I posted awhile back looking for some critique on skin tones and got some really nice feedback. Since then, I've decided that the best way to learn to paint skin would be to paint from reference. I'm trying to paint at least one quick portrait a night (using a photo reference), and keep my time limited to under 20 minutes so that I don't get too hung up on little details.
Anyway, here are my first four. What do you think?
The best way is to draw from real life since photos can't show all the colors that you can see in the real life. When I took drawing classes, I was told to use dark blues, dark purples, dark reds in mixture to add to shadow areas and that way it ads more depth to portraits.
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But, just for the record, these are incredible!
You are accurately reproducing photographic color. Which isn't taking you any closer to painting a good skin tone.
Painting from reference doesn't mean you have to copy. And before you can use a photo as reference, you should be aware of how photography affects the color. Which is a rather complicated thing, so it is better to work from life, not photos.
Practice some value-only painting in black and white, in pencil or some quick-drying medium like gouache or acrylic. That's the required basis for any color painting. If you can make it work in black and white, you'll be able to make it work in color much easier.
They look great, but they also look like photos. It is easy for people to say that you must draw from life but its not always possible to find models. However, self portraits will teach you as much as you need and you can get up close and personal to see all the blues, greens reds and yellows that are visible in and under the skin. All the best artists did many sp's.