Instructables
Picture of How to Paint Skin Tones
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I've always had difficulty mixing paints to look like skin colors. However, I recently got advice from an art store employee and wanted to share my new knowledge. I mixed some lovely skin tones following this advice:

The basic thing is to get Burnt Sienna and Titanium White and mix them together. The Sienna goes from brown to peachy!

For more slight variations in color, you can mix in a tiny bit of Red Oxide and Yellow Ochre.

Enjoy! And if you have any other tips for skin-tone painting, please leave them in the comments!

Update: This mix of colors will give you a nice base coat. However, if you're going for a more complex and accurate set of skin tones, you'll need other colors too!
As Noadi comments: "In indoor light someone with fair skin will be very peachy and saturated with shadows skewed purple (not actually purple but in that direction) while in overcast daylight will be lighter and a cooler less saturated shade with shadows skewing towards blue-gray. Skin has a wide range of variations one just one person's face, you might need greens, yellows, blues, or purples along with the browns and reds you usually associate with skin."
artfulann2 years ago
You are on the right track. Paint names in themselves are difficult as they don't say light brown, reddish brown, etc. but burnt sienna, umber...odd names that most aren't familiar with.

For most, knowing a couple of paint names to get you started is a good ideas. And most art store employees, real art stores, are artists. Thanks for going to an art store instead of Walmart or some other big box store where you have no help.

Artists, portrait artists can bog you down with some details that maybe you aren't ready to travel yet. For most people mixing with purple or blue-gray (and the paint labels won't say that either-- you'll have to decide between an array of names.Watercolor, oil, tempera and acrylic also will all react differently

My advice, take a class so you can learn about it hands on- IF you're interested!
Good tip!
Though the title is slightly misleading, I though it was a 'ible on how to paint skin,
as in painting on the skin itself.
I would suggest calling this "How to Paint Skin Tones", otherwise it's an excellent tip, do you know how well it would work for other paint mediums other than the acrylic? (Such as oil or pastels?)
If you want to learn how to paint on skin, don't worry about finding an instructable on it; it's quite easy.

If you don't have a paintbrush, don't worry. Unwrap a Lindor truffle (found in the candy aisle of most grocery stores), lick the chocolate in one spot until you expose the filling, then drag it slowly over your skin.



Oh, and post pics. :)


Selkey, I don't think the other paints have a different technique... mix the colors until they look right, and then mix some lighter and darker shades, sometimes with a slightly different tone.
I can post a photo instructable about painting a portrait with cheap watercolor paints if you want, but I'm too lazy to type much in it. I took lots of pics, though.
SelkeyMoonbeam (author)  BrefelanDesigns2 years ago
Ah, yes. I was wondering if that would be confusing. I'll change it.
Though I'm not an experienced painter, I can't see why mixing the same colors in other mediums wouldn't have the same effect. Watercolor might be different, but oil or pastels are not too far off.
Stop talking to the people who work at the art store and start talking to people who paint portraits. I'm sure they mean well but I think they pointed you in the wrong direction.

While burnt sienna and white can produce a nice base color to start with for certain lighting situations it's not a good universal method. The same person viewed in warm indoor lighting or outside on an overcast day is going to appear to have very different skin tones. In indoor light someone with fair skin will be very peachy and saturated with shadows skewed purple (not actually purple but in that direction) while in overcast daylight will be lighter and a cooler less saturated shade with shadows skewing towards blue-gray. Skin has a wide range of variations one just one person's face, you might need greens, yellows, blues, or purples along with the browns and reds you usually associate with skin.