Skin tones

I know that there are many difficult elements to creating a beautiful portrait. In this posts I am going to help you overcome one of the elements in a portrait: the skin tone. A good place to start is with two clean palettes.  Then what you need to do is squirt out your palette. I recommend that you have the follow colours : cold yellow, warm yellow, brown, cold red, warm red, blue and black.

Now you have your palette prepared it is time to start mixing the colours. Start with a bit of yellow then add a tiny bit of the red (use all cold or all warm don’t mix). Now set aside this orangey hue. To make the tone lighter add white and to darken add blue and black. A good way to prepare yourself is to mix a repertoire of skin tones and lay them out in order. Like this….

To experiment and develop your understand you could take pictures of skin and try to replicate the skin with your palette

Photo of my hand
Small painting of skin

After painting a few samples I went on to paint a portrait

Portrait focusing on skin tone

There are many artists you can look at for further development in the area. For example: Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville and Stanley Spencer are all relevant artists to this subject. Here is a painting I did based on the works of Stanley Spencer

I think that you can achieve great contrast with some palettes but with others the tones are quite similar. Experiment and have fun!!

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