Portrait Illustration: the Complete Guide to Digital Portrait Illustration

If you love to draw and paint, you might be interested in portraits. A portrait is a way to immortalize the people you love at a moment in time. While it's similar to a photograph, it's done in a medium that adds that extra something.

In some cases, you might be working on a project commissioned from an individual, or you're looking to give a loved one a unique gift. Modern technology can make it easy to create a digital portrait illustration.

With a digital portrait illustration, you can share your work with the world online or send it to a loved one as a gift. Here's everything you need to know about digital portrait illustration.

What is a portrait illustration?

A portrait illustration is a visual representation of a person done through a variety of mediums. One of the most famous portrait illustrations is the Mona Lisa painted on canvas by Leonardo da Vinci.

A portrait illustration isn't necessarily supposed to be as lifelike as a photograph, but it does need to be recognizable as the person portrayed in the portrait. You wouldn't want to create a piece of impressionism or surrealism art and call it a portrait.

Most artists create portraits from real life, such as having a living model pose for them. The model sits for hours each day while the artist does their work in paints, pencils, or pastels. You can also create a portrait from a photograph of the subject.

Portrait illustration is one of the oldest types of art, and it's been very popular throughout the centuries. There are entire art museums dedicated to portrait illustrations.

How to make a digital portrait

You might be wondering if making a digital portrait is the same as making a traditional one. Actually, making a digital portrait can be even easier. You can work from a photograph and trace it.

You don't need to be Leonardo da Vinci to make a gorgeous portrait in the modern world. It doesn't even require years of learning how to draw or paint. Here are a few steps for making a digital portrait:

  1. Select a photo and upload it to your computer or tablet: You need to use a photo of high resolution. It's also a good idea to make sure that the subject is isolated and clearly defined.
  2. Open your software program and place the photo: CorelDRAW is one of the best drawing software on the market.
  3. Create a new layer on top of the photo and trace the photo.
  4. Create a new layer underneath the traced layer and add a skin tone to the traced outline.
  5. Add shadows and highlights.
  6. When you're happy with the portrait, save and share the file.

You can easily make a digital portrait with the right software even if you don't feel like you're an artist.

What you need

The nice thing about digital portrait illustration is that you don't need a lot of items to let your creativity shine through. Here are a few of the things you need to work on your digital portrait:

You can get started on your digital portrait in a few minutes. You also don't need to invest a lot of money like you would need to with paint and canvas.


Portrait illustration is one of the oldest art forms. You can take part in this art form without investing a lot of money in art classes or supplies. The digital revolution has made it easier than ever to highlight your creativity and create portraits to share online or gift to family members.

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