online course

Paint a Portrait in Oils

Learn how to properly plan, set up, paint and finish a refined portrait in oils

All the preparation required for a  perfect portrait: posing, expression, lighting, background, photographing, sketching and more.

Paint along with every step and every stage. I show you how to create an underpainting, a colour block-in and will push through until the final tiny details.

A private online community is with you all the way. Post your work, your questions and comments in The Art Cafe and get feedback on your work in return. 

Learn colour mixing, painting without solvents (unless you want to), how to work with edges and working 'fat over lean'.  

5 Steps to a Perfect Portrait

Learn the 5 steps to a perfect portrait in this online video course. From initial setup and placement, to a value underpainting, a colour block-in, refinement and finish.  I show you every step of the way and you can paint along with your own portrait. Post your progress in our private online forum for feedback and support.




Six lessons on how to get ready to paint your portrait. We discuss how to pose your model, what expression to go for, background, clothing, and lighting. I will discuss how to photograph, sketch and how to choose the right reference photo.



Three lessons cover all the material needs: choosing canvas, brushes and paint. I discuss which colours to set up on your palette, whether you are a beginner or more experienced painter. We discuss how to position your model or reference image. We also cover what size to work at.



Now we dive in! Five lessons get you going with you portrait. I show you the benefits of painting thinly and in layers, and  I explain what 'fat over lean' means. We then start off by positioning our 'head' on the canvas and create a value underpainting.


Colour and Form

We cover up our value underpainting (yes, really!) with a colour block-in, which we will then refine further. Simple shapes get refined into smaller shapes and into 3-dimensional form. Three lessons.



Give your portrait your own personal creative spin by remembering your initial vision. Refine your portrait further by working on small detail, edges and colour. 



How do we know when a painting is finished? This age-old question gets answered in the final lesson. We apply the finishing touches to your painting.

This is an online video course

  • Watch the lessons in your own time and space
    You can watch the lessons wherever you like, from the comfort of your hown home or studio
  • Take the course as often as you like
    You can watch the lessons as often as you like
  • Each video lesson is about 10 minutes long
    A few lessons are a bit longer (17 mins) but most are around 10 mins. 
  • You need an internet connection
    You cannot download the lessons
  • There are 6 modules
    22 lessons in total (excl. the introduction lessons)

To get access to the Portrait in Oils course

Join Sophie’s Art School

Improve Your Painting Skills and Find a Supportive Community of Arty Folk

and enjoy a variety of online courses, montly workshops and more

£25 per month

About Sophie

Sophie Ploeg is an experienced art tutor and a professional artist. Her portrait paintings have been exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Pastel Society and the BP Portrait Award Exhibition.  She is self-taught and shares her practical approach to painting and drawing through courses and workshops.

Sophie’s painting techniques stem from trial and error, picking and choosing; over the years she developed her own techniques, often fed through selected bits and pieces from existing methods and approaches. She does not follow any particular school of thought but prefers to use painting techniques that are fun and ‘work’. 

Sophie’s paintings are realistic and full of atmosphere. They seem to echo traditional methods and style, but are painted in a modern and practical manner. Her work celebrates the beauty of every person and the heritage we all share.

Sophie's main website: