then look for the larger areas and folds in the shirt that are darker. Apply a wash to them using the mixture from step 10 and a no. 10 round. Allow these areas to dry and go back over the shadow areas (folds) with a French Ultramarine and Burnt Umber mixture to deepen them.
12. Intensify the Flesh Tones
Strengthen your flesh tones in the face, arms and hands wit New Gamboge, adding a Burnt Sienna and Scarlet Lake mixture over it, wet-into-wet with a no. 10 round.
13. Add more Darks
Start adding more darks in the face and hair with a mixture of French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Umber. Drag some of the mixture into the highlight areas so there’s a smooth transition from dark to medium to light. Outline the braids with a strong dark to make them stand out. Add French Ultramarine to the highlights in the face as well.
14. Complete the Hands
Using a mixture of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson and a no. 8 round, paint a strip down the right side of the outside arm and soften all the way across the arm so it will dissipate by the time it reaches the other side of the arm. Allow that to dry. Finish painting the hands with a no. 4 round by first adding the darks in the creases and in the dark areas to create the turn of the fingers and the top of the hand. Use the French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson mixture, adding Burnt Umber to it where it appears darker and warmer. Go back to the left side of the arm and paint the strip down that side using the original French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson mixture again with a no. 8 round.
15 Finish Up
Continue to add darks in and around the hands and arms with the same darks (French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Umber) as well as the flesh tone (New Gamboge with Burnt Sienna and Scarlet Lake over it). Allow each successive wash to dry. When it looks good and you are satisfied, you’re finished.
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