In this video, I share with you my process for creating a “Girl With A Smile”. Once again, this is a mixed media portrait done with watercolor and colored pencils.

Aside from talking about my painting and coloring process, I’m also sharing my thoughts on my HalfpanPH Watercolor Journal which uses Arches watercolor paper. (Not a sponsored review)

Video Transcript:

Hi, everyone! Marose here and today I’m going to show you the process for how I painted the Girl with A Smile. Once again, those of you following me on Facebook and Instagram will already have seen this piece posted last week, and I thank you for all the likes and lovely comments.

So this painting, I did in my Halfpanph 8.5 by 5.5 inch Journal which uses Arches 300gsm hotpressed watercolor paper and I will share with you my thoughts about this product and this paper in the video as well. And just so you know, this is not a sponsored review.

The reference photo for this painting is by pixabay user kassoum kone – I’m pretty sure I just butchered that name. Anyway, I begin with wetting the paper and right away you can tell the quality of this paper because of how well it can take the water with minimum warping or buckling. And if you’re new to watercolor painting, and especially if you want to do a lot of wet on wet painting, make sure you get a high quality paper. For dry brush techniques, you might get away with using something cheaper, but for washes a quality paper like Arches is the way to go.

And I start my first color wash with a layer of Madder Lake and I really love how easily and evenly the paint spreads over the paper.

Notice I’m using a number 10 Royal and Langnickel synthetic flat brush for this wash and I hold the brush high and away from the ferrule, which helps me keep things loose in this first layer.

And here I’m going in with some Ultramarine Blue for the darker areas and areas in shadow. And mostly, I’m just dabbing the paint onto the wet paper, and allowing the colors to blend into one another, and I’m not really doing any brush strokes at this point.

After that I touch in some Payne’s Gray to fill in the hair, with occasional hints of Burnt Umber. And as with the Portrait of a Girl that I did previously, since this is more of a study of the human face and of skin tones, I won’t be spending time adding details to the hair. But I do want to note the lovely granulating effect that is visible on the Arches hotpressed paper when I mixed the Payne’s Gray with the blue and the red and that produced some nice textures along the hairline.

I also painted in some touches of yellow ochre which is very much lighter than the actual skin tone of this girl, but it helps to give the skin tone a really nice warm and lively glow. And everything looks a little but funny at this point, it looks like I’ve painted a clown face. But not to worry as it will all come together as I proceed.

And once the initial paint layer has dried, I’m ready to go in with colored pencils. And I was actually thinking about if I should just continue using watercolors for the whole process, but because I wanted to have a similar style to the previous portrait that I did, I decided on using the colored pencils instead.

Another reason why I decided on using mixed media is because painting with watercolors, for me, requires a higher amount of focus and results in kind of a higher stress level for me, because the water drying puts you on kind of a time limit, and I wanted to deal with a more patient medium while doing the details of the face, which colored pencils are that for me.

So I’m using shades of Violet and Magenta to lightly outline the areas that I want to have the most detail. But I do this very lightly because I don’t want the outlines to be too strong. And then I begin to shade in some of the darkest areas of the face, but I’m still not using any black or brown colors at this time. Again, consulting my reference photo I take note of areas of warmer shadows like on the temples and the cheeks in this case, which I color using warm tones like reds and magenta. And for the cooler shadows like around the deep creases underneath the cheeks and at the corners of the mouth I will use cooler colors like blues or violets.

And I’m really enjoying how colored pencils work so well with watercolor paint, and how both these media appear so vibrant. Of course, it does help when you have good quality paper like this Arches paper to paint and draw on. And just to comment about this watercolor paper a bit more, my go-to is usually Fabriano Artistico, but this Arches paper is definitely now on my favorites for use in watercolor paintings as well as mixed media pieces like this one.


Now when using colored pencils on smooth paper like this hotpressed paper, you’ll end up with a lot of rough texture that you’ll need to blend over to become smooth. And so to blend and fill in any white spaces with color I go back to using paint for the next layer. And I do this using Burnt Umber with touches of Madder Lake for the warm tones, and Ultramarine Blue mixed with Madder Lake for the cool purple and violet tones. And because of the high quality of the paper, it’s very easy to blend your colors because the water and paint don’t settle too quickly as they might with lower quality paper, so my time limit that I was talking about earlier is a bit longer and that makes the process less stressful.

And I know I’ve said something similar in the previous portrait that I did, but I have to say again I am just so fascinated at how so many different colors are hiding in just one skin tone. We simplify calling people brown, or black or white but really all of us – pardon me for getting kinda philosophical about this – but the truth is if you look at people up close as I or other artists might do – we are all people of color. And to me it’s all, all of these skin tones are just beautiful, and I wish everybody could just see that when they look at other people who are different from them – that they see how beautifully we all are made each in their own way. Just trying to spread some love around, guys.

Now here I am working on this girl’s beautiful smile. And the reason why I chose her photo for reference is actually because of her smile, which I hope you can feel like I did how infectious it is. And I actually caught myself smiling and even laughing a few times just by looking at this girl, and I really wanted to capture that and be able to even enhance it. So I hope you can feel her joy through this painting as well.

In the previous Portrait of A Girl I mentioned how the eyes are the life of the portrait. While the eyes in this portrait, they are barely visible and the pupils are not even seen, but they are definitely still part of that joyful expression. But in this piece, I think, the smile the curve of the lips and the deep creases at the corners of the mouth are what give life here and are what you are drawn to look at, so I wanted to make sure that I got that right and therefore I paid special attention to the lips and how they are formed and pulled into a happy smiling expression.

And for a few more tips on how to render skin tones. To get the coloring right, especially with realistic skin tones and portraits, hone your skills of observation so that you can recognize the individual colors that together will suggest the actual skin tone. So for this deep dark brown skin tone that I’m painting, it’s not gonna work for me to just pull a brown color from my palette and to paint the skin in varying values of that brown. That would just make your portrait look very flat and uninteresting. I look beyond just the apparent or real color in the reference photo, I can see that it consists of some blue and violet tones blending into warm reds, and that’s why I spend time painting these colors in individually.

So back to my commentary about watercolor paper, I think, yes, a high quality paper makes the painting process easier, because it can take a lot of water and the paint can be spread more easily, and your paint and colored pencils will appear more vibrant and not so muddied as can possibly happen with cheap paper. But if you’re just starting out and you don’t have the money to always buy high quality paper, you can still get some good practice in with cheaper paper. And I really don’t think you should feel pressured to immediately buy expensive paper to practice on. You know, when I started out painting again I used a really cheap Berkeley sketchpad but it was good enough to practice with especially because I was also using just student grade media in the beginning. And I got some good results and some good learning out of it. And once I felt ready and my skills had developed is when I began to invest in more expensive materials. And I think, starting out with cheaper materials really helped me focus on building skills in the beginning, and it gave me a greater appreciation for the quality materials that I used later on. Of course, if you are producing art that you want to last, that’s an investment that’s really important because only quality materials will help preserve your artwork for as long as possible.

And for those of you in the Philippines, one quality product that I can recommend is this halfpanph watercolor journal made with arches paper that I’m using in this video. Again, this is not a sponsored review, but I do like supporting local shops and sellers that produce quality products for artists, and halfpanph is definitely one you should check out and a link to their Instagram can be found in the video description. The journals they sell come in different sizes, I do kinda wish that they would consider making journals with stitch binding alongside those with ring binding. I think, the stitched binding would be more appealing to people looking for travel art journals that they can easily pack and also for artists that like to draw or paint across a spread of two unbroken pages. But it’s a minor thing really. Aside from journals they also sell paint pans and cases in which to keep all your paint and paint materials. And even if you’re not in the Philippines, I think they do provide the option to ship the product abroad to you.

So I help I gave you some good insights about watercolor paper and about the Arches paper specifically. Most watercolor artists will already know the brand Arches, so this information is mostly for the new watercolor artists out there.

And I think the hardest part of the process is mostly done here, all that remains is to polish things up, saturate, blend and repeat as necessary. Although in my final round of layering in the paint onto this portrait, I do realize that the skin tone needs to be one more grade richer and slightly darker, so I go in more heavily with the Burnt Umber, still being careful not to obliterate the layers that I had built up underneath.

Lastly, I do one more pass over the facial details with the black colored pencil in the shadow areas, and I darken the hairline and the neck area with one more coat of paint and another layer of black colored pencil I, and the darker shadows around the face help to frame it and bring the smile to the center of the viewer’s attention.

And this portrait is now nearly done! I hope you enjoyed watching that process and that you learned something from me today, click the like button if you did. Leave your comments or questions in the comment section below. Oh and what’s up next for me? I think for next week I’m going to be doing some fan art for you from one of my favorite TV series Game of Thrones, and the process video for that will likely come out next Friday, but you’ll see the finished piece posted earlier on my Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks so much for watching, everyone! See you in the next video! Bye!

Art Materials:

Holbein Watercolors (Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre)
Yarka Watercolors (Madder Lake, Ultramarine Blue, Payne’s Gray)
Royal and Langnickel Synthetic Paintbrushes
Faber Castell Classic Colour Pencils
Faber Castell Polychromos Colour Pencils
Koh-I-Noor White Charcoal Pencil
HalfpanPH 8.5″x5.5″ Watercolor Journal with Arches 300gsm Hot-pressed paper

Relevant Links:

HalfpanPH on Instagram:
HalfpanPH on Facebook:

Reference Photo:

Pixabay user kassoum_kone

Video Editing:

Video & Stills: Samsung Note 9
Video editing app: Power Director
Photo editing app: Snapseed