Usually, when we see a figure, regardless of its scale, the first thing we put an eye on is the face: is the focus from which de figure is reviewed, its details, uniform, accessories… but always, or almost always, we start from the vision of the face and what it transmits to us to interpret the rest of the figure.

This importance grows according to the scale of the figure, reaching scales considered "large", such as busts of 1/10 or 1/10 (or even larger), in which the face becomes even more relevant and its details are much more visible, and also gives us the possibility of a more precise and detailed work, giving a much more realistic finish to the figure.

There are many techniques, as well as tools and paints, but without being exhaustive, in this blog entry I would like to reflect what, for me, are the three most important points when painting realistic faces, regardless of whether you use acrylic paint, oil paints, inks, etc.



First and in my opinion the most important point. Prepare the complete palette with which we are going to paint the face according to our vision of the figure, the environment in which it is going to be or the sensation we want to transmit. This will help us to see how the tones of the shadows work with medium tones and the lights, to see if we have enough contrast, and if we need to reinforce any tones such us red or violet tones to give depth, etc.

There are many palettes for portraits, such as the Zorn palette or other classical ones. Personally, and this is my  preference, the colors that should never be missing when preparing our palette to paint  a face are: a reddish ground tone (such us toasted sienna or terra rosa), a yellow ochre, blue or magenta tone (which will give us depth in the shadows) and white , which will not only help us with the creation of the lights but also with the desaturate of the previous tones (which is an aspect that helps to gain realism). From there the possibilities are endless and different colors will be added within the specific needs of the figure (reds for glazes and providing quality, grays for the shadow of the beard, etc.).



A correct lighting (zenithal, focal or however we want) is essential. It is not important to choose one or another, but it is important that once we have decided which one of them, apply the lights and shadows at the correct areas. A previous exercise with a torch or with a spotlight pointing the desired direction can help us to see which areas will be more illuminated and which more shadowed.

From there, personally, it is important to start painting the larger volumes first (forehead, nose, cheekbones, chin, etc.), marking well all the light and shadow areas and then reducing the application area to work the details and smaller areas (the nose sides, under-eye circles, wrinkles…). With this system we ensure that we will be working the smallest details in a correct lighting scheme previously stablished. 



Skin is not smooth, it has imperfections, wrinkles, roughness, etc. and when we increase the scale of our figure, these details need to be painted to get a realistic result. On the one hand, we have to pay attention to small details, such as wrinkles on the side of the eyes or forehead, working them separately and in a very detailed way, getting to highlight them to the extent that we want them to. We also have texture on the cheekbones ore nose, which usually have pores, which can be imitated with techniques such as stippling. the attention to these details is what will give a plus of realism to our figures.

On the other hand, although we have to mark those details well, achieving good contrasts so that they stand out, etc., we also have to take care that the transitions between the different colors are subtle, smooth and hide any trace of brushstroke). At this point I want to emphasize that this is a personal option, my style, as there are great artists who prefer to look for other types of "finishes" on their faces, achieving equally realistic and impressive results.

These are, for me, the three principal points to start working to paint realistic faces. Among the many additional aspects that surely would have a place in this post (such as the eye painting and other ones also important)  , the is one in particular that I have lefts for the end and is none other than  PRACTICE: the more we practice and make mistakes, the better results we will get over time. So… let’s paint!

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