How to Paint a Portrait From a Photo


Be it from life or photographs, when painting portraits, the focus must be on shapes rather than lines. To produce more realism, the colors must be mixed carefully and used wisely to create realistic portraits. The Interesting Info about Foto zeichnen lassen.

Note that likeness does not require exact reproductions. Large volumes often are more critical than individual details when considering closeness.


An essential aspect of painting is finding the ideal lighting conditions, vital to success. How the light hits a subject determines its shadows and any reflection on its surface; additionally, it impacts how a portrait’s colors appear to be illuminated.

Ideal, when painting portraits, would be to work from life directly. But this may only sometimes be practical or possible – thus, reference photos are the next best solution, with specific considerations worth noting when doing this.

Light is one of the first considerations when taking portrait photographs, with professional portrait photographers using specialized equipment and expert knowledge to capture just the right lighting for their subjects. Off-camera flashes and reflectors may add artificial illumination that mirrors natural description. To help people replicate this type of photography with their paintings, we have introduced Portrait Light into both Google Photo and Pixel Camera apps – it automatically adds artificial directional illumination.

To make your painted portraits appear more realistic, it is necessary to start with a firm foundation. This often means blocking in darks early using white, umber, and yellow, as this will give an understanding of facial structure. Be sure to blend and mix your paints well – some portrait artists even like to mix linseed oil into their colors to increase paint flow!

Once your block-ins are completed, the next step should be adding midtones. Use your reference photo as a guide when applying midtones; for instance, if the skin tone of the top layer is calm, then add in some red or yellow for warmth.

Get the value right when painting portraits to ensure success. Starting to light may fail to reach your desired results; to help find your ideal weight, try squinting your eyes to reduce visual information and focus on larger shapes and tones instead.


Shadows play an essential part in creating a vibrant portrait painting narrative. Shades can highlight specific features or functions of the subject’s face or body, create depth and form, suggest emotion, or draw the viewer’s eyes directly toward its focal point.

Sub-framing is an excellent technique for painting shadows, breaking up the face into separate shadow areas with distinct shapes and colors to simplify painting them. By doing this, it helps break down complex facial features into manageable chunks that are easier to paint.

Shadows should also be carefully considered for highlights and midtones of a painting. Too harsh or dark shadows can become overwhelming and detract from its overall balance, which should always be the goal.

Working from photos can tempt one to go overboard with the shadows, leading to flat and lifeless paintings. To prevent this, it’s wise to compare your artwork regularly against its reference photo to detect problems early and make adjustments before they become too severe.

As when working from photographs another important consideration when working from photos is lighting quality. This will affect both colors and shadow temperatures – fluorescent lighting tends to create cool-toned shadows, while natural lighting typically offers warmer, muted tones that add depth and dimension. Utilizing this information in paintings can add much-needed dimensionality and depth.

Though painting from photographs may seem distasteful to many artists, masters such as Caravaggio found significant benefits. Painting this way allows an artist to concentrate more on capturing the subject’s personality than simply reproducing their physical features – which creates paintings with lasting memories and significance for viewers.


Mid-tones, which lie between light and shadow tones, help create the shapes and shadows that define facial features. Starting here will ensure you place less emphasis on highlights and darks, which might require extensive correction later.

Midtones can include any skin tone available to you; most portrait painters will keep a selection of burnt umber, yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, and titanium white (available from M. Graham artist’s oil paint assortment) handy to provide all the variety in skin tones they require when portraying their subject.

When blocking mid-tones, it’s helpful to have the reference photo close at hand to see where shapes relate and prevent an overload of pigments that would make a painting seem flat and lifeless.

As you add mid-tones, keep an eye out for how your subject’s eye color matches their pupils. Eye color is essential in creating lifelike portraits; too dark or light-toned eyes will discredit an otherwise fantastic painting.

Once the midtones are in place, you can start adding lighter areas of hair and other parts of the face. Remember that skin tones cannot always be precisely the same across your entire face; don’t focus on getting it perfect. You may need to cool off or warm up by mixing ultramarine blue or crimson into the mix or by adding touches of yellow.

Once you’ve completed the basics, it’s time to add the finishing touches to your portrait. Your brow should have some definition and lip colors added; when working on these details, squint your eyes frequently and judge whether the results look natural. Using your reference photo as a guideline may help ensure consistent brushstrokes throughout.


When painting portraits from photos, it’s crucial to understand how light and dark areas interact. Painting from life is ideal, but that may only sometimes be practical or possible – reference photos offer accurate results in their place. Reduce the picture size to fit your canvas/panel size, then sketch the image using pencil or charcoal. Sketching helps create more natural forms, which help produce realistic portraits.

When working from a photograph, it can be helpful to begin painting the darkest areas first and then add lighter areas over them as an overall impression of how colors interact within the face. This will enable you to achieve a more accurate representation of shapes while understanding how their hues blend.

As part of your darker face makeup look, incorporating multiple colors such as Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, and Winsor Blue Red Shade into the shadow application process is recommended. Though these are the most commonly used hues for shadow application, any hue that works with your skin tone should do; just be sure to blend and float each shade when applying. You could mix in some white for brightening purposes or ivory black to decrease its value and make the color more neutral.

At the core of portraiture lies finding an acceptable balance of contrast between lit and shadowed areas – this makes working from photos or models so helpful in reaching this effect more quickly. Remember, though, that your interpretation will always take priority over trying to recreate precisely what’s seen on paper!

Many artists prefer adding drama or moodiness to their portraits by making eyes and teeth appear more intense, which works particularly well when photographing mysterious or moody subjects. It can also be an excellent way of conveying emotions such as unrequited love or yearning.

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