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Drawing Lesson 18, Part 1 – La Bella Principessa

La Bella Pricipessa – Red Pencil Drawing

Video Lesson Description

In this video lesson, you will discover the creative process of making the La Bella Pricipessa portrait in red pencil and white wash on toned paper.

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La Bella Principessa – Preliminary drawing

I named this artwork, “La Bella Principessa“, because it portrays a young, beautiful lady in profile. She has a very calm and thoughtful look that resonates with another famous portrait with the same name attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. The authorship of the original “La Bella Principessa” masterpiece is still debated. Depending on the author, it is priced between 19 thousand dollars and 150 million dollars.

The original “La Bella Principessa” is drawn on vellum, which is made from specially prepared calfskin. The original yellowish-orange skin tone of vellum plays an important role in this artwork. It gives a natural look to the background and compliments the colours of her face.


La Bella Principessa
A pencil sketch of the La Bella Pricipessa artwork is done first on a white sheet of drawing paper. This drawing will be transferred onto toned watercolour paper. For this task, I will use tracing paper. This transfer technique will produce a reverse mirror image. I want the lady on the portrait to end up looking to the left; therefore, this preliminary sketch needs to be reversed, so the lady initially looks to the right.

I am making the La Bella Pricipessa’s head outline in very thin pencil strokes. Until I have finalised the proportions and geometry of the head, bold lines are not required.


La Bella Principessa - Drawing Academy Video Lesson
La Bella Pricipessa is depicted in profile. Her arm is bent at the elbow and resting on the big decorative roses of her high-fashion dress. Her pose is relaxed yet shows her forward-looking attention.

La Bella Pricipessa’s hand is half closed as if she is picking at the rose on her dress. Several video lessons on the topic of how to draw human hands are available through the Drawing Academy course.

Hands are often a very difficult subject for beginners. To overcome the challenge of depicting realistic looking hands, you need to know its bones and muscle anatomy, as well as, the rules of hand’s proportions; these topics are covered in depth in the dedicated Drawing Academy video lessons.

I will use toned watercolour paper as the support for the same reason. The warm tint of the paper will be the base camertone for the whole artwork.

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