I painted a stylized portrait of Merlin–and here’s how it went down

The months following May 2020 was a difficult time for me. Because not only was the country under community quarantine, but I was also unemployed and grieving the death of my beloved dog Kia. But one thing that helped me get through it all was spending time at home, binge-watching Netflix with my mom. And one of the TV shows that helped me get through this trying time was the 2008 BBC show Merlin

Thanks to the streaming platform, I was able to watch all five seasons of this awesome series.

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Now, there’s so much I can say to describe how obsessed I am with this fantasy show–but I’ll have to save all that for another blog post. This time around, I wanted to fangirl by creating a stylized portrait of the series’s titular character, Merlin (which was played by actor Colin Morgan). 

Here’s how I came about doing it:

On sketching 

First and foremost, I am by no means a professional artist; I just paint as a personal hobby. So given this, there are a few imperfections that I still have to improve on as a painter–many of which I hope to apply in future projects. 

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In this particular piece, I started off with a rough sketch of the character’s facial features on a sheet of A5 canvas paper. Then, I went on to mix different shades of acrylic paint to begin painting. 

I started with the character’s face as it would require the most attention to detail. Then, I proceeded to do the hair and apply highlights to both areas. 

The left image shows the rough sketch of my portrait, while the right photo shows my initial painting of the face.

I also decided not to follow my initial sketch and create a bigger set of eyes for a more “caricature”–like appearance. 

On mixing colors 

This was probably one of the hardest parts of painting because I had to try and get the closest possible colors to the one shown in the reference photo. 

This is a photo of the completed stylized portrait beside its reference picture. Color of the image might look different due to lighting.

I admit, this required a lot of trial and error, but I do believe that I was able to mix the right light and dark shades for the skin, hair, and the clothing. 

On shading  

Finding the right tones to use on the shadows of the character’s face was a bit difficult to do, as well. I had to experiment with varying degrees of black and gray shades to get the desired color. Then, I had to blend those in with some light dabbing strokes using my paintbrush. 

Here’s a close-up version of my stylized portrait.

The end result may not be totally perfect but I am definitely happy with the outcome of my painting. And hopefully, in the near future, I’ll get to paint other characters too like Arthur, Morgana, Guinevere, and Gaius. 

Until then, I hope you give Merlin a try–and who knows, you may even end up enjoying it as much as I did.

Via Giphy

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