Armed with the right tools, even a beginner can paint a girl.
Artists have made careers of painting with only girls as their subject. Girls are such a tireless subject because of how they add a lot of form and a little mystery to every painting. Beginners typically start by painting the indication of a girl and build up to more stylistic techniques and photo realistic portraits. The best advice is to start with the right tools and some inspiration. Beyond that, there’s no wrong way to complete a beautiful painting.
1. Sketch your subject without clothes to get a better idea of their posture and how their clothes will sit when they are added later.
Use the grid paper to create a sketch that focuses on the shape and posture of the girl subject, as she would appear without clothes. Use the grid on the paper as a measuring tool to calculate proportion. Communicate the natural geometry of the body with shapes, such as circles and triangles.
2. Use the eraser to remove any excess or stray lines until you have a clean outline with only the necessary details.
3. Create separate sketches that focus on the girl’s details, such as hands, facial expression and clothing details.
4. Lay tracing paper over the grid paper so that the sketch is visible through it.
5. A reference sketch of your subject’s clothes should include natural folds and wrikles in the fabric.
Draw clothing on the tracing paper. Follow the lines of the girl’s body to form the lines of the clothes. Include contour details where the fabric might naturally drape or fold on the body.
6. Using your original sketch as a reference, mark your canvas or paper with pencil to map out the main points of your girl figure.
7. Mix paints in a jar or cup to create a middle flesh tone. Use a burnt sienna paint to darken the color, and white, yellow, red, or ultra marine to lighten the color and add depth.
8. Use stiff, flat brushes for the silhouette of your girl subject.
Choose a medium-size brush and apply the medium flesh tone to the canvas to create a silhouette of your girl. Allow the layer to dry.
9. Separate a small portion of the middle flesh tone and mix it with brown to darken it by about two shades.
10. Separate a small portion of the middle flesh tone and mix it with white to lighten it by about two shades.
11. Pick up a little of the dark flesh tone with a dry, round brush and lightly apply it to the shadow areas of your figure. Use small, circular strokes to work the paint into creases, bent joints and contours. Allow the layer to dry.
12. When painting a girl, use highlights and low-lights to denote shape, detail and light.
Pick up a little of the light flesh tone with a dry, round brush and lightly apply it to the shadow areas of your figure. Use small, circular motions to work the paint onto points of the body that are hit by a light source. Allow the layer to dry.
13. Mix a small portion of the middle flesh tone with a little water or gel medium to create a sheer paint. Apply this translucent layer with broad strokes over the entire figure, so that it neutralizes the highlights and low-lights you’ve just painted. Allow the layer to dry.
14. Paint in the clothing, facial features, hair and props with colors or patterns of your choice and use the highlighting and low-lighting technique to add dimension, as you did with the girl’s figure.
15. Exaggerate eyes, lips and hair by outlining them with slightly darker shades of paint.
Use a fine brush and dark tones to add extra details, such as implied strands of hair, eyelashes, lipstick and designs to clothing.