How to Paint Pop Art Portrait

Skill Level : 1 Beginner, 2 Intermediate

Medium : Acrylic Painting

Subject : Portraits

Tutor : Nolan Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 15 minutes

Avg Rating : No Ratings Yet

Silver Level or Higher Class

Class Description

In this acrylic painting lesson we will paint a pop art portrait.

During the class you will learn how to take a standard photo and use it as reference as you change it into a pop art artwork. You will then learn what to leave and what to change in order to get the comic book effect.

As we progress you will see how interesting objects and items can be used to create fun effects in the artwork.

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Short Class Video

Class Tutorial

Painting the background


Today we are going to paint a pop art portrait of this lady.

We will paint her to look like a scene from a comic book, just like Roy Lichtenstein used to do.

I start by drawing the basic outlines of the lady onto a canvas as well as a portion of a speech bubble.

Traditional pop art was made using the screen printing technique and flat bright colours which had no shadings. We are going to replicate this effect using standard brushes and acrylic paint.

I start off by blocking in the background with cerulean blue.

I then cut out a piece of non-slip mat the size of the background.

We are going to use this to get a Ben-Day dot effect in the background. This will suggest a printed effect.

I only want these dots in the background however so I use clear cover to mask off the surrounding area.

Clear cover is a transparent sticker which can be cut using a craft knife.

I then add some white to the cerulean and carefully coat the non-slip mat with this paint. I am essentially forming a stencil which will print dots onto the canvas.

I carefully lay the mat onto the canvas and press down to transfer the dots, adding more paint until I am happy with the effect.

I have not tried to get the dots perfect as this adds to the printed effect.

I block in the speech bubble with white paint as well as the white of the eyes.

Painting different shadings of the face


We can now move on to the skin area.

As we cannot do any shading we will look for areas of similar tonal value and block them in with different values of skin tone, leaving a sharp edge between each value.

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Painting the hair


The lady has blonde hair, so in keeping with the process used by comic makers I block in the hair using yellow.

To create the effect of locks I paint solid lines separating each lock using orange.

To suggest shadings I paint lines of varying length using the orange in the dark areas and white in the highlighted areas.

Standing back I felt this transition on the cheek was not broad enough so I widened that.

Always remember to stand back from your paintings every now and again. You will be amazed at how many glaring mistakes you miss when painting up close. Standing back allows you to spot to these mistakes before it is too late.

Painting the lips, nails and flower


I block in the inside of the mouth with alizarin crimson and the lips with a lighter version.

The lip colour is also used on the nails and flower.

To suggest shading, I block in solid areas on the mouth and nails using cadmium red.

To add interest to the flower I add random dots onto the flower using the same colour.

The lips and nails are highlighted using white and the shadow in the centre of the flower gets a touch of brown.

Painting the black outline


Now the fun starts as we use black paint and a rigger brush to outline all the major elements.

It is these outlines that bring the entire painting together and make it pop.

As you can see in a short while we have gone from a bunch of random blocks of color to a beautiful pop art portrait by adding the outlines.

Final painting


About Nolan Clark

Read more about Nolan Clark

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