Painting convincing flesh tones is one of the challenges of portrait painting. Painting skin tones in watercolour can be even more challenging. But with all honesty painting skin tones in watercolour cannot be achieved by using tubes of flesh tint and portrait pink.
Unlike working with acrylics, we do not have the opportunity of mixing white with the flesh tints to lighten watercolour paint. As any good watercolour painter knows mixing white with colours kills them. By simply adding more water to our colour mixes we can create lightness and allow the white of the paper to give us the lighter tones.
Colour Suggestions for Portrait Painting
Essentially, we are mixing a red and yellow to create the flesh tints, red colours such as permanent rose, burnt sienna, cadmium light red with yellows such as yellow ochre and raw sienna. Use blues for the shadows such as cobalt blue, ceruleum blue and ultramarine blue. The newer quinacridone colours are also worth experimenting with.
Here are some good mixes to give a range of flesh tones from the palest European to the darkest African complexion.
- quinacridone pink and raw sienna
- quinacridonemagenta and yellow ochre
- cadmium light red and raw sienna
- quinacridone burnt ornage and yellow ochre
- burnt sienna and ultramarine blue
Try mixing the above starting with more paint and less water to using lots of water to get a range of tones.
Want to know how to draw a face in proportion before you start the watercolour painting? Check out my art tutorial on How to Draw a Face in Proportion
Want to learn more about colour mixing? Check out my tutorial on Colour Ideas for your Painting
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