View Full Version : What books are recommended for beginners to portraits?

12-20-2014, 02:14 PM
I am thinking that I *could* be very good at portraits because I've always had the uncanny ability recognize someone years after having only seen them once. Which books do you recommend for learning portraits?

12-20-2014, 02:54 PM
Paul Leveille has some good portrait books. He has one for pastels, drawing, and oils. I used to own the pastel book and thought it was quite good.

Another book that I would recommend is by Dennis Frost. "Capturing Personality in Pastel" I think is the title.

Helen van Wyk has an excellent portrait book as well. She uses oils, but that shouldn't matter much.

Not to toot my own horn, but I did a class here in the pastel forum a few years ago that covers portraits and figures. The first 4 installments are about portraits and has the advantage of being free! They are in the Soft Pastel Learning Center here:


Hope this helps.


12-20-2014, 05:49 PM
Thank you Don!

12-20-2014, 07:41 PM
George...I've got two to recommend, the first includes portraits - Pastel - Daniel E Green Edited by Joe Singer. ISBN 0.8230.3901-3
Second - The art of Pastel Portraiture - Contributions by 22 celebrated pastel portraitists - Madlyn-Ann C Woolwich ISBN 0-8230-3906-4
Both are useful for beginners upwards.

12-20-2014, 08:20 PM
Thank you Deidre!

SAS Designs
12-21-2014, 06:18 PM
http://www.amazon.com/Pastel-Painting-Atelier-Essential-Techniques/dp/082300841X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419200270&sr=1-1&keywords=Pastel+Atelier (http://www.amazon.com/Pastel-Painting-Atelier-Essential-Techniques/dp/082300841X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419200270&sr=1-1&keywords=Pastel+Atelier")
You might take a look at this one - Amazon lets you see a bit of the inside
good luck

12-21-2014, 07:24 PM
Luanna Luconi Winner is impossible to beat. Alain Picard also wonderful. Videos and books from both, taught in a clear, straightforward manner with great demos. Luanna's series on parts of the face is a master course.

12-22-2014, 02:07 AM
My favorite is Ellen eagle's "pastel painting atelier". I've read a bunch of different books on the subject thanks to my local library, and there are lots of good ones out there, but to be honest I learned by far the most from the six part tutorial series written up on this website! I would start there if I were you, my portraits improved by leaps and bounds as I slowly read through those lessons!

12-22-2014, 09:06 AM
I will definitely check out the tutorials here and the books you all mentioned.

12-23-2014, 10:05 AM
While not a pastels book, Drawing the Head and Figure by Jack Hamm is the single most useful book I found for getting the likeness. It's about $10, may have gone up to $12, paperback letter size. Tons of instruction. Too much to assimilate in one go, so I'd suggest skim reading and then work on one feature at a time looking it up in the index. This covers everything you need to know to get faces reading true. I first got this book when I was about 12 or 13, it had everything in it and I worked through it steadily over the years. Kept replacing copies as it wore out.

Similar books for Free, you can google on Andrew Loomis and find the download link for the Loomis illustration books. Same style.

Takng that approach to pastel, it suddenly gets easy. Pastels are looser and you have the tints available to do the nose and other features as soft shadows and highlights rather than hard dark lines in pen work. After going from tight pencil rendering to pastels it was so easy using pastels.

12-23-2014, 11:36 AM
An artist's complete guide to DRAWING THE HEAD - William L Maughan (http://www.amazon.com/Artists-Complete-Guide-Drawing-Head/dp/0823003590)- does use pastel, but tends to use just one- Stabilo Carb Othello 645 as his main drawing tool, to great effect! He uses it on Velvet Grey Strathmore Charcoal paper. I think overall it is my favourite drawing heads book as it is so comprehensive. He is a master of Chiaroscuro ( Light & Dark)

Barbara WC
12-23-2014, 04:31 PM
If you have any interest in painting children, Bev Lee's "Painting Children: Secrets to capturing childhood moments" is very good. The book also has useful information for skin tones, painting hair and painting several different fabrics that is very useful for adult portraits too. (children's proportions are a little different, but her technique can be applied to adults too).

Forgot to mention, this is a pastel book and filled with information about papers and pastel too (although more papers are on the market since this book came out).

Check your local library too, my library has several books on portrait painting, not all pastel, some are old, but they are free :) I love the library! :wave:

12-23-2014, 05:49 PM
Also for free, here on WC theres ESP - Portrait and Figure Fundamentals (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=532971) in the Pastel Learning Center. I linked to the first class but there are six in all. DAK723 taught these lessons in succession here in the Pastel Forum and they are very intense. Very thorough, effective lessons with numerous examples. You'll get the anatomy of features, facial proportions, ways of doing pastel textures and handling color. Always check here at WC for classes in what you want, there's usually good ones that happened a few years ago.