Colour · Painting · Painting Techniques · Portraits · Resources and Materials

How do I Mix a Flesh Tone?

The first thing I do when I mix a flesh tone is look at the complexion of the person I am painting.  Some people’s skin is yellow based (olive skins), some skin is pink based (very fair skin) and so on.

  1. Have a good look at the skin first of all.
  2. Mix some colours – experiment before you start painting
Try mixing some flesh tones first
Try mixing some flesh tones first in your sketchpad

The other thing to bear in mind is that there is not just one ‘flesh tone’ that will do the job.  You will need several tones and colours to make the skin look realistic.

I tend to use a light green as the base as it is neutral and build up brighter, lighter tones on top.  Here are some of the colours I use for flesh tones:

White, Naples Yellow, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Mars Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium

White, Cadmium Yellow,  Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Raw Sienna

White, Indian Red, Yellow Ochre, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, light grey

I don’t use black for flesh tones, just very dark brown, purples with indigo blue. This is a personal list, some like to use more greens and blues, so do see what works best for you.

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