Shading Techniques Applied: Shading a Portrait

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My latest course on shading explains how to create realistic lighting using Photoshop. The beautiful part is that the information taught in the course applies to any subject and any medium. The shading techniques course is more than a slick demo or a Photoshop tutorial. It’s core, fundamental principles and concepts of realistic light and shadow.

In this article, I’ll demonstrate how to apply shading techniques to a portrait. See video below for a portrait shading demonstration from a recent ‘Draw With Chris’ Livestream. Photoshop is the medium used in the video. Oil paint is used in the demo for the text version below.


For complete, step by step breakdown, read on…

Portrait Shading Process

STEP 1: Smart observation

The first step is to make careful observation of the subject. In this case we have a female model with beautiful high contrast lighting. This lighting is the best for practicing shading, rendering and edge control. For more on lighting models and choosing reference, see this article on good lighting and choosing good reference.

shading techniques reference full
This image is perfect for studying and practicing shadow because of the beautiful high contrast light. The shadows are nice and dark and clearly defined.

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