Step by Step for a Perfect, Realistic Skin Tone with Highlights, Lowlights, and Depth
by Lisa Roebbelen
(Costa Mesa, CA)
Here is the secret to creating a REALISTIC SKIN TONE!!!
1.) FIRST, LOOK AT YOUR SUBJECT'S FLESH.
-NOTICE all the different shades and tones of your subjects skin and note the parts that have contrast of light and dark. (Squinting your eyes helps to observe contrast as well as defining dominant form). VISUALIZE the skin in all shades from the lightest to the darkest color, highlights to low-lights (a color scheme).
- PINPOINT the shade MIDWAY between the lightest and the darkest tone. By determining the middle color, you have identified your BASE SKIN TONE! Get to love this color, you will mix variations of your new favorite color to create a realistic depth and appearance.
2.) SECOND, MIX TO CREATE BASE SKIN TONE (B-1)*.
-Create the "middle" color as your skin base.
-CAUCASIAN SKIN: red, blue, sepia, yellow, brown.
-AFRICAN AMERICAN SKIN: use more brown and blue.
*(B-1) is the original base mix without white added.
**(B-2) is (B-1) WITH white added-the middle tone.
It is VITAL to use very very small amounts of blue, red, and yellow in the paint because even just a little too much will make your skin look like lack of oxygen, jaundice, or a sunburn! The mixed paint should look dark brownish with a hint of olive greenish.
3.) ADD WHITE AND TIME TO PAINT.
-Separate (B-1) into two parts. Reserve half.
- Mix with WHITE to one glob of the base color (B-1) to achieve the middle tone color (B-2), and make a lot. Paint the ENTIRE skin area with the middle base color.
-With a light almost transparent brushing of WHITE paint define the lightest areas on the skin. Paint the white quick and loosely. Don't put thought into it or effort, this is just giving you a feeling-similar to a rough sketch. (This is important to help you visualize the depth and perception of your subject.) After this step, your skin should be two toned: the base color with hints of white.
4.) SEPARATE AND CREATE
- Separate the MIDDLE TONE COLOR (B-2) into THREE sections on your pallet. One glob is for highlights, one glob is for low-lights, one glob is just in case you need the original color again.
-Add more WHITE for the HIGHLIGHTS
-Add more of THE BASE COLOR (B-1) for low-lights and shading.
-Layer and layer a little color change at a time to achieve a realistic blend of flesh tone. If it looks like choppy color transitions at the end and you are using Acrylic paint, wait for it to dry and mix the MIDDLE TONE COLOR (B-2) with water and lightly apply a small amount to the skin to blend. Kind of like putting nylons on to hide imperfections.
Good luck! You can see what the skin looks like on my myspace in my Art Album.