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  1. #1
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    Post what colors to mix skin tone for water color

    i tried to paint skin tone with water color and mixed raw sienna with white and carmine (reddish color) and i can't seem to get a good color it seems pale but the result does look like human skin a bit..

    what colors to mix for skin tone for water coloring? lets say a caucasian skin color with no light shining.

    i read somewhere that tells you to use red color but i saw a video somewhere with a painting of someone with not too much red on it and has some yellow color in it but probably from light.

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  3. #2
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    You're on the right track. I'd use either a very dilute red or yellow to get the skin tone. Maybe even both for an orange hue.

    If I were going for a very white person with no coloration from lighting (i.e. Irish person indoors, white lighting), I'd start with a very pale red and see how that turns out.

    Imagine a pale colored peach, that's pretty much what you're aiming for.

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  4. #3
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    Almost any warm slightly greyish color can make a convincing human flesh tone. It's all about color relationship. I'd be very careful of relying on color formulas because they are going to stop you from thinking and reacting the way you should be.

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    If you're working with watercolor on watercolor paper, put away the white paint and don't mix it with anything. Your brightest white is the paper and the translucency of your color is going to allow it to shine through. From what I've seen, you can either do it in glazes of shadow colors (greens, purples) and flesh tone (crimson and sepia brown with yellow) or make a big wash of already pre-mixed flesh tone colors - minus the white - and use that as a first glaze before adding in shadow hues.

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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wilson View Post
    Almost any warm slightly greyish color can make a convincing human flesh tone. It's all about color relationship. I'd be very careful of relying on color formulas because they are going to stop you from thinking and reacting the way you should be.
    I would agree with what J Wilson has said, you don't want to find one formula for skintone and stick with it... where is the fun in that anyway?
    I asked my watercolour teacher the exact same question, and he wouldn't give me an answer, only "Experiment, and find out which work colours best,". He basically wanted me to find out things by myself, so I didn't fall into the trap of following a formula. There are so many different ways to make skintones, just experiment and see what results you can come up with

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  7. #6
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    Yes, classical watercolor technique avoids white paint, building up colors with transparent washes. Try using burnt sienna as your base, and modifying it with other colors as needed. Start with very light washes and build things up gradually.


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  8. #7
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    Hmmm. I think when I'm mixing skin tones, I generally use Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and a slight amount of Ultramarine Blue, heavily diluted. That gives a pretty good mix, and light washes will generally look close to a pale skin tone.

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    ....

    I had the exact same problem and still do at the best of times. The best way to battle it is to buy yourself a sketchbook that can take watercolour and do swatch after swatch. Fill it full of them and always write down the colours you're using and figure out a way of giving yourself an idea of how much of the colour is used. Go to a hobby store that has an art department, you can usually find some on sale or in the clearance section. I picked up a Canson All-Media sketchbook with 90lb Cold Pressed watercolour paper for just a couple of bucks. The trick I've learn't with watercolour is 'if at first you don't succeed, try and try again.'

    oh and try using earth tones like sienna's and ochres and such

    good luck

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  10. #9
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    With no light shining eeeverything would be black

    In all seriousness- you'll probably need a yellow, a red, and a neutralizer- a blue or a black . Dilute with water instead of using white (pretty much what Viridis said, though you can use other pigments). You'll need to experiment with the proportions of each pigment and water, based on the exact pigments you choose and your desired outcome. But- as J Wilson said, it all depends on the relationships in the picture.

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  11. #10
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    Dont get too caught up in thinking skin tones are a set formula; look at this Scott burdick
    http://www.scottburdick.com/2002scott32.htm

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  13. #11
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    Well, being a lurker of all things briggsy@ashtons, I'm trying to get out of the formula mindset as well.

    But, from The Watercolor Painter's Pocket Palette, by Moira Clinch:

    Main Color Mixture
    1. Alizarin Crimson
    2. Raw Sienna

    Highlight Mixtures show main color plus
    3. Lemon yellow
    4. Cadmium yellow
    5. Cadmium red

    Shadow mixtures show main color plus
    6. Cobalt blue
    7. Paynes gray
    8. Viridian

    Alizarin Crimson is probably close to "Carmine" though people like Bruce MacEvoy will tell you to avoid Alizarin Crimson in favor of something that's more lightfast.

    And, below is an experiment I did in my SB with Windsor & Newton Cotman Colors: Light Red and Sepia.

    Looks like it would make a nice flesh tone. . .

    what colors to mix skin tone for water color

    Last edited by Kamber Parrk; April 8th, 2011 at 11:32 PM.
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  15. #12
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    White paint makes things look pasty and bleh and you want nice, vivid colors. The above palette that Kamber Parrk posted is a good start and I also agree with the advice that:

    There is no set formula for mixing skin tones and choosing an appropriate mix for skin tones is largely affected by color relationships.

    I don't usually use the same mixture while painting skin but my most common used paints are Raw and Burnt Sienna, Lemon Yellow, Permanent Rose, Cadmium Red and Yellow, and Cobalt Blue. Pay attention to the temperature of the paint as well...for example if I want to lighten and cool down a mixture I would add Lemon Yellow instead of Cadmium Yellow.

    You can also use transparent colors to add glazes to dry paint. Permanent Rose works very well for this.

    And that's all I know!

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  16. #13
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    Oops!

    I should clarify. In the Clinch list above, 3, 4, and 5, and 6, 7, and 8 are single ALTERNATIVE additions! (If you mix all three of each together, you're just going to get a god-awful mess!)

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