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Digital Subscriptions > Leisure Painter > Jan-18 > Approaches to portraiture

Approaches to portraiture

Part 1 Be inspired by Tony Paul as he offers techniques and ideas for drawing and painting portraits in a variety of media

Many leisure painters are terrified of trying portraiture, thinking it to be a tremendously serious and difficult subject, and the province of highly trained, professional painters. But this really isn’t the case. Portraits are great fun to paint and needn’t be taken too seriously. They are, however, an excellent way of improving your drawing skills.

I hope the following ideas and tips over this month (drawing) and next month (painting) will help you move forward with your own portraiture. Let’s start with the basics.


We all have to start somewhere and this is usually pencil on cartridge paper – with the safety net of a rubber! First portraits are usually done as a line drawing.

Ten-minute exercise The drawing of Jim (above left) took ten minutes to complete using just the point of a 2B pencil. You will notice that the outline of the profile is not of a uniform width. At art school we were taught to ‘feel’ a line, varying the pressure of the pencil on the paper.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to a new year of painting with Leisure Painter. We begin this month's tutorials with David Webb's new year-long series, Watercolour basics and beyond, where he takes you through essential watercolour techniques. This month, David discusses basic equipment and the first of the techniques: the wash. For all those who want a back-to-basics approach to drawing and painting, we have step-by-step demonstrations, illustrated techniques and practical advice in watercolour, acrylics and oils as well as drawing media. For those with more experience, you will find plenty of inspiration and practical instruction for painting portraits, landscapes, animals, still lifes, abstracts, a market scene and more. We're here to help you make the most of your favourite hobby.