Raheem Nelson

Featured Illustration: Lupita Nyong’o

Welcome to my blog! I this post I will be talking about my process of painting Lupita Nyong’o.

Last month I got got the itch to create another realistic portrait. After much deliberation I went with Lupita Nyong’o from 12 Years A Slave. Portraits like this take time so I always pick my subjects very carefully. It just seemed like a good choice and I wanted to add another African American woman to my portfolio. After finding the reference photo I quickly got to work. I always start with a few basic sketches to get the anatomy right. This part is paramount for the entire process which is why I take extra time at this step. After several hours I start breaking up the face and body into individual shapes. I guess I’ll call it color mapping.

This makes painting the figure a lot easier. After that I block in all of the colors and blend using a variety of brushes in Procreate. Little flourishes like light and texture to the skin are added later. These steps are the most time consuming and take patience. It’s all about capturing the person’s likeness and getting all of the small details right. That’s how it appears photo like. I wouldn’t call my work hyper-realistic and I’m not even sure if I would want to attempt that but I’m happy that the thumbnails appear that way. It’s important to me that even though I created the art on an iPad that I never lose that human component. All in all I’m very happy with what I’m able to achieve as an artist. Now I have to get this as a canvas print. Painting inspired by an article on Forbes.

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