Morgan Freeman Masterpiece

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on a pop art portrait of Morgan Freeman. The assignment was to pick a picture of a pop culture figure that had some interest- so that it wasn’t just a headshot – and to turn it into a monochromatic painting. I decided to pick Morgan Freeman because I admire his skills as an actor but also his personality (I mean, he narrated a lemur documentary!). Also, I found a pretty good picture of him that had good composition and would make a great painting. This time I wasn’t able to take very many pictures of the painting in progress this time, because my phone’s storage was full and I wasn’t able to take pictures. However, there are still plenty of photos to enjoy.


This is the original photo. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve seen the original photo, so looking at this picture after so much time working on a pop art picture is a bit funny.

In Photoshop, the picture was altered using a tool called Posterize, which divided the picture into 5 values which I could trace and fill in with respective colors. Essentially, this was a paint-by-numbers project.


I printed out and divided the image into a 7.2 x 10.9 in. grid so that it would be easier to draw a rough draft. The paper on which I drew was double the size of the picture, so every 1-inch increment on the picture was 2 inches on the paper. I also outlined and numbered the different shapes created by the differences in values.


Then, I began to draw and number my rough draft. This is the part where I’m missing pictures.

Above is the finished rough draft. Believe me when I say it took FOREVER. Another thing I don’t have pictures of is transferring my rough draft onto a canvas which I used for my final piece. I took a stick of graphite and rubbed it on the back of the rough draft so as to form a thin layer of graphite. Then I taped the rough draft onto the canvas and retraced my drawing so that the graphite would be rubbed onto the canvas and a copy was created.

Since this project was supposed to be a monochromatic painting, I had to pick a color to paint with. I decided to use blue-violet, a color that I feel represents Freeman’s personality. This painting was created with tempura, not acrylic (sad face), which is hard to work with and difficult to mix effectively. First, I mixed blue and violet, then seperated the resulting paint into 5 cups. To create the 5 different values, I used 4 tints, adding varying degrees of white paint to each cup and one shade, adding a small amount of black (Black will turn a color dark very quickly, so it’s best to not use a lot). Here are a couple pictures of me in the process of painting.


So there you go! The finished product. Unfortunately, when I got to transferring and painting, some of the original detail was lost or wasn’t added. I wish I could have had more time to work on this, but I’m pretty proud of it as it is.

What do you think? Does it look like Morgan Freeman? Be sure to comment with your opinion. Coming up, I’ve also finished some more Voltron fan art which I’ll be sure to post soon. I hope you’ve enjoyed this project as much as I have!


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