This is a digital pastel portrait done in Corel Painter 7. It is based on a traditional pastel painting done from life and photographs taken at the same time as the original pastel. The portrait was painted freehand entirely on the computer using an A4 Wacom tablet.

In the tutorial I have tried to describe the total process including both the “artistic” considerations and the mechanics of using the software. Consequently the tutorial is as useful for traditional portrait artists as it is for those using digital media. The following pages show the build up of the picture from choice of paper colour to the finished portraits and describe the processes involved. The tutorial was done with Painter 7, but you can use any Painter version, Painter Classic or pastels and paper.  See section below if you are not using Painter 7.

I would love to hear your comments.

Pages of this tutorial
1. This page
2. Preparation
3. Start Work: Basic structure of the head
4. Painting details of the face
5. Hair detail, rosy cheeks and background
6. Costume texture and detail
7. Notes and comments
8. My digital portrait gallery


Using the tutorial if you don’t have Painter 7

Real pastels:  Use soft artists’ pastels (not oil pastels).  Pastel pencils are useful for sharp details but not essential.  Find a sand coloured paper with a tooth – not too deeply pitted.  For example Ingres, or Fabriano. 

You will also need a kneadable eraser to gently remove pastel mistakes.  You can mould it into little pieces and press it down.  It does not remove the marks as completely as you can on digital media.  Don’t use a sand coloured pastel as an eraser.  This only works in digital pastel.

Use pastels of the following colours .  Black, white, pale shell pink, medium rose, dark red-brown.  For soft clouds of colour use the side of a piece of pastel and wipe with a soft paper tissue.

Versions of Painter before Version 7  For versions of Painter before version 7 you will find small differences but no problems.  The suggested paper type is not in the default libraries so you will have to find some similar toothed paper. The brush type and variants are also different but equivalents are easy to find, for example Artists Pastel Chalk in Painter 6. 

Painter Classic.  The main difference here is that you must use Chalk as the media and Soft Chalk as the variant with Hand Made or Basic Paper.  You cannot make a colour set, so, either keep the same hue (same position in the outer circle) and pick within the triangle, or create dabs of your colours at the bottom of your picture and pick with the colour picker.

Dabbler:  You should be able to get good results with Dabbler but you will have to be inventive to overcome the limited choice of brush sizes that it offers. 


Tutorial: This page 2 3 4 5 6 7 My home page Email me Next
All artwork © Jeanie Mellersh