how to paint your own watercolour portrait in 3 easy steps

We are really playing with watercolour here at Homeology this month, and I thought I’d experiment a bit with the medium in its most traditional form: on paper!

While I did go to art school, painting was NEVER my strong suit so I really want to encourage you to try this watercolour DIY – it really is incredibly easy and looks amazing!

You will need:

Watercolour paint

Watercolour paper

Carbon paper

Digital photo you’d like to paint

Step 1:

Posterize the photograph in Photoshop, or alternatively, go to Picmonkey and follow the easy instructions below after you’ve uploaded a picture.

1: click on effects

2: scroll all the way down the options and click on posterize

3: set number of colours to 2; detail to 100% and fade to 0%

Watercolour Portrait DIY Picmonkey

Step 2:

Watercolour Portrait DIY trace

Use carbon paper to trace the image onto the watercolour paper, focusing on all the dark areas. The image will look very strange once you’re done, but hang in there, it’s going to be awesome!

Step 3:

Watercolour Portrait DIY paint

 Now the fun starts! Choose a colour and start to paint all the areas that you outlined. Keep the posterized image handy as a reference in case you don’t know what is what anymore! Apply the paint and then wash it to spread, using water. You really don’t need a lot of paint, and washing it gives a lovely texture to the painting.

Watercolour Portrait DIY colour washing

That’s it, really! The whole process took me about 30 mins per portrait, and I am amazed at how well it came out. So go on, impress someone special and paint their picture in watercolour!

Watercolour Portrait DIY portrait 1 Watercolour Portrait DIY portrait 2

ALTERNATIVELY – if you are really overwhelmed by all of this, use a stencil to paint. I got this tools stencil at my local craft shop and it took about 5 mins to create this sweet little picture. The colours match my 2 portraits so they make a wonderful trio of gifts!

watercolour christmas DIY stenciling

Watercolour Portrait DIY wall of fame

Happy gifting!


This tutorial was inspired by a wonderful project I saw on Grow Creative. Check it out, there are some incredible projects! G x