View Full Version : skin tone colour mix

12-31-2001, 01:33 PM
high everyone!

i'm doing a portrait w/ acrylics, and the skin tone's driving me bananas! :mad: someone please help... what colours do you mix, and in what proportions, to get a variating, translucent skin tone (e.g. that of an asian's)?

01-03-2002, 05:42 AM
here is Einion's post on another thread-
a flesh highlight might be Titanium White, Cadmium Red Light and a little Yellow Ochre;
a halftone might include these colours with Cerulean Blue and Chromium Oxide Green;
a cool dark might include Titanium White, Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine (a basic flesh midtone with added Ultramarine);
a basic dark might be Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red Light and Lamp Black with a touch of white
the blush around the knees or buttocks might be Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Permanent Alizarin Crimson with just a hint of Cerulean Blue.

cobalt fingers
01-10-2002, 06:30 PM
Whether painting a face or a still life or a landscape; light and atmosphere effect the color of the subject. There are no pat answers. If you have a cool blue light upon your sitter/subject and warm shadows the color will be greatly effected by this. Anytime you sit down with "flesh" from a tube or formulas from a book trouble is not far behind. One cannot address any new challenge with the solutions from a former.

It would be best to have someone sit for you and simply try to paint from life. Once you do this for some time you'll be addicted.

01-10-2002, 07:57 PM
i agree with tim.

there is no pat answer to this, and depends on the situation.

01-10-2002, 10:30 PM
Mix Yellow Ochre and Indian Red together to get an orange-red color. (Be careful with the Indian Red, it's the much more powerful of the two colors.) Add in Titanium White. Voila! You have flesh color. If you find the resulting flesh color slightly too high key, you can add a slight bit of green to dull it down a bit. (Viridian is easier to control here than Pthalo Green).

The hard part is mixing highlights and shadows. When white is added to the orange-red color, this causes the paint to shift to a more neutral color. For highlights, a slight bit of Cadmium Yellow Medium added will help counteract the effects of the white. Shadows are more difficult. If you just use the Yellow Ochre/Indian Red mix for shadow, the shadows will be too high key. Add Ivory Black or Burnt Umber to fix this problem, and maybe a touch of Quinacridone Violet. But not too much or the shadows will be gray and ghastly. One of my early attempts at portraiture was completely ruined because the shadows came out looking lavender-gray (and it happened simply by mixing Burnt Umber into the flesh color).

01-11-2002, 08:08 AM
Hlee, Skin tones are not successful because of the color mix, but because of the relationship to each other and the warm and cool juxtaposition on the planes of the face.

One of the best books on the subject, containing the musings of a master, is Linda Cateura's book on David Leffel, "Oil Painting Secrets of a Master". David's musings fill each page with incredible insights into portraiture.

Most beginning and intermediate artists drive themselves crazy trying to "
mix a skintone". In Leffel's portraits, it is not unusual to see a pure violet on the side of the cheek. What is important is knowing where the blood gathers on the face, across the cheeks and nose, and that the forehead is bony and pale. How is the light moving across the face? Did you add color as the plane begins it's turn? That is the sort of information that leads to understanding.

What good is it to know that adding a little cerulean to a halftone ( a lot of artists don't even know what a halftone is!) will cool it, if you don't know where, on the face, to place it after it is mixed?

Any decent artist can learn portraiture. It is not a big secret. Workshops in draughting and live models are essential. There are many books, featured on the top portrait websites, in your local library. The commitment must be there to go for the long haul. Even if you leave the field for a while, if you are meant to be a portraitist, you will return.

One must not expect to understand portraiture in ten easy lessons. It is a study, over a long period of time.