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How-To: Self Portrait

 

Self Portrait
by Kirk Lybecker

The first thing is to take a look at yourself. I do not do this much so I thought I would take a look at some of the things that I liked in other portraits. I was interested in the movie posters of film noir. They had odd lighting angles. I really liked some of the pictures of Frankenstein. One of the things that I did not want is the classic photographic portrait where there are lights in front only.

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The second thing is to get a good look at the victim. I have a real good camera that has auto-focus and can have a good depth of field. The shots were hand held with a little help from having done a lot of them. I also used Photoshop to take a better look at the image. I also shot several to take some of the things that I like from each .

The usual approach is to start with a brush on wash of paint and turpentine. That should dry fairly quickly. I tend to build the interesting parts first. I l can and do fail at some of these projects and would not mind doing some things over as I enjoy them. So do the eyes first and the hair last.

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Most of the first painting is done with a regular brush. This allows a faster build up. I tend to do this with softer brushes. That does make the paint blend a little better. The paint is walnut oil based paint from M.Graham. The paint does dry a little slower, not that it matters much to me because I am a lot slower than the paint.

 

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The real fun comes with the airbrush. I start with an Eclipse CS brush using the .5 mm nozzle and needle. The Eclipse is a very good brush for this type of paint as it is easier to clean and is less sensitive to thicker paint. I prefer to thin the paint with a little turpentine as necessary. Most of the use of this brush is for background and for the general shading of the face.

 

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When it comes to doing the more refined modeling and detail work I use the Custom Micron C+. This has the ability to shadow the wrinkles. I also use the brush to put very thin coats of some of the more specialized colors. I find that for shadows on my skin tone that violet works as a light shadow color. I also use the micron to do some of the out of focus hairs (I have a lot of them).

 

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The background in this painting is my easel. I did some little conceits of water drops and some dimensional color chips that are from other paintings.

 

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Now all I have to do is to wait for a few months to do the varnish coat. After that I think I will build a box to keep it in so that it won’t be looking over my shoulder.

 

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