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How To Paint A Portrait From A Photo For Beginners

Portrait Painting for Beginners with Joseph Todorovitch Art

The Importance of Choosing the Right Photo

Before you start painting a portrait from a photo, it’s important to choose the right photo. A clear, high-quality photo with a good resolution will make it easier for you to see the details of the subject’s face. Try to choose a photo that is well-lit and has good contrast to help you see the different tones and colors in the subject’s skin.

Gathering Your Painting Materials

Once you have your photo, it’s time to gather your painting materials. You’ll need a canvas, paintbrushes, and paint. Acrylic paint is a good choice for beginners because it dries quickly and is easy to work with. You’ll also need a palette, water for cleaning your brushes, and a rag or paper towel for wiping excess paint.

Sketching the Outline

Before you start painting, it’s a good idea to sketch the outline of the portrait on your canvas. This will help you get the proportions right and ensure that the final painting looks like the subject in the photo. Use a light pencil to sketch the outline, and don’t worry about getting everything perfect at this stage.

Blocking in the Basic Shapes

Once you have your outline, it’s time to start blocking in the basic shapes of the portrait. Use a large brush and paint the different areas of the face with broad strokes. Don’t worry about getting the colors exactly right at this stage – you’re just trying to establish the basic shapes of the portrait.

Adding Details and Shadows

Once you have the basic shapes blocked in, it’s time to start adding details and shadows. Use smaller brushes to add more detail to the face, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. Pay attention to the different tones and colors in the subject’s skin, and use different shades of paint to create shadows and highlights.

Blending Colors

As you add more detail and shadows, it’s important to blend the colors together to create a seamless look. Use a clean, damp brush to blend the colors together and smooth out any harsh edges. This will help create a more realistic-looking portrait.

Finishing Touches

Once you’re happy with the overall look of the portrait, it’s time to add any finishing touches. This could include adding highlights to the subject’s hair or adding more detail to the background. Take your time with these final touches, and don’t be afraid to step back and assess your work as you go.

Practice Makes Perfect

Remember that painting a portrait from a photo takes practice, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t turn out perfectly. Keep practicing, and try different techniques to see what works best for you. With time and patience, you’ll be able to create beautiful, lifelike portraits from photos.


Painting a portrait from a photo can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially for beginners. With the right photo, materials, and techniques, you can create a beautiful portrait that captures the essence of your subject. Just remember to take your time, be patient, and keep practicing – you’ll be amazed at what you can create.