Artist demonstration: how to make a simple Pop art portrait

Pop art is a style of art based on bold and bright colours. Follow artist Venessa Scott as she shows you how to make a simple Pop art portrait that really pops!


  • Hi, I’m Venessa. I’m an artist, and I’m going to show you how to make a Pop art portrait.

    Pop art is a style of art that’s based on simple, bold and bright colours. Like this portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which is by the very well-known Pop art artist Andy Warhol.

    I’m going to show you how to make a Pop art portrait using things you may already have.

    All you’ll need is paper, a pencil, an image to trace, colourful crayons, a light box if you have one, or a window if you don’t.

    You can create Pop art of anyone or anything. But for my Pop art portrait, I’m going to use this image of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor because I really like the colours and the shapes.

    Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a British composer and activist.

    This portrait, painted in 1881, shows Coleridge-Taylor when he was around seven years old.

    In this portrait, the artist Walter Wallis used oils. But I’m going to use colourful crayons in my Pop art portrait.

    The first thing I do when creating a Pop art portrait is first find my image that I'm inspired by and then using a piece of paper, a pencil and a light source, I trace the outline.

    Now I’m using this light box to help me trace the outline. But if you don’t have a light box, that's fine. You can always use a window and some tape. Tape your image and your paper to the window and then use the light from the sun to help you trace your image.

    When the light shines behind this picture, it helps me see the outline that I need to trace.

    Now to find an image that you want to trace, you could look in books or magazines, or you could even use a photo of yourself.

    Once you’ve finished tracing your outline, move your tracing away from the light source. And now get yourself a black pen and we’re going to trace over our pencil outline with the black pen.

    And that’s it, my outline’s done. Now, one thing you could do, is use our black pen to fill in any areas that might be shadowed, like inside the nostrils, inside the ears and the eyes.

    Once you’ve finished the outlines and the pen is dry, we can use a rubber to erase any pencil outlines that might still be there.

    Now, for my favourite part of the Pop art portrait process, it’s time to choose the colours.

    Now I find it useful to use a separate piece of paper, just scrap paper, to test out which colours I’m going to use.

    I usually try and decide on four or five, sometimes six colours. I like to choose really bright colours, so that when the colours are next to each other, the Pop art really pops.

    And once you’ve decided on your colours, you're happy with them, you’re ready to start colouring in your portrait.

    Now, usually with crayons, we tend to colour like this, really light. Which is great. But if you want a really bold colour, try colouring in circles like this. And you can already see how much bolder it is.

    Now you can add colour wherever you like, but if you’ve got two separate areas next to each other, try and use a different colour.

    There’s really no rule to colouring in. This is your Pop art portrait.

    Now I’ve finished the face, I'm going to move on to the next bit. But if your hand gets a bit tired, you can take a break.

    Once you’ve finished colouring in all the parts of the person in your image, pick a really bright colour for the background.

    I’m going to choose green. And that’s how you create a Pop art portrait.

    Now, remember, there are no right or wrong ways to do this.

    Just give it a go and have fun.

Learning objectives

  1. Pick up tips from a portrait artist.
  1. Discover how to recreate the Pop art style.
  1. Be inspired to create a Pop art portrait.

You will need

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • A portrait to trace
  • Light box or window and tape
  • Crayons