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Child Portrait

Updated on August 28, 2013

Stage one, fine pencil and gouache.

This is a sequential display of the stages and progress of a portrait of a child that has been completed in mixed media, using, graphite pencil, pastel and gouache on cartridge paper.

I always stretch the paper onto boards for working on so as to minimise the wrinkling effect that happens when paper has been wetted.

The portrait size is 16 inches or 41 centimeters wide by 20 inches or 51 centimeters in height this is because picture frames can be easily obtained off the shelf at this size in abundance so there is plenty of choice for people.

I always try to use as much of the white of the paper as possible and only make the necessary amount of marks needed to achieve the likeness I work from the premise that less is more.

The first stage is to draw a very light pencil line drawing in order to make certain the work is in proportion and positioned well on the paper for best effect.

Once this is achieved I then start filling in the different areas with detail using gouache and a very fine sable or nylon brush this is usually a size 0 or a 1 so as to reduce the risk of making too many marks in places that wont work.

If I do make too many marks that don’t work with a small fine brush then I can more easily lift them back off the page to hide any mistakes. Where as if they are made with a bigger brush they tend place more paint on the paper making them more difficult to lift off.

I work the eyes first from right to left because I am left handed when working on fine detail and this means I always work away from the marks I have made helping to ensure I do not spoil the work with my hand leaning on the paper.

Stage one, fine pencil and gouache detail.

Stage two, more gouache.

Here I have added more detail to the hair using the same brush size 0 or 1 and also a size 3 to more quickly cover slightly bigger areas creating heavier lines for greater definition.

Stage two detail.

Stage three, adding pastel.

At this point I have added pastel for creating form and softer tonal modeling to the image for the illusion of flesh textures.

This is achieved because of the nature of pastel being a chalk substance that is easily blended using a smudging tool I always use a range of different sized smudging tools of rolled up paper for different effects.

I never smudge with my hands or fingers because our skin produces oils, salts and acids that over time damage the work causing uneven stains and bleaching.

Stage three, detail.

Stage four, more gouache and pastel.

Now I have added more gouache to create the clothing and pastel shades these have been added to the hair to create softer definition and shading for a more photo realistic effect giving the illusion of a sheen to the hair.

Stage four, detail.

Stage five, refining the detail with gouache and pastels.

Now adding more highlighting to the hair and flesh tones with pastels for tonal modeling thus creating more form to the image for greater photo realism that will be better defined with final eliminates added to frame the facial features.

The meaning of this will be more apparent when the final image is viewed after the next.

Stage five, detail.

The end result.

Here hopefully you will be able to understand what was meant when I stated that adding final elements to frame the face would create better and more well defined features between photo realism contrasting with more obviously painted areas.

The finished work.

This work as with many other pieces was created from photograph but unfortunately I do not have the photograph for comparison but there is another image with a photo comparison for viewing below


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    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      10 years ago from North Wales

      Hi Ian,

      If you want any help or just somebody to bounce an idea off then give us a shout I will be happy to help.

      Thanks, Gareth.

    • Ian Hudson profile image

      Ian Hudson 

      10 years ago from Sheffield, England

      Great stuff. I will follow your techniques while I create portraits.

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      11 years ago from North Wales

      Hi Manna in the wild, cool, thanks Gareth.

    • Manna in the wild profile image

      Manna in the wild 

      11 years ago from Australia

      Good tutorial - thanks.

    • Party Girl profile image

      Party Girl 

      13 years ago

      Hi Gareth. You are very clever. good luck in the future.

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      Hi Martine, thank you for your comments, beautiful is such a nice word and yes it is a little boy with an earring.

      I enjoy the process of transformation and I am happy others can also.

      Where would we be without the humble pencil?

      Thank you again, Gareth.

    • profile image

      Martine Metaxas 

      13 years ago

      Gareth, beautiful work. How that little boy came to life before our eyes! (i'm presuming the gender from the characteristics and clothing but on reflection the earing threw me a bit!)

      Good tactic to show the different stages. I myself can't draw for love nor money, but I felt myself willing to pick up pencil and start drawing!

      Good luck for the future


    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      Thank you to Karen and Lesley for your comments I am glad that people can enjoy seeing the process as well as the end result.

    • Karen and Lesley profile image

      Karen and Lesley 

      13 years ago from United Kingdom

      Those drawings are really great. This is a great hub and the way that you have done it in stages showing us how to complete a portrait is fab. Thanks.

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      Thank you Mike for your coment.

    • Mike Stokes profile image

      Mike Stokes 

      13 years ago from Baton Rouge, LA

      Wow, great presentation! Mike

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      Thank you, Steve and Dragan

    • profile image


      13 years ago

      Good Stuff Gareth very helpful.

      Thank you.

    • profile image


      13 years ago

      nice stuff

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      And thank you too Kenny.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      13 years ago from Chennai

      A delightful hub to be with, for a fellow artist, and useful. Thank you very much, Gareth! :)

    • Gareth Pritchard profile imageAUTHOR

      Gareth Pritchard 

      13 years ago from North Wales

      Mostly all my life thank you for the complimentary observation.

    • Whitney05 profile image


      13 years ago from Georgia

      Wow those are great drawings. How long have you been drawing?


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