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Painting Portraits in Acrylics


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Table of Contents

Starting out
The Robot
Ideas and planning
A face that tells a story
Age & Experience
Painting skin
Full Length Portrait
Painting self portraits
Self portrait
Going further
Choosing a face
Attitude and expression
Young Girl
Portrait in profile

About the Author

Hashim Akib is an internationally renowned artist and is represented by several galleries in the UK. He has exhibited with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, New English Art Club and Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries in London. Before becoming an artist, Hashim worked as an illustrator for 15 years. His clients included the likes of Times Newspapers, The Telegraph, Time Magazine and New Yorker Magazine.

Hashim has taught his unique techniques to art schools in the UK, Italy and France. His first book, Vibrant Acrylics, was published by Search Press in 2012 and has now been translated into French, German, Italian and Dutch.


'Exciting' is not normally a word springs to mind when discussing books on portraiture. 'Thorough', maybe, or 'comprehensive' - what you are mostly looking for is something that describes working methods clearly and illustrated the type of people you can relate to. This, though, is something different. Hashim Akib captures likenesses well, but he also introduces a sense of character, personality and presence through his trademark dynamic brushwork. It would be all too easy for this to fall wide of the mark, becoming mannered, or maybe too individual to have more general appeal. Instead, and this is down to his very considerable technical expertise, the book makes you want to get started and even to try Hashim's own demonstrations - they're people you feel you'd really like to meet. Excitement on its own would not be enough, of course, so be assured that this is thorough and comprehensive as well.

* The Artist *

Hashim has yet again written a bold exciting and informative book. His colour use is just perfectly shown. He explains how to paint portraits so well that it makes it so much easier to attempt. It makes painting so much fun and lets artists go for it, in a controlled, but free way. I have learnt so much reading this book and will be painting this way with excitement ahead. Wow, thanks.

-- Melanie Bettridge * Customer review *

Being a huge fan of Hash's style, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of this latest book and was not disappointed. This is a great book for getting an insight into an artist's process, it's like having a personal workshop which you can keep referring back to.
Acrylics are not the obvious medium choice for portraiture but the strong and dynamic style Hashim uses is both inspiring and contemporary. He makes it look so simple and easy!

There are several step by step examples to guide you, from initial planning though the sculptural painting process, lots of hints and tips, and insights into making portrait painting loose but exciting. From lighting and expressions to mark making, Hashim explains in detail his method and the materials used.

The biggest setback to a beginner or the casual hobby artist, is the confidence required to use the paint so freely, and have the observation skills required to get the best results, hopefully this book will inspire you to take the large leap of faith and try it. So if you are a beginner looking for different ways in which to tackle the complex area of portraiture or somebody more advanced wanting to experiment with or change to a more colourful and loose approach, I would urge everyone to get this book, have a go and try emulating this style.

-- Michelle Tilston Fletcher * Customer review *

FACE FACTS Learn the basics of portraiture and how to unleash your own painting techniques with this guide by artist Hashim Akib

Rather than taking a formal learning approach in his book, artist and author Hashim Akib explains useful portrait painting concepts while also encouraging you to explore your own style.

It opens with an introduction to tools and materials, before setting aside chapters to compositional exercises, colour theory and detailed painting tutorials. So far, so familiar.

But this book's selling point is that it knows it's a jumping-off point for further experimentation.

Hobbyists will benefit from the advice on paint application and colour mixing, while experienced artists will appreciate the technical know-how on display in the step-by-step guides. The final chapters show you how to push what you've learnt even further with lessons on texture, profiles and unusual expressions.

As Hashim says in his introduction, photography has had a huge impact on portraiture. With this in mind, his guide is a valuable exploration of how contemporary portraiture can still be relevant today, and what you need to consider if you want to create engaging paintings with personality.

Working from one reference photo, Hashim Akib explains how he paints skin tones and uses just a few extra brush marks to describe the face.

For this portrait piece, Hashim uses earthy and dark neutrals, which frame the warmer colours.

-- Chris Allcock * Imagine Fx *

This is the most exciting book I've ever seen about portrait painting. Hashim's paintings are dynamic and full of life. They're about as are removed from the often stuffy canvases you see on the walls of institutions as it's possible to get.

Most books on portraiture concentrate on technique and getting a likeness. Frankly, if you want that, you should probably stick to photography. What painting can do is express character and provide an inner vision that gives a sense of presence, and that's here in profusion.

I wouldn't want you to think there's nothing here about technique-there's plenty of it, but it's bound up with actual paintings that show how things work in practice, rather than theory. There is, for example, a very handy section on facial features- eyes, noses and mouths. Hashim still manages to tell you more about the differences between men and women and racial types than you'll find in many other books.

So, you see, this is a book that teaches by example-and what examples! Every kind of face is here and there are quite a few different styles of painting too, including some startling uses of colour.

It's that kind of book. I've often spoken about the ones which will have you itching to get out your brushes and this is another example of them. Even if you've never painted a portrait in your life, you can't help feeling your feet starting to tap and wanting to get up and dance with Hashim.

* Paint Magazine *

"Exciting" isn't normally a word I'd associated with portraiture. "Thorough", "lifelike", maybe even "vibrant", but it's not normally a subject to get the pulses racing.

This, though, is astounding. Hashim's style is quite blocky and, if you were looking for almost photographic realism, this is not for you. You actually have to look at the finished results for a few seconds before the features of the faces emerge. When they do, however, they're full of character and these are people whose presence you can feel. This is something that all portrait painters strive for, but it's one of the most difficult qualities to achieve. If personality is your goal, place your order now.

I think it also helps that Hashim appears simply to like people. I don't think it would be possible to get results like this if you simply regarded your subjects as a job. There's a warmth here, and an understanding of the life and light behind mere structure and outward appearance. This isn't really something that can be taught, so I'd suggest you might simply want to learn from example here - don't expect a magic ingredient.

In practical terms, the book offers all the variety you could want. There are male and female figures, different hair styles and skin colours and a wide range of ages. Hashim explains colour, lighting and perspective and he's also rather good on the main features - eyes, noses, ears, etc. Here, his style is your friend as its vibrancy makes what is inevitably a rather technical section interesting and - well - exciting.

-- Henry Malt * Art Book Review *

Like most painters, I find painting portraits challenging. I found this book very interesting because for me it has a new approach. Treating the face like blocks. Akib tells us to beware of realism. This book enables you to master the essentials and capture the atmosphere, the character. It's worth looking at no matter what your skill, for the treatment is quite different. Plenty of examples, male, female, young, old. Follow the 6 varied step-by-step projects. Faces, features and even full length portraits are covered. I particularly like the unusual expressions pages and the way they were presented. One thing of note, I found I liked the older style and not his new way of using very thick paint, but that is just personal preference and it is good to experiment and try different styles and ways of using paint. Also close-ups are not how the paintings will appear when viewed on a wall. I cannot believe it is 7 years since his last book, what a lot he has achieved.

-- Karen Platt * Amazon *

Painting Portraits in Acrylics is a practical guide to contemporary portraiture by Hashim Akib. Award-winning artists Hashim Akib's striking portraits are at the heart of this inspirational book. Hash's easy-going, unpretentious style puts fantastic results within the reach of hobby artists and aspiring professionals alike. Assuming nothing and starting from the basics, making it suitable even for the enthusiastic beginner, this book includes six step-by-step projects to follow, along with friendly but in-depth advice on colour palettes, skin tone, composition, working from photographs and models, mark making, lighting; atmosphere and much more. The book covers many types of portraiture from the self-portrait to full-length portraits, all presented in Hash's striking, free and contemporary style.

* Leisure Painter *

Starting from the basics, award-winning artist Hashim Akib shows you how to paint portraits in acrylics with an engaging and easy-to-follow style. Covering all styles of portraiture, from self-portraits to full-length portraits, the book includes six step-by-step projects to follow. These provide in-depth advice on colour palettes, skin tones, composition and lighting as well as how to work from photographs and models, plus much more. The book is aimed at beginners, but there's plenty for the more proficient artist to enjoy here.

* The Artist *

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