7 Medium For Portraits: Find Your Perfect Painting Medium

7 Medium For Portraits: Find Your Perfect Painting Medium

The beauty of a painting is that it captures the real essence of the subject.

However, the most important aspect that we forget is the painting medium.

Whether you’re an artist or a customer, you must be aware of which medium suits you the best.

Every artist is unique and so are the customer’s requirements.

For a painter, it is important to know which art medium they can excel at.

Similarly, a customer should understand the kinds of medium in art before commissioning any painting.

With this said, here’s what you need to know about different mediums for paintings (pros and cons included).

Oil Paint Medium

Photo to Oil Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Do you know that all of the world’s most famous artworks are made using oil paint as a medium?

Whether you’re an experienced artist or looking for custom paintings, you can always go ahead with the oil painting medium.

However, before going for a painting with oil medium, take a look at its pros and cons.

Family painting from different photos

Pros of Oil Paints:

  • Art can look rich, royal, and prominent
  • Can capture small details
  • High at adaptability
  • It looks great with any finishing options—framed, rolled, or gallery roll
  • The outcomes can be museum-quality
  • Portraits last for decades 

Cons of Oil Paint:

  • It takes weeks to dry
  • Can be expensive and smelly
  • It requires expertise to clean an oil painting
  • Susceptible to humidity and direct sunlight
Oil Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Despite the cons mentioned, there is no doubt that artworks produced with oil paint medium are unmatchable, timeless, and incredible!

Acrylic Paint Medium

Expecting a result similar to oil paint medium? Look no further than acrylics.

It offers almost similar benefits, but there are some differences between them, which you can read in detail in this blog—oil vs. acrylic paint portraits.

Photo to Acrylic Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Speaking of acrylic art medium, it’s a new form of paint medium that is in high demand and comparably more affordable.

Let’s see some benefits and drawbacks of acrylic paints.

Pros of Acrylic Paints:

  • Shorter dry time
  • It’s affordable and doesn’t smell like oil paint
  • Versatile in nature, it conveniently blends with water
  • Brushes can easily be cleaned
  • It last a little longer if taken necessary precautions
  • Less harmful and safer around children and pets

Cons of Acrylic Paints:

  • It dries fast so you need to work promptly
  • Artwork collects dust and form grime on short notice
  • It requires extra attention while cleaning the acrylic paint 
  • Pigments become darker when whey is dry, so it won’t look the same as how you left it
Acrylic Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Importantly, acrylic paints are durable; it is rare to see acrylic portraits turn yellow, dull, or cracked.

(Suggested: 10 Pet Portrait Painters)

Watercolor Medium

Watercolor is the first medium of painting ever introduced to our generation.

Photo to Watercolor Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

If you’re a beginner or have just started off on your artistic path, you can go ahead with the watercolor medium.

You won’t require anything else except soft bristle brushes and a piece of paper!

To get a clearer understanding of the watercolor medium, let me shed some light on its upsides and downsides.

Pros of the Watercolor Medium:

  • Easily clean your palette
  • Doesn’t pass odor like oil medium
  • Budget-friendly 
  • Dried paint brushes can be reused
  • Watercolor artwork are portable and easy to clean

Cons of the Watercolor Medium:

  • Can bleed or spread across the canvas if not blended with water appropriately
  • It takes enough time to dry
  • Blunders or silly errors can’t be undone on watercolor
  • Require a specific type of paper
Watercolor Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Pro tip: While painting with watercolor, always prefer light colors over dark ones. 

Watercolor is a great medium for paintings to be commissioned as well as to paint.

Pastel Medium

Pastels are of two types—oil and soft.

Oil and soft Pastel Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Art in the oil pastel medium is expressive and refreshing. Whereas soft or chalk pastels create different effects of smudging.

Here’s what you need to take into account:

DifferenceOil PastelsSoft Pastels
TypeBright shadesMuted colors
QualityEasy to blend and produce rich and vibrant colorsNot easy to blend and colors can be muted
VarietyLimited Limited

You know the difference between oil and soft pastels; now, it’s your choice

Writer’s tip: If you want to produce pastel art with minimal effort, then pick soft pastels, as they’re the best medium for painting that gives expressive and beautiful results. 

Or else you can…

Charcoal Medium

Photo to Charcoal Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Charcoal is a medium mostly used to create portrait art.

As time went on, the medium saw transitions, and painters started making charcoal house portraits, human sketches, and others.

Here are some positive and negative aspects of the charcoal medium:

Pros of the Charcoal Medium:

  • Offers a classic look
  • Easy to smudge
  • Affordable, reliable, and portable
  • Can easily erase charcoal

Cons of the Charcoal Medium:

  • You can’t create accurate images 
  • It can never compete with colors

Whether you want to draw a pet, a human, or any other form of art, you can use charcoal the way you want.

Charcoal Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

If you want to gift it to someone special or are too tired to draw it on your own, you can even order a compilation charcoal sketch from us.

Pencil Medium

Whether you’re a beginner or a domain expert, you love the pencil art medium. Don’t you?

Photo to Pencil Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Capturing the tiniest details of subjects is what makes the pencil medium such a sought after medium for art.

For your understanding, I’m sharing some pros and cons of using pencil medium for artwork.

Pros of Pencil Medium:

  • Conveniently draw details
  • Affordable and portable
  • Erasable, eco-friendly and reliable
  • Great shelf-life
  • Add depth and shades
  • It can be used on any paper type

It doesn’t have too many cons except that it requires regular sharpening, and smudging might take a little time depending on its tip (how sharp or pointed it is).

Pencil Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

Colored Pencil Medium

The most dynamic and versatile art medium available on the market is colored pencils.

It doesn’t require a proper setup. You can sit in any corner or anywhere idle and start painting with this medium.

Color Pencil Painting as Best Medium for Portraits

But no paint medium can be perfect. With this said, let’s discuss its pros and cons.

Pros of Colored Pencil Medium:

  • Can be detailed and expressive
  • Easy to set up and erasable
  • Affordable and highly portable
  • Creates bold, opaque, and luminance effect
  • It’s a low maintenance

Cons of Colored Pencil Medium:

  • Easy to blend but takes time to get perfect and desirable texture
  • Time-consuming as it covers small areas in one stroke
  • Erasing or removing colors can be annoying
  • Requires sharpening at short intervals

In my opinion, colored pencils make a rewarding artistic medium, but they usually take more time than any other medium for painting.

It may require immense patience and dedication.

Pro tip: Start off by using light to dark colors.

My Favorite Medium

I hope the doubt of “which would be the best medium for my portrait” has been cleared. 

I’m not a painter, but if I get a chance to commission a painting, it will definitely be in oil or charcoal medium.

And my one-stop platform is PortraitFlip.

It is one of the best online painting services worldwide, with a 4.7-star Trustpilot rating.

They offer all seven mediums at the best price in the industry.

Their high-quality work gives a personal touch and intimacy to your artwork.

You just witness them. How? All the painting displayed above were of PortraitFlip’s. Amazing, right?

Whether you’re a customer or an aspiring artist, you can get the best outcome here.

After all, the most beautiful thing about art is the art itself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the best medium for portraits?

Oil medium stands true to time and produces the best realistic looking portraits of all time.

Q2. Is oil the best medium to get a solo portrait?

A solo portrait is meant to focus only on the solo element of the painting. Eg: If you get a solo portrait of a dog, the painting should look so realistic in nature that it would look 3D. The best medium for a solo portrait is oil and acrylic.

Q3. Is pastel the best medium for portrait?

The pastel medium is best suited for portrait paintings that have various characters.

Q4. How much does a medium painting cost?

Each painting medium has a different price. Oil medium starts at $149, whereas charcoal medium comes only at a starting price of $89. You can opt according to your preferences and budget.

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