Skin tones?

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Thread: Skin tones?

  1. #1
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    Skin tones?

    Just wondering if anyone has any good tips or tutorials for painting skin. My version at the moment has turned out to look more like fake tan than a natural skin tone!

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    Well, my best advice would be to avoid a monochromatic look as best as you can, because that's not the way light works. Experiment with warm and cool tones, and mix up a pallette of pinkish tints as well as earth tones. Also, if the texture is too smooth, it's going to look plastic and artificial, so try adding more grit to the rendering (even something as simple as using a hard-edge brush instead of a soft edge; or adding noise filters and texture overlays helps).

    Can you post examples of your work, so we can have a better understanding of what specifically needs improvement?

    In the meantime, I suggest reading some tutorials by Henning Ludvigsen and Linda Bergkvist. They are masters at figure painting.

    www.henningludvigsen.com
    www.furiae.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Azeroth View Post

    Can you post examples of your work, so we can have a better understanding of what specifically needs improvement?



    www.henningludvigsen.com
    www.furiae.com
    Thanks for the links.

    I will post something when it looks presentable, but at the moment I am in the early stages and it looks messy.

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    I think http://www.furiae.com/index.php?view=gallery
    has an excellent tutorial for painting skin tones. I've done the tutorial and had great luck painting skin afterwards.

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    What I do is use a picture of myself and use the eyedropper tool. I choice a verity of colours and make a paint pallet. I overlap the colours, try different transparencies, etc.

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    there used to be a thread or two on the subject, but I can't seem to locate them...

    Basically, the two things that make a skin tone look the way it does are: 1. what's happening under that skin (and the pigmentation of the skin as well) and 2. the external influence (what sort of light it's being seen under).

    What's going on underneath is the more formulaic half, because it's fairly consistent from person to person with pigmentation being the major difference. All the same, we all have the same basic pattern of color shifts. A good way to observe them is under a clean white light. You should see it most in fair skinned individuals. There will be parts of the body (like the arms and legs, the nose, fingers and joints sometimes) that have more coloring (typically red and pink tints) and other parts which are more pale (the torso, forehead, etc.). This is because some areas have more blood running through them and concentrated in them close to the skin than others. There are many subtle colors in caucasian skin tones though, and to understand them best you should really just do lots of direct observation. See where you can find shades of greens and purples and blues.

    The color of light makes a big difference too. Yellow lights tend to hide alot of the variety in skin tones, so painting a subject under a yellow incandescent bulb or lit by flames will look more monochrome than a figure in sunlight or under flourescents (unflattering, but they really show alot of variation in skin tones).

    I personally feel that the biggest mistake that one can make in painting skin is to think that there is a catch all formula for skin tone. You can make a skin tone our of some of the most unlikely colors if used in the right context. The most convincing skin tones will be had from lots of subtle and delicate shifts and they will be harmonious with their surrounding environment. This is one area where study from live models is extremely helpful.

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    Another thing to realize about painting skintone is that there are lots of colors in the skin. From reds to blues and every color in between.

    Study traditional painting techniques for color mixing and apply it to digital painting. Reading up on color theory will also help you understand painting skin.

    Here is an example:
    http://studioproducts.com/demo/palettxt.html

    Here are a couple of digital tutorials:
    http://tutorials.epilogue.net/tutori...op-and-painter

    http://www.idigitalemotion.com/tutor.../skintone.html

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    One of my major concerns with working digitally is when you're trying to do something quite subtle, that the difference between what I see on my monitor and what comes out of the printer or even on someone else's monitor is so different.

    DavePalumbo's advice about making the nose etc slightly more red than other parts of the body sounds ace in theory, but then I look at the face on his avatar and I really can't tell where that theory has been applied. Is the nose in his avatar more red than other parts? Is there any blue in the shadows of that face?

    Oh, how I worry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones Weep Tedium View Post
    DavePalumbo's advice about making the nose etc slightly more red than other parts of the body sounds ace in theory, but then I look at the face on his avatar and I really can't tell where that theory has been applied. Is the nose in his avatar more red than other parts? Is there any blue in the shadows of that face?
    Dave answers your question in his own post (emphasis mine):
    The color of light makes a big difference too. Yellow lights tend to hide alot of the variety in skin tones, so painting a subject under a yellow incandescent bulb or lit by flames will look more monochrome than a figure in sunlight or under flourescents (unflattering, but they really show alot of variation in skin tones).



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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Dave answers your question in his own post (emphasis mine):
    So is that a good idea for young, inexperienced artists? To paint people with dramatic lighting conditions so as to avoid difficult situations?

    He didn't address my other concern, regarding spending hours delicately mixing and blending and agonising over details, and then find that it all disappears once the illo has been printed.

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    Cesare Beccaria
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  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones Weep Tedium View Post
    So is that a good idea for young, inexperienced artists? To paint people with dramatic lighting conditions so as to avoid difficult situations?
    No. You should paint from life to learn to observe color, and not deal with color when working from your imagination until you can convincingly make form with value.
    Form, light, and color are complicated. It's natural to be confused. It's going to be very hard to make sense of things at first when you have little bits of isolated, sometimes seemingly contradictory information, but trust me, eventually you will begin to understand the overarching framework and it will all make sense.


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  15. #12
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    Not much I can add to the excellent advice above. The only thing I can say is that because we have such strong facial recognition sensitivity, problems with the way we think of paint and how it makes form show up particularly when dealing with flesh.

    What I mean is that inexperienced painters tend to think of the paint as landing on forms like paint applied to a beach ball, resulting in a curious wooden effect, no matter how subtle the colours. Paint needs to be thought of and imagined as a substance describing volume and not colouring a surface. For instance, when painting a cloud the brushmarks are making a three dimentional volume, when painting a blue sky you are painting a three dimentional space. When painting flesh or anything else think of the paint making it and not colouring it.

    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/
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