paintingpainting art

Basic tips for beginners in art painting

This video demonstrates it very well:

10 Painting Tips for Beginners

Published in

3 min read

Jan 20, 2017

I’ve now been professionally painting for three years. Before dabbling in oil paints, I was only experienced with acrylic paints in secondary school and thus credited myself with little painting ability — at best. It wasn’t until I took the following steps myself that my love for oil paints positively prevailed.

  1. Your subject should be something which resonates with you; to paint well is to paint with passion.
  2. Experiment with various painting mediums such as acrylics, oils, gouache, or watercolours. Then pick one medium to master in order to progress efficiently.
  3. Research your chosen medium before delving into the deep end. Watch YouTube videos, read art books, find blogs on the essentials, ask artists on social media for their preferred materials and brands and never be afraid to ask them for tips or advice. Remember that most of us began with very little knowledge ourselves.
  4. Find a large, clear area to work in — be it on the floor or kitchen table. All your materials need to be out in view and easily accessible until your piece is finished.
  5. Invest in high-quality brushes as the cheap brush heads will only shed their hairs as you are painting, breaking your concentration and leading to unnecessary frustration.
  6. Get into the habit of cleaning your brushes after every session. Don’t be lazy with this part, you will only regret it later! Particularly when it comes to oil painting. Always clean your brushes with turps when you’ve finished for the day.
  7. Paint in YOUR own style. This will be unique to you as an individual and will imprint your work with authenticity.
  8. Post your work on social media, sharing as often as possible. Works in progress are often favoured over completed work, so be sure to include them. Instagram is the best place to post your artwork for further motivation from encouraging comments. Don’t forget to add the correct hashtags pertaining to your work.
  9. Work at your own pace and don’t get caught up in internet hype. Follower counts are not a reflection of your artistic worth. Let your work speak for itself.
  10. Practice, practice, practice. It’s the only way to improve. It may well take years for you to see any improvement (as is the case with most professional artists) and others will probably notice it before you do, but I promise you it will all be worth it in the end!

If you wish to ask any painting questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me on any of my socials @rhymesandoils. I’d be more than happy to help!

Invest in the right materials

beginners painting tips

Whether you’re painting in your free time or intend to make some money from your hobby, it’s best to have the right materials. If you opt for low quality, cheap materials, it’ll show in your paintings – from a poor colour payoff to uneven strokes. Plus, the whole painting experience is dampened when your brushes shed bristles or paints run dry.

We recommend investing in the following, high-quality materials to give yourself the best chance of success with your paintings:

  • paintbrushes
  • paint palette
  • paints
  • canvas or painting notebook.

Start off easy

You won’t become Picasso overnight, and if you’ve never really painted before, you should start off easy with something like a paint by numbers for beginners. Here the design is taken care of and you can focus on getting comfortable with a brush in your hand – developing a good technique. This is a great, stress-free way to get into painting.

acrylic paints

When it comes to which paints you choose, the choice is yours – from acrylic to oil or watercolour to gouache. However, for beginners, we suggest going for acrylics. They’re easier to work with and can be diluted with water if needed. Definitely, the beginner-friendly option if you want fast-drying paints with an impressive colour payoff.

Take a class

It’s always a good move to learn from professionals if you want to develop a skill – and that rings true for painting too. Don’t be afraid to take a class, especially if you’re interested in learning a specific technique or style. Painting classes can be super fun too, and a chance to meet like-minded people.

From impressionism to abstract styles, there are lots of ways to paint. It can help to give your painting journey some direction if you pick a certain style to develop. Even if it doesn’t feel right to you in the end, you’ll still improve your painting skills and know what you don’t want to create. So do some research into different styles and try your hand at a few of them – they’ll all be important in helping you discover your own painting style. The beauty of it is that you can combine different approaches to create something wholly unique.

Face Drawing Tips

15. Basic Facial Proportions

Drawing faces can be overwhelming at first, but knowing the basic facial proportions can help a lot.

I recommend starting with a front view of the face (no perspective) to make things easy.

To make quick progress learn these basic proportions that apply to almost every face:

basic facial proportions

• the face can be divided into three parts of equal size:
forehead (hairline to brow line)
nose (brow line to bottom of nose)
mouth and chin (bottom of nose to bottom of chin)

• the face is about 5 eyes wide

• the sides of the mouth line up with the center of the pupils

• the nose fits between the eyes (width)

• the height of the ears and nose are the same

• the lip line is about one third of the way between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin

These rules obviously don’t apply 100% to every face on earth. But they are very good rules of thumb to help you draw more accurate faces.

16. Shadow Patterns in The Face

Knowing the basic shadow patterns that appear on the face can help you a lot in learning how to shade faces.

Check out my video that explains them all in detail:

A common beginner mistake is to draw eyes white.

In most scenarios, this doesn’t lead to the desired realistic drawing result.

Your eye drawings or paintings can make leaps and bounds if you use the following drawing trick:

Shade the eyes like a ball with a light grey tone and leave only a small rectangle or circle completely white (the reflection).

The eyes won’t look too dark if you draw the surrounding values right. And the reflection will make them look really shiny/wet because they’re the brightest element in the composition.

18. Make The Upper Lip Darker Than the Lower Lip

In the most usual lighting situations, a person is lit from above or at a slight angle from above.

That leads to the upper lip being darker than the lower lip.

The upper lip turns away from the light while the lower lip receives more of it.

Moreover, the upper lip often casts a shadow on the lower lip, so you have to consider that too.

Value Drawing Tips

19. Use A Full Range Of Value

The human eye craves contrast. It’s a basic element of design and it applies to drawing and painting, too.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a full range of values (brightness).

Just compare these two images.

The left one looks washed out while the right one jumps off the page/screen and looks appealing.

Click here, If you want to learn more about values.

20. Paint The Darkest (Or Brightest) Parts First

Try to draw the darkest parts first when you’re starting to create an artwork.

This way you establish a value range and know the darkest and the brightest parts from the get-go.

Everything else falls in between.

When drawing on a dark surface it’s the other way round:

Draw the brightest parts first!

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21. Use High Contrast For Metal

Drawing metal can be challenging. After all, there are a lot of different kinds of metal with different amounts of reflection.

One key point is using high contrast.

Metal reflects its surroundings – sometimes directly. That leads to high contrasts in values.

Very bright tones (e.g. the reflection of a light source or the sky) can sit right next to very dark tones.

The edges of those values can differ from very harsh to very soft, depending on the degree of reflection the metal has.

Considering this can get you that much closer to painting realistic metal.

22. Consider A Backlight in Your Artworks

Using two light sources is a great strategy to create atmosphere in an artwork. It’s often done in film and portrait photography – and in painting as well.

A simple way to do this is to add a backlight.

Add a light source that is behind the subject and you can almost trace the contour of it with the color of the light. It’s also called rim light.

It’s an easy way to boost the depth and mood of a painting.

Just check out how much less atmospheric my drawing from above is without the backlight of the moon:

Try out this easy art tip to make your artworks look much more atmospheric.

Composition Art Tips

23. Plan Ahead

If you want to draw a finished piece of art, it can be really helpful to plan ahead.

Not all drawings and paintings are created equally:

Sometimes you just want to let your creativity loose and see where you end up. Some of the best artworks have been created that way.

But if you have a really big project in front of you, it may be much better to plan ahead.

You can do this by:

  • thinking about the size and orientation
  • doing composition sketches
  • doing value studies
  • doing color thumbnails

If you have a great idea for a painting in mind, but want to do it right, check out this in-depth guide on planning a painting.

24. Create A Focal Point

If there are too many competing elements in an artwork, the viewer doesn’t really know what to look at first.

This can create a frustrating viewing experience.

The best drawings and paintings have a clear focal point.

You can create a focal point with:

Watch the following video or check out the graphic below:

In essence, don’t make everything saturated/detailed/sharp, but just the important areas of a painting where you want the viewer’s attention to go.

25. Use The “Rule Of Thirds”

The “Rule of Thirds” is one of the most basic composition methods and it’s very effective.

Essentially, you divide your artwork into nine equally large parts and put the most important elements of your drawing on the intersection points of the lines.

Using this can immediately make your artworks more interesting – more interesting than putting the elements of your composition in random places.

In this drawing of Dr. Doom / The Fantastic Four several important elements of the drawing are put on the intersection points of the lines:

Dr. Doom’s and Mr. Fantastic’s hands and The Thing’s face.

Check out this helpful guide on how to use the rule of thirds.

Colin Wynn
the authorColin Wynn

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