Disclosure: Please note, that when you click certain links and purchase certain items through my Website , I will receive a referral commission. A quick portrait painting demo showing a relatively painless approach to portraits using a limited palette and a four value underpainting. I started with a detailed line drawing and then painted a 4 value study using only black, a dark grey, a lighter grey, and white. To paint your own  4 value study you can either use photoshop to convert your reference to black and white and then posterize your reference down to 4 values (see below.) or you can outline groups of value areas directly on your full color reference and then decide if each outlined group, in terms of value, is more closely related to a black,a dark grey,a light grey, or a white.
Using a limited palette of alrizarin crimson, cad yellow, ultramarine, white, I mixed a generic overall pinkish flesh tone and diluted the paint with water and lightly tinted the entire face, except for the white areas. Finally, I mixed and added little saturated areas of local color, mixed with the three primaries.


If you want to make a large brush, the maximum size is 2500 pixels (height or width, either one) Also, if you are running CS1 or earlier, your max size is probably 1000px. There are multiple ways to convert to black and white but I like to either add an adjustment layer or simply go to Image > Adjustments > Black and White. Formally trained at Oklahoma State, Jay Hilgert is a graphic and web designer, font designer (Link), software developer (Brush Pilot™), and the founder of BittBox. It’s one of my favorite ways to add texture to a design, without the need to mess with merging images and blending modes on top of that.
Because when making a brush, Photoshop treats pure white as 100% transparent, and pure black as 100% opaque.
Oh, and don’t forget to save your brushes from the brush palette menu or you’ll lose all your hard work!


Saturation is automatically controlled by the fact that the paint is diluted and the pigments are dispursed sparsly and the grey underpainting is showing thru and influencing the color. This is great because it means we don’t have to do any clipping and the images we use to make brushes can be very complex and still turn out decent. After that first flesh tint is added you can get really reckless with the color and it will still seem believable.
This is a fun, consistant, and relatively painless technique for making portraits compared to some of the other less systematic approaches.



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