This is another in the series of portraits of colleagues - those poor guinea pigs of my retirement art hobby.

Generating these is getting a little easier, because it is more formulaic:

  • note that these steps follow the “draw the rest of the fucking owl” meme and I’m sorry, but that’s how it is
  • wash the lightest flesh-tone over the entire face ears and neck except for the eyeballs
  • overlay red, violet, brown etc. to match the complexion and facial contours
  • add eye details until it looks like real eyes
  • add eyebrows
  • add ear details until it looks like a real ear
  • carefully add lip color until it looks like real lips
  • add facial hair - obviously not required for female portraits
  • add head hair
  • round out with neck and clothing approximations
  • stop - you’ll just make it worse since watercolor is unforgiving

Of importance is to accentuate the features that are distinctive for the face, in a kind-of caricature, but without too much exaggeration. In this Vasileios case, it is the upper lip pointed “V” shape, eyebrows and dominant mustache. I don’t know if anyone would recognize him if he was clean-shaven.

Color match is difficult. The original photograph was taken in shaded summer light, which gave him a more ruddy complexion than usual. So, I mostly ignored that, and instead went with my gut feeling of an olive skin base, with sun reddened highlights. It might have worked, but it could be a bit more vibrant with a little more courage on my part.

He asked, “With or without glasses?” and I said with, because he is rarely seen without them. This presents a slight challenge to get the shape correct in perspective. and I have to admit, I could have done a bit better. It is what it is.

Data Description
Title Vasileios
Artist Derrick Oswald
Medium Watercolour on acid-free, cellulose, fine-grained, natural-white paper
Dimensions (w × h cm) 29.7 × 42
Date 2023

watercolour of Vasileios

original photograph of Vasileios



A Canadian electrical engineer living in Switzerland, developing software for over 40 years, e.g. big data for electric distribution utilities and the cloud security space, but now retired.

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