How to Paint a Portrait with System3 Acrylics

Learn to paint a loose, expressive portrait with artist Rachel Christopoulos and Daler-Rowney System3 Acrylics! Get Rachel’s top tips for drawing and sketching faces, learn how to layer acrylic colors to create highlights and shadows, and discover how using a non-traditional color palette results in...


1. Choose a part of the face, like the mouth and nose, and sketch it out.

2. Paint the darkest areas first with Warm Grey.

3. Decide on your base color, then add white to create a highlight color and a dark blue to create a shadow color.

4. Once you’ve mixed this group of three, you can start layering them onto your sketch.

5. Use Cadmium Red to paint every part of the lips. Over this, add a layer of pink, being careful not to completely cover the red. Finally, use a very pale pink to paint the top or middle of the lip.

6. For the teeth, mix your Warm Gray with Titanium White to make a medium blue. Paint a thin line under the lip. Add another thin layer of lighter blue to the front teeth. Finish by adding white to the two front teeth.

7. Using the 3-color mixing method, mix Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow Hue, and Process Magenta to create a peachy skin tone color and apply to the face.

8. Layer colors in your portrait by adding darker and lighter versions of the peach paint. You can do this by mixing Cyan Blue or Process Magenta into your base color.

9. Use the new alternative hue to add pops of color to your portrait.

10. Keep adding white as you work your way to the highlight. Use Titanium White sparingly to add highlights to the brightest points of the face, like the tip of the nose or curve of the lips.