View Full Version : Flesh and Skin Tones

09-18-2000, 04:17 PM
I do not know why, but I seem to dislike the colors I get when I mix the traditional oil fleshtone combinations. Something's missing! The mixtures seem to either be too dark or too chalky.
Does anyone know of any acrylic guidelines for the flesh tones? Care to share? <G> I have a book that recommends using burnt sienna + white, but that's not what I'm looking for either. (Of course, I do not care for that book's oil mixtures either.)
Is it my perception or is there a distinct difference in the mixes one gets with acrylic versus oil?
Thanks for some help, Brownie/FL

[This message has been edited by Brownie (edited September 20, 2000).]

09-18-2000, 04:59 PM
First off, what color flesh are you painting? Is it caucasean, black, indian......? Burnt sienna and white is a good basic color to start of with when mixing flesh. To that mixture you can add your warm and cool colors of cad red lt or alizarin crimson, or yellow ochre/raw sienna. For the darks you can use that same base of burnt sienna and white, but a darker value and add cobalt blue or viridian or chrome ox green. These are all favored colors of portrait painters used in different combinations for different skin types. There are many others I can think of like Terra Rosa and Capucine Yellow and Rose Madder Genuine/Rose Dore. I almost forgot Naples Yellow, which might work for you in combination with venetian if you find burnt sienna and white too dark or chalky. Good luck. In answer to your observation that oil and acryic paints look different, I would agree with you. Oil is a transparent medium, while acrylic is not and therefore whatever is under a layer of oil paint influences the top layer, even though it might not be obvious.


09-18-2000, 09:51 PM
this will help me out alot,
thanks for posting!

09-20-2000, 09:47 PM
Degas5, I notice you didn't mention yellow ochre + cad. red lt. + white, one of the standards from oil painting... Is there something different about the yellow ochre color of acrylic from oil? I note there's a "yellow oxide" as well as "yellow ochre" in some lines of acrylic. Is there much of a difference in them?
I was painting a portrait yesterday and was using a vermillion hue -- W&N cheap acrylic, I think -- plus yelow ochre + white, not too bad for the model's coloring. It is a struggle for me in acrylic, though, I'll confess!
Somewhere I have the Liquitex color chart that lists both oils and acrylics. I suppose I should get that out and start comparing! Duh, so why didn't I think of that yesterday! Thanks for you input, I am always open to information from all. Brownie/FL

09-21-2000, 05:41 PM
Yellow ochre and yellow oxide are the same. Liquitex calls it yellow oxide. Yes, you're right yellow ochre, cad red lt. and white are a good combination, and I thought I mentioned those colors along with raw sienna. I just like to start a painting with low chroma colors when I block in and come in with stronger colors, like cad. red lt. and yellow ochre after because if you start with bright colors, you can't build brighter colors on top of that. With that in mind, I like to tone the canvas with a mixtuer of prussian blue and burnt sienna by rubbing it onto a white primed canvas to create a neutral green which is low chroma and very nice undertone of medium value for portrait.


09-21-2000, 11:11 PM
Degas5, Thanks for the underpainting idea. I'll have to give it a try. I used to favor raw sienna for caucasian skin in oils, but these acrylics are another story altogether!
I do note that there are no portrait books using just/or primarily acrylics. The only portrait books I have that do refer to acrylic use aren't very good, IMHO.
BTW, since you're so informative, would you have an opinion about the video on acrylic color (or the book) by Stephen Quiller? I have one video by him that I got accidentally about acrylics and casein, an interesting combination that I've never tried. Oh, so many mediums, so little time! <G> Brownie/FL

09-22-2000, 09:11 AM
I'm glad to be of help if I can. I paint mostly in oils and when I do HAVE to use acrylics I use mostly Cryla Heavy Body acrylics. I work in Art Paint (mediums, brushes, paint) for three years now and one of the perks is just trying out anything I'm curious about and also get alot of ideas from the customers; I learn alot from their experience. We just took on a new line, Golden which has an extensive range of mediums that I can't wait to try. Have you ever used Golden? They have fluourescent colors and concentrated liquid acrylics and glazes and on and on and.......So many products. I bought one of Quiller's books many years ago and never used his method of painting. As you know if you've read Quiller, his paintings are based on color groups, i.e. complementary palettes, split complimentary palettes. etc. and then he mixes grays from that limited palette. I did learn about color and mixing grays, but his paintings don't appeal to my nature of painting. That's just one opinion; judge for yourself. I've never seen him paint portraits though, only landscapes. As for acrylic painting books, I haven't seen many either. I do have a couple and they don't really deal with portraits, but I always felt that oils and acrylic painting is basically the same, if you can deal with the drying time (cryla and a misting bottle works for me) and realize the color will darken a bit. I DO believe that painting portraits in acrylic is a mistake, if you can use oils. The finished product will most definitely be different in appearance. Don't you agree?

09-23-2000, 01:28 PM
Degas5, I guess I don't feel that acrylics and oils are basically the same, else I wouldn't be in such a tizzy looking for some guidance on mixing these colors to a more acceptable tone for skin! <G> Trying acrylics instead of oils for my portrait work was just a lark, but I'm rather curious-stubborn and wondered how others approached portraiture in acrylic. As I said previously, the only portrait works I have seen in acrylic are not my style and/or unappealing to me personally. I also use aklyds at times and may get back into them, but they're as much "mess" as my oils. However, they can be frame-ready in a week's time when there's a deadline to meet. (See, I have this darned bird that likes to be with someone ALL the time, so water-based paints are obviously safer if he's around!)
I have a lot of the Golden mediums that I am also trying. An acrylic landscape painter I know warned me about that retarder, though, that using too much of it just leaves a tacky surface that won't dry! She suggested adding it to my rinse water...still experimenting. Also, I noticed yesterday a note on the Liquitex matte medium & varnish that said it would lessen the depth of dark colors. Have you noticed that, or don't you ever use a medium? The Golden glazing medium seems popular with some, but I don't really understand the difference between it and other brands of "medium."
I envy your position of having new products to try and use, but I am not known for my restraint, so maybe it's for the best that I try to limit myself to painting and decorative mediums. Please be sure to post as you learn about new products! Brownie/FL

09-26-2000, 08:46 AM
For flesh tones I use red oxide instead of burnt sienna. I also use yellow oxide, raw umber with a little ferrous green. I'm probably alone in using ferrous green. It is not a popular color. but it works well with Utrecht's raw umber. I mix a little of the green with it. This is for darks. Of course I use white. These colors are for painting my self-portraits so they are tailored to my skin tones. You can see the work on my website: davida-art.com I don't know how accurate the color rendition will be on your screen but it may give you an idea.

I find that I work best when when I mix up a batch of the lightest tone, mid-tone and dark of the colors so they are ready for use. Acrylics dry too quickly to mix between paint applications.


[This message has been edited by artwoman1 (edited September 26, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by artwoman1 (edited September 26, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by artwoman1 (edited September 26, 2000).]