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Flesh Tones

Flesh Tones

Flesh Tones I

by Pete Herrera

 I use a permutation of the “traditional” mix as introduced in Shep Paine’s book: burnt sienna + gold ochre + white. To this I add a bit of raw umber, and an extremely small amount of prussian blue. By “extremely small” I mean just a toothpick-tip’s worth. I’ve found the addition of blue to tone down the inherent reddish tone inherent to burnt sienna. I’ve also heard that adding a bit of green has the same effect, but I haven’t tried this out yet. For an undercoat, I’ve taken to using Vallejo medium flesh with a very thin layer of Testor’s dullcote lacquer; this in an effort from keeping the Vallejo acrylic from lifting from the piece (something I’ve had problems with at times).

For shadows, I’ve just added burnt umber to the base mix and applied it wet-on-wet. For highlights, titanium white is added to the base mix and applied wet-on-wet as well. I’ve never had much luck with colors such as naples yellow red or jaune brillant for the highlights – maybe this is due to my heavy-handedness with the painting technique.

In fact, that’s always been a problem of mine when painting fleshtones – knowing when to stop. After applying and blending in highlights and shadows, I just let the piece dry over night. After drying, I hate to admit it but I block in the shadows and highlights again so as to accentuate them a bit more. For highlights, though, I’ve found myself applying about three consecutively lighter tones in layers, much like it’s done by acrylic painters.

Flesh Tones II

by Paul Kelly

My flesh tone technique is a little on the odd side. I undercoat all my flesh tones in Liquitex Deep Portrait Pink for starters. Next, and this is where is gets a little strange, I mix up a shadow color of Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, and a touch of Alizarin Brown Madder. I cover all flesh areas with that mix, let is sit for about 10 minutes, then take a wide flat brush, and wipe it all off. What I am left with is a very small amount of the shadow color in all the creases, which I blend out to reduce any build-up and a very light sheen on the raised areas.

My main flesh mix is Mars Orange and/or Mars Red, Mars Yellow, and a touch of Titanium White. I lightly apply that mix to all the raised areas, and blend. My first highlight color is the base plus a small amount of Juane Brilliant, and a little more Tit. White. For a head, I do the majority of the highlights while the head is upside down! Pretty weird, eh? I find that I can catch all the highlight areas better painting from the jaw line up. I use an almost drybrush-like technique for highlights, so I blend as I go along. Also, I use flat brushes exclusively for all my flesh tones.

After the first highlight is applied, I’ll add a very small amount of Titanium White to the initial highlight mix, and apply the same way. Generally, I’ll have between 6-8 different highlight mixes…just by adding small amounts of white to each previous mix. I like to build my highlights up. When I first began painting figures, I made the mistake of doing too much at one time. I find I have better control by building highlights up the way I do.

The last two things I paint are the eyes and the lips. Eyes are base coated with an off-white, iris’ are painted in either flat black enamels or acrylics, then the rest of the eye is done in oils. I outline the eyes with Mars Orange for the bottom eyelid, and Mars Red for the top. Corners of the eyes are done with a small amount of Cad. Red. The final touch is a couple of coats of Liquin. Lips are painted with a mix of Cad Red, a touch of Indian Red, and Titanium White.



Flesh Tones III

by David Hoffman

In mixing a basic flesh tone, I’m often guilty of violating the rule of “keeping it simple”. I really enjoy adding various pigments until I feel I’ve achieved a good basic mix, and I may use such colors as Rembrandt’s Naples Yellow Reddish Ext., Naples Yellow, Titanium White, Flesh Tint, Cadmium Red, Mars Brown, a tad of Burnt Sienna, Jaune Brilliant, and the like until I achieve the color I want. For different races and complexions I will add for example more Mars Brown, Venetian Red and /or burnt sienna. I doubt I’ve used the same flesh mixture twice, but there is nothing wrong with the tried and true Burnt Sienna, Gold Ochre and Titanium White combination!

For medium shadows I like to add some Burnt Sienna and Mars Brown to the basic mix, and for the darker areas Brown Madder Alizarin is applied directly to the figure. Be careful with Burnt Sienna, however, as too much of it will spread into your base color and give it an Orange cast resulting in the dreaded “Pumpkin Head”. Using Mars Brown instead prevents this, but used by itself it is kind of neutral, dead color without real life to it. That is why I might add some Burnt Sienna or even Cadmium red, especially around the cheeks. The trick is to be careful in your blending and not to muddy things up

In the later stages I use Rembrandt’s Sepia Extra for the darkest areas between the eyes, under the chin and behind the ears, but I’ll apply it wet on wet (very dangerous, perhaps). A dab under the lower lip can help, too. As the final step, I apply final highlights with pure Titanium White. Be real careful here, as too much white will “wash out” the figure and this is VERY hard to correct. Better to use not enough white and slowly add more than to over do it. I seldom go back to repaint or add to a face once it has dried unless I made some mistakes or am unhappy with it.

Here’s my basic mix:

Base: Naples Yellow Reddish Extra (Rembrandt)+White+Mars Brown

Medium Shadows: Mars Brown+Burnt Sienna

Deeper Shadows: Brown Madder Alizarin

Deepest Shadows: Sepia Extra (Rembrandt)

Highlights: Titanium White+Jaune Brilliant+Naples Yellow Light

Highest Highlights: Titanium White

Cheeks: Add a little cadmium red

Lips: Add a little Alizarin Crimson