Friday, March 24, 2017

Question about Flesh Tones

Thomas DuVal asks: any tips for getting realistic skin tones with watercolor? I'm having a hard time with my portraits looking lifeless, or like dolls. Thanks!

Tom Lovell, oil 
Thomas, here's what one of my heroes, Tom Lovell, said I when asked him the same question (about oil): 
"Keep in mind that flesh tones are essentially quite neutral. If they are overstated, figures tend to look like painted dolls. Avoid lavish use of highlights. Avoid heaviness. Try reducing chroma with complementary color."  
John Gannam, watercolor
The same principles apply if you're working in watercolor. Keep the chroma down, use simple lighting and modeling, and look for other kinds of contrasting textures around the skin in the same light.

Anders Zorn, watercolor

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Steve said...

Contemporary artist Paul McCormack has written something that may be useful:

DamianJ said...

To get an idea of how desaturated flesh tones are - a Google image search for 'neutral makeup palette' is rather informative.

Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

That Gannam painting is stunning.