Expressive portraits with graphic elements using HORADAM® GOUACHE

Who wants to create expressive gouache paintings based on photos or pictures from journals, finds various creative options using the Schmincke HORADAM® GOUACHE. These high-pigmented, velvet-mat colours with a natural opacity of the pure artists’ pigments (without being altered by adding white) allow convincing results to beginners as well as to experienced gouache painters.

You will need:

  • A photo or a picture, rich in contrast, from journals ornewspapers
  • HORADAM® GOUACHE colours: Ivory black (12 787),Zinc white (12 103), Indian yellow (12 230), Cadmiumorange (12 236), Carmine (12 352)
  • Paper, suitable for gouache painting, e.g. Hahnemühle Nostalgie paper 190g/m2
  • Transparent paper, e.g. Hahnemühle Tracing paper pad, 80/85 g/m2
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Small brushes, e.g. DaVinci Nova Synthetics No. 1 and No. 4
  • Pallet
  • Glass with water
  • Black Fineliner 0,4 mm or AERO COLOR® Professional LINER No. 1 (0,8 mm) or No. 2/4 (1 mm), filled with AERO COLOR® Professional colours, e.g. Black (28 702)

Step 1:

For expressive portraits, painted with only a few colours, you will need a picture/photo rich in contrast as a pattern. Put thetransparent paper onto the picture and trace the main outlines and important shadows with a pencil.


You also can determine the shadows and outlines with your PC, using a picture processing program like Photoshop, which enhances all contrasts of a picture. In Photoshop you will find the adjustment "threshold", which helps to enhance all shadows.

Step 2:

Now you have to transfer the traced picture onto your paper. To avoid a mirror-inverted result, you first have to retrace all lines and shadows at the rear side of the tracing paper with a pencil. Now you turn this pattern, put it onto the paper and transfer all lines and shadows by retracing them again.

Step 3:

For a much easier painting with the brush, you first have to outline the motif with a fineliner or our AERO COLOR® Professional LINER.

Step 4:

While painting, from time to time have a look at the original picture. It helps to decide which details are important and which are not. Mix a dark Anthracite with 2 parts of Ivory black and 1 part of Zinc white for all main parts and shadows. The HORADAM® GOUACHE can be used purely, but for a better application add a little amount of water. Now you can trace all outlines and fill all shadows with the brush. Pay attention to small details, e.g. light spots in the eyes, which should be left unpainted for a vivid and more intense look. Now the colours have to dry. Due to a low amount of binder, the drying time of HORADAM® GOUACHE is comparatively short.

Step 5:

Now you can paint the coloured highlights of the picture. Therefore you mix different shades from your chosen colours. In our example we use Indian yellow, Cadmium orange and Carmine for creating the effect of a picture made by an infrared camera. Highlights like the forehead or the tip of the nose will be emphasized with Indian yellow, light and dark shadowsare painted in Cadmium orange and Carmine. Leave some parts of the picture unpainted. Once applied colour cannot be removed afterwards.

Step 6:

Nevertheless you can make smaller corrections with the fine brush as well as add some details with the fineliner or an AERO COLOR® Professional LINER. Finally you should add some light reflections in the eyes and on the lips. Remaining pencil traces can be removed carefully with an eraser.

All recommended AERO COLOR® Professional LINERs in two different sizes, to be filled with AERO COLOR® Professional colours.