View Full Version : Flesh tones with Acrylics?! ahhhh
September 23rd, 2006, 04:26 PM
I've recently started painting. I use acrylics because that is what I have access to. I'm working on some pieces for my portfolio for college admissions and scholarships right now, and my concentration is "hands". So you'd think I'd be able to render some flesh tones by now, but I really can't... (at least with acrylics). I get too "color happy", and I can't get the skin to look realistic! Does anyone know of a tutorial out there that explains clearly how to render flesh in acrylics? Sometime this week I'll try to upload a picture of the painting that I am working on right now and you'll see my problem clearly... :P
September 23rd, 2006, 04:33 PM
I cant offer a tutorial, but i can tell you that skin is oranges and yellows (caucasion). Everyone knows this, however what most people dont realise is how grey these oranges and yellows are.
Cobalt blue is my most useful colour in fleshtones.
September 23rd, 2006, 05:40 PM
has a nice part about skin
September 23rd, 2006, 06:32 PM
I was told before (actually, yesterday) to use orange + blue and yellow + purple. However, then my painting kept turned too gray (and started to look sickly, because it's my face and hand). I wasn't using cobalt blue though. Should I mix my own purple, or use a store bought one?
That's an awesome tutorial, I think I've seen it before but had lost the link. :)
September 23rd, 2006, 09:10 PM
You may be getting ahead of yourself by worrying about color. 4 out of 5 times I see value (lights and darks) problems when somebody is having color problems, and the most accurate colors in the world are not going to help a painting with value problems. On the other hand, dead-on values let you get away with some very eccentric color choices.
Colors are not too important if you have your values working, and for this reason I think formulas are bad bad bad. Skin is not always these colors or alway those colors, it changes. Look at my avatar. Those are certainly not accurate color for human skin, but it reads as skin all the same. When you have formulas, your skin tones can often end up looking plastic because there's not enough variation happening. Skin color, especially caucasian skin color, is very changable as you change its surroundings. A person in a red sweater will have more of a greenish tint to their skin, a person near a fire will have a very orange/red overall coloring, a person in moonlight very blue. Then you have some areas of the body being more colored than others (elbows and knuckles more pink maybe, or the torso more pale). The depth of color theory is something you should definately explore, but all in good time.
What I suggest is to try doing some monochrome paintings and see how that goes. If you can achive the desired effect in black and white, then you can start worrying over color.
September 24th, 2006, 06:07 AM
and the most accurate colors in the world are not going to help a painting with value problems.
Going to have to cause some arguing here. If a painting has the most accurate colours in the world, its values will be spot on.
Eg, a red. If he has managed to get the exact correct red, for the colour shape he is about to paint, the value will be correct. If the value is not correct, the colour is not correct. Value, is an intrinsic property of colour.
September 24th, 2006, 11:54 AM
by color, he obviously meant hue
September 24th, 2006, 02:28 PM
Unfortunatly though, we are talking about real life mixing, where hue/saturation/lightness dont accurately portray colour mixing.
And technically, in photoshop, they are only an attempt to best describe colour.
Move the hue slider to wherever you want, so you have your hue. Then move the saturation slider. This is not your same hue with more or less saturation at all. It is infact a brand new colour. *cue realisation.
September 24th, 2006, 03:28 PM
I'm all traditional myself, so I'm talking about real life mixing too. I think it's helpful to seperate "color" and value when talking to somebody who's having trouble in their painting though, because the "coloration" of the value is generally not the key problem. To say "this color is off" (which, as you say, would technically be correct) is not the most helpful aproach to solving the problem. Coloration can be interpreted with a fair degree of freedom if you keep your underlying value accurate. Some examples:
In this image, the skin has a fairly natural coloring near the head and shoulders but tints towards green as you move down the body. This would unlikely be seen on the model (barring certain lighting adjustments) and could not be achieved with a formulaic approach to skin tones.
Here is a particularly sensitive color view. The cools in the shadows reading blue and green, the warms coming off as a very punchy pink, leaving the rest a middle tone yellow. Not incorrect, but somewhat exadgerated.
An overall very yellow/green figure, though it reads just fine in the context of the painting.
My point being, I think it's very limiting to think of skin tones as this or that specific mixture of pigments. The skin is so receptive to its environment, and has so many varieties that observation and experimentation are going to give much more interesting color, even if it's not truly "right". If it relates to itself and its surroundings, and the values are correct, it might be better than "right". And that's why I think forumals are bad.
edit: I don't know why those image tags are giving links instead, sorry. Something glitchy happening there?
September 24th, 2006, 11:00 PM
hooollyyy crap, that dorian fella is sick!!
September 25th, 2006, 06:38 AM
He posts here you know =P
October 19th, 2006, 03:01 PM
I know a Dorian posts here but i dont think it's Dorian Vallejo. Let me know if im wrong, be great if he did.
October 19th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Listen to Dave, he knows what he's talking about!
I found the best way to start learning with skin tones was to pick a few colors at random, mix with white, and try sketching a person from life with those mixes. If you don't have nekkid people handy, then do self-portraits. Keep making mistakes until something starts to look good.
October 20th, 2006, 03:44 PM
During a workshop last year an instructor said something which has stuck with me. She said "In a good painting, you can see that the artist fought for the color relationships". She meant it along the lines that, like DavePalumbo said, everything is so dependent on everything else around it that you can never settle for a pre-meditated mixture of colors for anything- especially for skin tones.
That being said, she did give some guidelines for where to start looking for a color's makeup. In general- if the color is warm, mix two warms and one cool color; if the color is cool, mix two cools and one warm. That's in general though- there are times when that doesn't apply (for example in very light or very dark colors), but I find it to be a good starting point- especially for skin tones. The main point is to look for the warm within the cool and vice versa- colors will never look quite right without some cool and some warm acting within it. Another very important thing is that if the color of the light is cool, then all the light areas of every form will be cool relative to the shadow areas, which will be warm. This seems really weird and unintuitive at first- for example the wall behind my monitor is painted with yellow paint, but in the cool light from the window it's actually a pale blue-violet(!) with just a hint of yellow. But if you live with this idea for a while and really look hard at colors in relation to each other in nature (not photographs), you'll start to see that this indeed the case.
Really what it boils down to is that if you start paying attention to colors in real life, you will find that they are never just "one color" as we seem to assume they are. Usually they are 3 or 4 (or more!) colors "over" or "within" each other in a weird optical sort of way. It's due to many things- the color of the light, the color of neighboring objects reflecting, the atmosphere, the texture/makeup of the material, etc.
Just keep looking in when you are out about your day and see if you can see this effect and pick out three or more colors "within" any given color that you look at. It can help to sort of squint or look unfocused at things. I usually close one eye and let the open one go unfocused. I do this probably 20-30 times throughout a regular day while not painting, and with everything I can get my eyes on (I was just doing it with the tile in the bathrooms of our office). Also, look for these ideas in paintings by people who were trained prior to the ubiquity of photographs- especially 19th and early 20th centuries when more pigments became available. It's easiest to see in the impressionists, or painters like N.C. Wyeth.
Hope this helps!
October 21st, 2006, 10:54 AM
Most successfully painted skin tones are created in layers on the surface, and are not literally applied. That is to say, if you're after a grayish-green skin tone, it involves paint that is mixed or glazed, scumbled, or otherwise blended one on top of the other on the surface rather than pre-mixing a gray-green on the palette. Doing so requires some knowledge beforehand of how the colors and mixtures will work together, so you will have to put in the time with studies and experiments.