Tuesday, May 12, 2020


NO… you cannot get a skin tone color from a tube….  You have to mix it! 

Just about every skin tone contains a little yellow, blue and red, but in different ratios. To create realistic flesh tones, start by mixing an equal part of red, yellow, blue, and white paint together. You can adjust the ratios  of this base mixture for skin tones that are more yellow, orange or pink.  Then, if you want to make light skin tones, add in more white and yellow to lighten the color. If you want to create mid-range skin tones, try adding equal parts burnt umber and raw sienna to darken the shade. 

A nice short cut to skin tones is to use Yellow or Golden Ochre and Raw Sienna then lighten with white.

But if you are wanting your skin tones to look more natural and realistic your palette can include the following mixes of Warm tones, Cool tones and Grays.

Primary base color mixes for Warm tones:
Gold Ochre & Cadmium Scarlet  with Titanium White added for different values  leans more toward orange tones
Gold Ochre & Cadmium Red with Titanium white added for different values  leans more toward pinker skin tones
Gold Ochre + Titanium white added for different values leans more toward  yellow skin tones
You can use Yellow Ochre instead of Gold Ochre it just does not have as much tinting strength

To desaturate these Flesh tones you need to mix some cool tones with the complimentary colors on the color wheel to the tone you are using… Pink, Orange or Yellow.

Primary base color mixes for Cool Tones:
Ultramarine Blue + Titanium White in about 3 different values (light, medium, dark) for the Orange skin tones
Viridian Green + Titanium White in about 3 different values.  These Greens are good to use with Pink skin tones.
Purple made with Ultramarine blue and Alizarin Crimson  - One mixed with more red and one mixed with more blue for a warm purple and cool purple
Add White to your purples for about 3 different values and use this with your Yellow skin tones. 
Always add your darker colors into your lighter colors when mixing to use less paint

After you mix your particular palette warm and cool colors for the portrait you are painting you mix 1 of each warm and cool together to get a few nice grays to use in your shadows and facial contours

Using Grays or less saturated colors
Mixing compliments together to get grays
A Compliments is the color on the opposite side of the color wheel.
Pink tones with Green tones, Orange tones with Blue tones and Yellow tones with Purple tones
Mix similar values together
It is easier to mix cooler colors into warmer colors
If you use a different color than the compliment you will get what artists call a muddy color. 

When mixing colors with your palette knife be sure and wipe it off before dipping in to the pure colors to keep them pure and not contaminate them with another color.

I hope you enjoy these 3 options for color mixing skin tones for your portraits! 

Happy Painting! 🎨

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