How to Paint your First Realistic Portrait


In this article, you will discover a method to achieve a hyper-realistic portrait. Painting a hyper-realistic and similar portrait requires precision, accuracy, patience, and knowledge. To achieve this, there are several techniques.

Depending on your drawing level, you can choose to draw by hand or use a grid. You must acquire the greatest possible precision and absolutely avoid typos that can ruin everything. In fact, it is easier to choose a photo as a template because you can spend tens of hours, if not hundreds of hours, going into all the details and getting the sharpest renderings.

What discourages many people are the hours spent in front of an easel, only to become discouraged after 30 or 40 hours. If you do not paint the model as it is, you very quickly risk straying from the results you are looking for and you will waste hours and hours figuring out how to achieve such a result.

I was often in this situation and sometimes I still encounter this kind of difficulty, to paint the smallest elements. By looking step by step for a method, I succeeded in breaking down this work into 4 main stages that I will explain to you.

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How to achieve hyperrealism

There are at least two approaches to achieving hyper-realistic rendering, the first is to draw the model with great care with a very high level of detail. the second method consists in drawing the outlines of each element of the face, without forgetting anything. then paint area by area from top to bottom.

The material to be used:

  • -Hb pencil
  • – Eraser for white highlighting ( Do not use to erase drawing errors )
  • – Acrylic paint
  • -Varnish to retouch

Paint brushes:

  • Range of flat brushes from 2 to 6
  • Polecat log 1 to 4
  • Small gray squeegee of 1
  • Range of small sable type brushes 1; 0; 2/0


  • – black
  • – Umber
  • – Yellow ochre
  • – Primary yellow
  • – Magenta
  • – Vermilion
  • – Ultramarine blue
  • – Ceruleum blue
  • – White

1) Step 1: Go from drawing to painting

The technique that I present to you today is a method of painting on a drawing from the superposition of glazes you will go from drawing to color more easily.

the resemblance will be obtained by volume setting with the color step by step on the whole table.

This work breaks down into 4 stages.

In the third part, I will show you how to work on the details, I will show you a 5-step method for custom dog painting… but first let’s focus on the skinny layers, to get the dominant colors …

Once the drawing is finished …

  • – Start painting the outlines with a mixture of umber and black
  • – then apply several coats of very diluted glaze, starting with the hair, then the face. eyelashes, eyes, nose, and mouth.

2) Step 2: work on shadows and lights

Before going any further, you must place the areas of shadow and light, on the face, to get as close as possible to the resemblance of the model.

At this stage, you work in a thick layer, it is necessary to cover the table while not leaving any more transparency.

  • – Observe and start to assert certain areas to place the first gradients.
  • – Work on the shadows on the forehead, the promises, etc, etc… finish with a few discreet white highlights.
  • – then work on certain parts of the face (eyelashes, eyes, nose, and mouth)
  • -Place some very discreet shadows on the nose with a mixture of yellow ocher glaze, magenta and a touch of umber (very discreet).

3) Step 3: details, paint strands of hair.

The next step can be broken down into several parts, you will paint the intermediate shades between the dark areas and the lighter areas to create a finer and finer gradient between the shadows and the light areas, then you will concentrate on the hair by combing strand by strand then hair by hair.

Painting the hair:

This is the longest job, it breaks down into 5 steps. It is important to follow a method and take certain shortcuts.

1 –To paint realistic hair, you will first start with the funds, and make some masses appear darker and others lighter.

It is also important to understand the movement and direction of each bit to get a cohesive whole from the start, you can still rework some areas, and correct some mistakes, but you will certainly save a lot more time making a well-constructed drawing.

To obtain realistic hair, you must above all avoid painting parallel strands, also avoid any “mass or bundle” effect.

Look at the model instead, to draw the movement as a whole rather than the detail.

If you have followed all the steps, you should have already obtained all the shades of shadow and light of the hair, then you have passed a glaze based on yellow ocher and magenta to obtain a red tone.

2 – Before going any further, you will iron a slightly more sustained glaze over the entire hair, to then paint lighter strands.

If you have already painted a few gradients, you will primarily paint the lightest strands in the lightest areas.

let dry then touch up each strand in the next step, using lighter and lighter colors with smaller brushes to rework each strand one by one with a 0 marten.

3- Iron another glaze based on 55% magenta and 45% yellow ocher, let dry. This glaze will allow certain strands to pass in the background.

You will then paint hair by hair with a zero sable in the lighter areas that appear; with a mixture of Naples yellow and a touch of magenta.

However, avoid painting white hair, to make the effect of light, I advise you to add a discreet point of yellow in the mixture.

4 and 5- Let dry then touch up the parts not worked at the beginning of the last two steps.

  • – Create softer gradients on the face.
  • – Mark certain details (eyelashes, mole, teeth, etc.)
  • -Paint the lips of the mouth with dark parts and lighter parts (fleshy colors a little more intense with an extra touch of magenta.)
  • – Affirm certain shadows on the face
  • – achieve finer and finer gradations.

4) Step 4: Make the skin texture

After you get more subtle gradations between the shadows and highlights, you should get almost imperceptible fades.

At this point, check that there are no missing details.

  • -Spray a very light glaze based on yellow ocher on the hair
  • -Take a polecat log then achieve the texture of the skin while respecting the areas of shadows and lights.


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