How to Paint Baby Portraits

Painting a portrait requires knowledge of how to paint with your preferred painting medium and practice. Painting a portrait of a baby is a challenging task due to the different proportions of a baby and the challenges of using a realistic style.

Painting a portrait of a baby requires practice.

The only way to learn and practice is to sit in front of your canvas and start painting.

  1. Look at the photographed picture of the baby. Take your time studying the position of the baby’s hands, feet, head and body. Note the expression on the baby’s face and even the smallest details like eyelashes and dimples.

  2. Lightly sketch the image in pencil on the canvas. Refer to the photograph as you draw and press down gently on the pencil, so the lines are light. Erase accidental lines or anything that does not look the same as the baby in the picture. Try to get the image as accurate as possible. Only work on the outlining without any shading when working in pencil.

  3. Spray the canvas with hairspray. Hairspray helps keep your pencil from smearing or mixing with the paint. The pencil is designed to make the image as realistic as possible and give you fine lines to work with, but it can change the quality of your paint or the color of your paint in the case of lighter colors.

  4. Start painting the image. Paint using the light colors on the bottom and work up to darker colors. For example, if you are painting a baby in full color, you might start with a pale, almost white color for the highlights of the skin. When the paint dries, layer over the top of the lightest color with the next lightest, which might be a darker peach color. Follow through the darkest shading, such as a semi-tan color to show shadows. Always refer to the baby’s picture for accurate coloration of skin tone and to determine appropriate light direction.

  5. Rinse your brushes in clean water to remove excess paint between colors. Wipe the brush on a cloth to remove the excess water and then use another color. If you want a glazed effect with the paint, such as creating a light shining on the baby, mix water into the paint to thin it and then apply the paint.

  6. Work in small sections for the best results. For example, if you are painting the face, focus just on the face and wait to work on the background until you are ready to allow the face of the baby to dry.

  7. Add finishing touches only when the portrait is almost complete and you are satisfied with the end result.

  8. Tip

    Use acrylic paints. Oil paints take a long time to dry and potentially smudge or smear. If you want to use oil paints, take your time to practice using the oil paints before starting on the portrait. Mix your own paints. While ready-mix colors are available in stores, mixing your own colors allows you to get the perfect shade you prefer. Use your basic blue, red, yellow, white and black to get almost any preferred color. Add a few extra paints if you prefer, but make some of the paints through mixing rather than buying all of them.