View Full Version : Beginners palette?

01-28-2018, 03:45 PM
Im wanting to get away from flowers and landscapes for a while and try portraits of my grandkids. What would be a good starting palette?

01-29-2018, 05:24 AM
Portrait palettes are very simple the difficulty comes with the understanding of form and the use of light to show the form accurately.

The so called Zorn Palette is typical of what you need itís comprised of Ivory Black, Vermilion and Yellow Ochre.
If you add Cobalt Blue to it you will be able to get stronger greens but itís not really that necessary as the Ivory black has enough blue in it.
Nearly any low intensity Red, Yellow, Blue will set you on the right track skin tones are very muted.

:wave: Dave.

02-17-2019, 09:50 AM
A good brand is Mount Vision. They do not use heavy metals. The subtle changes in colour are available from them. I think many pastelists on this site use M Vison.

Luis Sanchez
02-24-2019, 01:24 AM
Well, I am sure you'd find a different opinion to every single portrait painter you ask around.
Anyway, are you going to use glazing or paint alla prima. Most of the time I favour the second approach and want a more "painterly" look. At any rate, for opaque, non glazing techniques I'd suggest either:

- Yes, Zorn's palette: White (either titanium white or lead white "hue"), Cadmium yellow medium, Cadmium "red light" or whatever name is used in the tube for the cadmium red that is just a tad redder than cadmium orange as you are aiming for vermillion, yellow ochre and ivory black. The ivory black is your "cool/blue" colour.
- Not so long my "non-sense" limited palette was: Titanium white, one tube of pro grade when white colour was required on canvas and a student grade one for mixing. Burnt umber, if possible the real deal earth pigment PBr7. Ultramarine blue (we can discuss this all day, but it is probably the best choice for mixing), Cadmium yellow medium and Perylene Maroon (PR 179). I stumbled almost by chance with a tube of Georgian's Pyrrole Rubine and that's my new red. Fun thing is that as I wrote this I googled to get the pigment code (PR264) and found that Mark Carder has recently moved to this exact same palette. Which is kinda unsurprising as the conflictive colour has always been the "pure" red colour with people choosing all kind of stuff like original (and fugitve) alizarin crimson, PR177, PR209 and PR108. I settled with perylen PR179 not because it has the "juiciest/nicest" tone, but because it mixes "reallistic", subtle tones which match the real colours one can see in the real world (it is always a shock when using either the computer or a colour checker to see how muddy real colours are). Reason Pyrrole Rubine is (arguably) better is that it matches better some brighter oranges, like, say, a sunset or a mandarine but can always be muddied into submission by adding some burnt umber or blue with a tad of yellow.

At any rate: old master, low chroma palette: zorn. A bit more contemporary but still minimal palette that will cover 95% of the REAL world colours: white, cad yellow medium, ultramarine blue, burnt umber and some red, either PR 179 or PR264. Both work perfectly for portraits.

And yes, for that super duper intense colour that might appear occasionally just use viridian, cad orange or diox purple for that one and only zone. Also, avoid "flesh tints" which are next to worthless. I think I have all my tubes of that colour unopened, haha. They can kind of serve as a base, but if I am going to modify it all the time with ochre/red, etc, I may as well just mix a proper base colour for the subject at hand.

At any rate, any 3 colours evenly separated in the chromatic wheel can do the trick. Say magenta (pv19), cyan (thalo blue gs) and cad yellow medium + white + payne's gray. But this will create brighter colours than the real world. Really, most of natural stuff is grayish/brownish. In particular, for portraits you'd find that this will need a lot of mixing time just to mud your mixes to proper tones, but hey, it could work.