Portraits- Step by Step

As I was working on my last set of pencil crayon portraits I thought that I would document the layering process. It is interesting seeing the picture come together and seeing each individual layer.

So I started with my sandwich of fabric, batting and backer fabric. Traced the outline of the face over that and used my sewing machine with the free motion foot to outline the face in black thread.

The materials I used for this project are Prismacolor Premier Pencil Crayons and a krylon clear coat fixative.

The first layer was simply white…and I forgot to photograph it! If I am being honest I didn’t think of documenting it until I had started the first layer.

The second layer is sienna brown and is establishing the shading and planes of the face.


The next layer is Raw Umber and is deepening the shading on the face. Layered over top of the other two colours.


Next a layer of light peach over everything. I tend to try to make sure that I am following the contours of the face.


Next a layer of peach over the areas that have the sienna and umber. Usually I am working in circles and am looking to establish the midtone areas of the face. Here is a close up of the face.


Next I used burnt ochre to establish some of the shading on her face. At this point there is a lot of bouncing back on forth with the peach, ochre, sienna and umber. There was no point in photographing each separate change.


Next I add white to the mix and work on the highlights on her face. White is great to for fixing little mistakes and softening lines


At this point I need to work on creating the eyes, lips and teeth. For her eyes I used a mixture of indigo blue, black and white. The lips started with some peach, a bit of sienna and then some red to make the stand out from the skin. The teeth have simply been left white and I worked the shading in with a bit of umber and black for the darkest areas.


Now that the eyes and lips are complete I can go back and tweak the shading around the eyes and on the rest of the face. Really everything changes when you get the eyes in there.


So by this point I was about an hour and a half in so my motivation for documenting the rest was waning. At least every colour change!

A layer of white over the entire head of hair.


I used several different shades of yellow and brown to create her hair. Remember how I said I was tired of documenting by this point? Well I guess that included writing down the colours I used too! Sorry!


And finally the shirt needed to be finished. I did a layer of indigo blue over everything and then a light touch of white. Finally a bit if play with indigo black and white and I finished.

Overall it was about 2.5 hours and a really good indent in my finger!


My next post is going to be how to mount it onto a stretched canvas so that it looks like it is floating on the wall. Oh I did spray the final work with a protective sealant. It created a bit of a feel to the fabric but it set the pencil crayon without altering the colouring and made it smudge resistant.

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