How to Mix Skin Tones


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How to Mix Skin Tones in Paint

Each complexion contains the three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) in different proportions, depending on the lightness or darkness of the skin, whether the skin is light or dark, and where the skin is on the body. Thinner skin, such as at the temples, tends to be cooler, while skin at the tip of the nose and on the cheeks and forehead tends to be a warmer hue. As in any painting, there is no magic secret or a perfect "flesh" color, because each color depends on the adjacent color. The most important thing is the relationship between the color and the values ​​between them.

Also, skin tones vary widely, so avoid the so-called "flesh" colored paint tubes that are available or use them knowing that they are obviously extremely limited and will only serve as a base, to mix with others. Fully capture the hues and shades of real skin tones. These tube-shaped meat dyes are made from a combination of red, yellow, and blue pigments.

Basic approach

Start by mixing equal parts of the three primary colors to create a base color to work with. It will be brownish in color. Starting from that color, you can adjust the color ratio to make it brighter or darker, warmer or cooler. You can also add titanium white to tint it.

When painting a portrait or figure, it is best to combine the colors in the same way that you do when painting a landscape or a still life. That is, to look at the shape of the color, mix it into your palette and hold your brush over your model or photo to gauge how close it is to the color you actually see. Then ask yourself the following three questions. Your answer will help you decide what color to add to get closer to the color you actually see.

  • Should it be darker or lighter? If it needs to be lighter, you can add white or yellow. White will cool it down and make it more opaque. Yellow will make it warmer. You can darken it with a burnt shadow, black, or chromatic black (viridian plus alizarin crimson or ultramarine plus burnt sienna).
  • Should it be warmer or colder? Add a blue (or white if it needs to be lighter too) to cool it down, warm red or yellow to make it warmer.
  • Should it be more or less saturated? Add a bit of your opposite color to make the color more neutral.

You can also include earth tones in your palette, such as burnt shadow (brown), burnt sienna (reddish brown), and yellow ocher ("dirty" yellow), some even include black, but remember that these colors can be created by mixing the three colors. primary together.

The exact colors and methods used to create skin tones vary from artist to artist, and there are many possible color combinations you can use. Only you can finally know which color combination is right for you.

Color palettes to create flesh colors.

  1. Titanium White, Light Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber
  2. Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Light Cadmium Red
  3. Titanium White, Medium Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber
  4. Titanium White, Medium Cadmium Yellow, Medium Cadmium Red, Cerulean Blue, Burnt Amber
  5. Burnt Ombre, Raw Amber, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ocher, Titanium White, Mars Black
    Some artists use black sparingly on their skin tones, while others don't use it at all.

Flesh Tone 'Recipe'

Artist Monique Simoneau recommends a "recipe" for skin tones that can be adjusted according to the actual lightness or darkness of the skin tone.

1. Titanium white
2. Cadmium red light
3. Cadmium Yellow Medium
4. Yellow ocher
5. Burnt Siena
6. Burnt shadow
7. Ultramarine blue

For fair skin tones, use colors 1, 2, 3, and 5.
For medium skin tones, use 2, 3, 4, and 5.
For dark skin tones, use 2, 5, 6, and 7.

Create a color chain

Color strings are premixed strings of one color in different values. For example, if you were using cadmium red, you would start with cadmium red and slowly dye it by adding white, making several different discrete blends in one chain. Especially if you are working with oil paints, which take longer to dry, working in color strings allows you to quickly access and mix the right value and shade of paint that you want. You can also do this with acrylic if you are using a moisture-retaining palette. Making a color chain will show you how easily you can achieve subtle skin tones from a mixture of primary colors.

Tips for practicing blending skin tones

Practice mixing your own skin color. Mix the colors you see in your hand's highlights and shadows and apply them to your skin to see how close you are to the correct hue and value. (Use acrylic paint for this so you can easily wash it off.) Or print several large color photos of different skin tones and practice mixing the colors to match them. Remember, working from a photograph is a poor substitute for real-life: shadows can be duller than in real life and reflections can disappear.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Colour mixing - How to Mix Skin Tones in Acrylic Paint!

Source: Paint and Pinot in Perth

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