How to Mix Skin-Tones with Watercolor

Hi friends! I get asked a lot about mixing skin-tones in watercolor. That is kind of a loaded topic because really there are many ways to do this and also many different shades of skin. The common aspect to all skin tones is that they are neutral shades. Today I will show you my go to skin tone mixes that will yield a variety of tones and also show you how to use a convenience palette such as Jane Davenports Neutral palette. I will also show you how to mix skin tones from her crazy bright palette to illustrate the point that you can use whatever colors you have to make some pretty nice skin tones (but it takes a lot more work to do that from bright colors!)

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The above example uses colors from a traditional watercolor palette, I like mixing skin tones best from these colors. The next two examples are using the neutral palette from Jane davenport with many convenience colors:

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I don’t know why I made these ladies look so grumpy LOL! And just to prove that you can mix neutrals from any palette I painted the face below with colors from the Jane Davenport Brights palette:

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Want to see the color mixing in action? Then watch the video for a free hour and a half long skin tone mixing workshop!

 

I would like to share my favorite color recipe, you can adjust it as you see fit but it is very versatile!

  • Yellow Ocher (or raw sienna, golden ocher naples yellow deep-any earthy brownish yellow will work)
  • Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber (or whatever rich brown you like, try to find one without black in it if using a mixed pigment)
  • Permanent Rose or Alizerain Crimson (cool red for lighter/cooler skin tones) Cad red, pyroll¬†red, scarlet (warm red for warmer/darker skin tones)
  • Ultramarine blue (this does a bang up job at mixing with brows to make shadows or cool down an area) *Cerulean blue is helpful to mix in to fair cool skin-tones like the example on the bottom right of the first image.

Sometimes you need to add in a green because the blue yellow combo will not give you a nice green, if you do make sure to use it elsewhere, such as mixed with red for a shadow and mixed lightly into the skin color, just remember that red is the opposite so you can use it to tone down any green. Mixing skin-tones will teach you a lot. Not only do you need to learn how to neutralize and balance your colors but also saturation, you need to add water to lighten up a color and omit it for richer darks. It is a wonderful way to develop your skills so I hope you give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and til next time happy crafting!

PS if you found this tutorial helpful please share it with a friend! (Handy sharing buttons below:)

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