Posted on April 15, 2014 by

Faces & Brushes

Painting iconic characters with acrylics on canvas

I’ve always been attracted to faces, especially close up shots. I decided to mix this interest with my love for pop culture icons. I’ll take you through the steps I follow when I work on these paintings.


When I look for reference photos, I’m looking for interesting composition and areas on the image where I can add intensity and movement. If I don’t find what I need online, I’ll take photos myself using models and then treat them in Photoshop. During the line work stage, it’s crucial to define the black and grey areas. I also try to keep the lines as expressive as possible; they will give the piece movement and will be part of the final texture.

middle Once the lines are locked down, it’s time to paint. I start with watered down layers while I’m defining the lighter greys. It’s easier to go from light tones to darker tones than doing it the other way around. At all times, I’m deciding where the texture is richer and which areas will be cleaner. The beauty of painting with acrylics is that it allows you to use them as watercolors and then during the final stages, you can mix them with little water or none at all to achieve thicker layers like the ones you get with oil.


After finishing all the greys, I add the black and white strokes. Every stroke needs to be confident and strong. It’s at this point where I use splatters to add some movement. These strokes will bring everything together. Think of the white paint as the areas where the light is stronger on the face, the nose, lips, cheekbones (yes, Storm Troopers also have cheekbones). For the final touches, I use pastels to define finer lines and overall details.