Watercolour faces and some people sketching articles

March 16, 2021 | 2 Comments

As I mentioned in my last article for OneWeek100Peope2021, after ‘drawing first’ most of last week, I switched back to my normal approach of ‘paint first’ on Friday. And as I was doing that, I started to think about the pigment characteristics of the various washes I was using and how they interacted as I placed them adjacent to each other. In particular how a ‘hair’ wash behaves when placed next to a ‘skin’ wash.

I thought it would be a good idea to do a test page and confirm my thoughts. So this is what you see here. The only one I have to be really careful about is using Transparent Red Oxide for hair – I have to make sure any skin washes are practically dry before I add the hair shape or else there will be a big mess!

My favourite part of using watercolour is exploring the interactions between pigments. I’m far more interested in creating what I call a ‘pigment party’ than I am in mixing exact colours. So it’s going to be really fun to revisit my Watercolour course – which now includes a bonus lesson all about how to understand different pigment characteristics and how to get the most out of them in our sketching.

In terms of ‘people sketching’ here are a few articles that address some of the questions raised last week in the comments here on the blog:

Also – I share a lot of tips on drawing people and including them in scenes during Lesson 3 of my Watercolour On Location course.



  • Jamie C says:

    What a great way to test those washes. I wonder how much of a difference it makes, also, which goes down first. If hair is put down first, would the skin wash then bleed into the hair instead, which might then look more like a normal forehead/hair line? Thinking out loud, as I’ve not painted people at all yet! You make it look so easy, I really must try one of these days!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Jamie – yes the order you put the washes on the page makes a huge difference! I rarely start with the hair shape (as I want to get the structure of the head done first) so all of these were skin wash first.

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