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Old 08-10-2005, 05:26 PM
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Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Introduction

Welcome to the Skin Tones Portrait Classroom! The subject of skin tones is a broad one. Some subjects relating to or affecting the appearance of skin tones have already been covered, so I will try to weave in between these subjects and leave open the possibility of further exploring certain aspects.

I will not be doing a demonstration nor be giving assignments due to the range of approaches that are possible. I simply hope that everyone can find some bit of information that is useful to their work and employ it. I will include as many examples, diagrams or illustrations as I can and will answer questions as best I can. Even though there isn’t an assignment aspect to this, feel free to post your work or experiments that you do as a result of this thread.

Outline of Study

We will be focusing on “realistic” skin tones under simple warm or cool lighting. Here is the scope of what this thread will cover (may be expanded as needed):

Skin Color (Local Color of Skin)
Effect of Light and Shadow/Logic of Light
Modeling Form with Temperature and Value
Discussion of Skin Tone Palettes

I’ll be back soon for the first installment!
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Old 08-10-2005, 08:02 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

welcome Lacey & I look forward to your demo! A really important one at that!! I always have difficulty with color....grrr.
I've stuck this thread so it will get the attention it deserves...
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Old 08-10-2005, 11:02 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

This is exactly what I need!! I can't wait to start!
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Old 08-10-2005, 11:04 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

And I agree! I have so many palettes for skin tones that I'm totally confused. Can't wait for this!
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Old 08-10-2005, 11:43 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

I'm scared!

I read in an american artist magazine (Pastel Highlights 2 pg. 16) that one artist named Margaret Dyer only uses greens and lavenders to produce realistic looking skin tones. What? She says it's "due to the glazing." They of course do not go into the details of glazing assuming that if you bought the magazine then you probably already know all about it. She said, "The different colors neutralize each other and optically mix to the right color"...and I'm still lost.
I ordered some pastel pencils, but they're not here yet. I look forward to watching and learning. Great Idea!

Jules

Last edited by Darkwave : 08-11-2005 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 08-11-2005, 09:41 AM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

What perfect timeing, I've been spending this week in tring to learn skin tones. Like everyone else, I have alot of pallets I have no clue on how to use.

Here is what I have done so far. Very simple pallet.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=287806
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Old 08-11-2005, 09:53 AM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Looking forward for these teachings.
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Old 08-11-2005, 11:02 AM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Oh boy, I am looking so forward to this, as I have such a problem with what I should be using for skintones. Thankyou so much Lacey.

Val.
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Old 08-11-2005, 12:50 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

I'm glad to have you all as an audience! I hope the information that I present will help everyone. After I present the information on palettes, I hope we can all have an open discussion about them. I will be presenting 2 basic approaches to the skin tone palette that are pretty much opposite on the spectrum, but there are many approaches in between that can be explored, depending on our inclinations!

I should be back to present the first section later today! I will aim for one section every day or two and will try to answer as many questions as possible.

-Lacey
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Old 08-11-2005, 02:25 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

I agree, perfect timing. I will also be watching this. I,too, have many skin tone palettes, but have not fully understood the best ways to use them. Thanks Lacey
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Old 08-11-2005, 05:20 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Local Color of Skin

Before we even begin painting or drawing, we need to observe certain things about what we see in the skin. This will help determine the colors that we decide to use in our palette and/or how we use the colors.

First, what color is the skin? Generally speaking, the local color of skin falls within the yellow to red area on the color wheel. The skin might lean towards yellow, be fairly orange, very red, or a pinkish color. Sometimes using a photo editing program to increase the saturation can help you to see these colors, but use your judgment when you read this information.
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Old 08-11-2005, 05:26 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

(I hope you were able to see the difference in the regular and saturated images above. Please ask for clarification if you need it!)

Also determine the overall value of the skin. Is the skin medium, light, or dark in value? These values will also vary across the same face and may cover only a few steps on the value scale or many steps. Lighting will also influence the range of values apparent across the skin. Again using the photo editing program, use the desaturated tool or convert the image to black and white to isolate the values.

(PS: Thanks to everyone who submitted to the reference library!)
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Old 08-11-2005, 05:27 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

The key to understanding the color of the skin is to assess its saturation. Saturation is the relative pureness of a color. A color usually becomes desaturated by adding its compliment. When we look at skin tones, it often seems like the colors aren’t on a basic color wheel. Therefore, it is helpful to look at a color wheel that includes more and less saturated variations of each color. I am including a graphic of one that is not of the best quality, but others that are arranged more logically and include accurate progressions of color are available commercially and in various books you can find at the library. This should at least give you an idea of the different saturations.

To make matters even more complicated, the saturation and color of skin also varies on each person! Areas that receive more blood, like the cheeks and nose, are likely to be redder and more saturated, while areas that contain veins close to the surface of the skin may be desaturated or take on a blue cast. You can see the evidence of this by looking at the palm of your hand, where you will see the pads look redder and the very middle is blue with veins. The extent that these things affect skin tones is different from one ethnicity to the next and also varies among each individual.
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Old 08-11-2005, 05:32 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Review:
When looking at skin, look closely to determine the color of the skin, the saturation of the skin, and the value range of the skin. Try to see the subtle variations, how the value, color and saturation changes as you go from forehead to eye socket, eye socket to cheek, cheek to chin, and chin to neck.

Here are a few portraits to look at. Try to answer the above questions with each one. Do some have more variations among certain aspects than others? Feel free to share and discuss your observations here!
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Old 08-11-2005, 05:34 PM
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Re: Skin Tones Portrait Classroom

Next: We will explore how light affects the skin tones that we see and start to apply “Light Logic” even if we don’t always see its effects outright. I suggest we all review celestia’s thread in the portrait classroom on light and shadows, as I will not be going as in-depth on the aspects that she has already covered. She has some great examples and wonderful info there, so check it out!
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