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In my experience, eyes are rather tricky things to paint—and as small as they are in comparison to the rest of the face, they carry a huge amount of importance in a portrait. Not only do eyes need to look realistic, engaging, and alive, but they also need to resemble the eyes of the person that you’re painting.

In the following video, Craig Nelson demonstrates his own step-by-step methods for painting eyes, starting with the whites of the eyes in shadow, then moving on to the lash line, eyebrows, and folds of the upper eyelids before ever putting any color in the iris. More importantly, he’s getting the results below by continually studying his subject while painting. Take a look:

You can purchase this entire portrait tutorial by Craig Nelson at Creative Catalyst.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

Most paintings (especially portraits and figurative paintings) benefit from a good preliminary drawing before you ever pick up a brush. The traditional way of doing this is to draw on your canvas using charcoal or graphite, and then paint over it—but today we'd like to show you an alternative method. In the video below, Pat Weaver starts her preliminary drawing by putting down a medium-value wash over her entire painting surface. She then uses paper towels to "rub-out" or "lift" the paint, which creates areas of nearly pure white against the medium-value background. As you'll see, Pat carefully studies her subject matter (a small puppy) in order to replicate the highlighted sections on the puppy's head, nose, and body with her "lifted" areas. Once she's finished lifting the . . read more

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