Drawing a Portrait Using Oil Pastels (A Step-by-Step Guide)

in art •  last year

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Remember that oil pastels your teacher required you back in school? Are you always frustrated with using this medium because it's messy? Do you ever wonder what else can you do with your oil pastels aside from drawing cartoons and stuff? Well, let me show you a guide on how to draw a portrait using oil pastels!

Yep, you heard it right. I guess all of us struggled with using oil pastels at some point of our lives. It's really difficult to manage when it's your first time to use it but with practice, you will get the hang of it!

Here are the steps on how I did it:


Preparing the Materials

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Oil Pastels
Sketch Pad
Pencil & Eraser

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I used the Pentel Oil Pastels Large Sticks (48 colors).


Drawing the Basic Shape

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I made lines for me to know where to place the subject before proceeding with the details.


Drawing the Contour

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I then drew the contour of the subject.


Adding Green Grey

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Yes! Green. Well, what you learned about the color wheel is really important. Since our skin is composed mostly of combination or brown, red and white, we need a color to neutralize it. Green is the complementary of red. If you mix them together, the redness of a color will be reduced. Thus, it will allow us to avoid the subject to turn too red. I'm also using green as a shadow effect.

In this part, do not apply pressure when applying the colors. Notice the way I applied it. It is for me to blend the colors easily since I'm going to overlap a lot of colors.


Adding Vandyke Brown

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Then I added vandyke brown that will serve as a shadow for the subject.


Adding Ocher and Pale Vermillion

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Then I added these colors to make the skin warm.


Adding Dark Reddish Brown

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This will also serve as a shadow and it will make the skin warmer.

Adding Pale Orange and Pale Brown

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I blended the pale orange and the pale brown with the colors underneath. Notice how the light colors 'dominated' the dark colors. This is the reason why I always start with dark colors because it is easier to add light colors on top of dark colors than adding dark colors over light colors.


Adding Olive Green and White

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Then I added olive green for the shadows and white for the highlights. The way I applied the colors is quite pressurized now.


Adding Black and Vandyke Brown

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Then I added these dark colors. Do not apply pressure when using the black color. We will only use black to darken the color a bit.


Adding Dark Reddish Brown

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Adding Rose Madder and Pale Brown

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I added little amount of Rose Madder and added pale brown on top of the colors on the face. Notice how the pale brown made the colors blend.


Adding More Colors

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I added more colors on top of another. I just repeat the same process until I get the desired skin tone.


Adding Final Details

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I then enhanced the highlights on the face and added the hair and shirt. I like how the way it looks unfinished that's why I did not focus on them.



That's it! It looks quite complicated, right? With practice, you will just learn how to control this wonderful medium. Just keep on practicing!

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wow! you really had that hidden talent mam ah... Good job

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Thank you!

Nice piece of art! Thank you for sharing your talent. I will try this when I dont get busy. New follower here 😊 looking forward for the next art pieces

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Thank you! I'm glad that you will try it :D

Thank you for your tutorial, this is huge help for me. I gonna try it. I'm just new of that kind of meduim.

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Yay! I'm happy if someone learns something from me. Goodluck!

i am always in awe when seeing these kinds of artworks.. i don't know how to use pastels.. i guess i only tried it once..never tried it again..

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It's really difficult at first but you will learn how to love it. Thank you!