Painting Skin Tone in Acrylics & Oils with Primary Colors

Mixing Palm Skin Tone with Primary Colors:

Mixing Palm Skin Tone with Primary Colors
Understanding Skin Tone:

Actually, there is no specific rule for achieving human skin tone. Each other artist finds their own way to mix skin tone with a different approach. Which makes each artist and their works special from each other. Skin tones not only differ from human to human, it hugely depends on the environment too. In an outdoor portrait photography, we can easily observe lightest skin tone color towards the source of light and some reflective colors which usually due to environmental reflection, like sky color, tree color or color of the cloths itself. 

To make the color mixing principle easier, we will use some terminology like Hue, Saturation, and Value in our discussion. Where Hue will be the true color range, the Saturation will define the greyishness of that particular color and Value will be the darkness or lightness of that color.   

Why Primary Colors:

As we know each and every visible color on earth can be achieved by mixing the true primary colors like Red, Yellow, and Blue. Usually, the simplest of the skin tone color can be achieved simply by adding white into orange with adjustment of little yellow and red in it. So if we choose any readymade orange color straight from the tube, the adjustment will be difficult. So it is always advisable to use Yellow and Red to achieve the desired orange color first. The Blue, on the other hand, is used to achieve the darker or desaturate the tone or the shades of a skin tone. In this example, I am using Yellow Ochre, Crimson, and Ultramarine Blue instead of Cadmium yellow, Cobalt Blue, and Scarlet Lake to achieve the relatively darker skin tone type of myself.

Achieving the Midtone color:
Midtone Color of the Palm

In simple terms, the mid-tone color of any object can be referred as the range of hue in between highlights and shades. As we can see clearly from the above picture that the mid-tone color of the skin is nothing but a yellowish pink in color. Which is achieved by adding white to orange. But the actual color is finally achieved by adding Blue to it to make it little desaturate.

Achieving Highlighted Color:
Highlight Color of the Palm

This color is slightly lighter with a more pinkish tone in it. A little bit of White and a pinch of Crimson will do the trick. The final adjustment is always up to you. You can see in the picture that some highlighted area is almost white.

Achieving the Shadow:
Shadow Color of the Palm

This color is not the darkest areas on the hand, but the influence of shadows. You can see the color, in this case, is towards the purplish side. A little bit of Crimson, Ultramarine Blue and a pinch of Yellow Ochre with little White will give the desired tone. It is very easy to compare your own hand as a reference while mixing skin tone. You can directly paint it to compare it. Do whatever works well for you.

But, surprisingly enough, your hand is not uniform in color. The palm color is fairly light than the rest of the hand. In my case, the opposite side of the palm and hand color is quite darker and have lots of yellowish hue in it. Let’s have a look at the next session. 

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