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Watercolor Fleshtone Recipes

Watercolor Fleshtone Recipes

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In the February 2011 issue of Watercolor Artist, Suzanna Reece Winton demonstrates her process for painting fleshtones, hair and fabric in 10 simple steps. Here, she shares a couple more of her favorite fleshtone recipes.

Medium-Skinned, Dark-Haired Man
(Note: This is a portrait of Dean Mitchell, another well-known watercolorist.)

Flesh tone recipe:
Paint a wash of yellow ochre over the entire face, followed by a layer of alizarin crimson while the ochre is still wet. Drop in cobalt turquoise light in the highlight areas, mustache and beard.

Switch from yellow ochre to the less-opaque new gamboge. Layer alizarin crimson on top. For the eyelids (upper and lower) and inner corners of the eyes, use a mixture of Winsor yellow and opera rose.

For the darks, mix up two different purples, a light and a dark. For the lighter purple, use cobalt blue and opera rose; for the darker one, use French ultramarine and alizarin crimson.

Repeat layers as needed to get the depth of color you desire.

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Light-Skinned Red-Haired Girl

Flesh tone recipe:
Start with a light wash of Winsor yellow; while that layer is still wet, layer opera rose right over top of it. While still in the wet stage, drop in cobalt turquoise light in areas of the face where you see blue—most often the highlight areas.

Repeat layers as needed to get the depth of color you desire.

To paint the freckles, use the pointillism technique (see below) and alternate between purple mixtures of opera rose and cobalt turquoise light, and French ultramarine and alizarin crimson. Keep in mind that some areas (where the freckles are thick and join together) may appear as shapes more than freckles.

Add additional layers of flesh tone as necessary.

For the finishing touches, use a purple mixture of French ultramarine and alizarin crimson to add more flesh tone on the side of the face. Then use a stronger purple to shade over it to deepen the value to create form and the turn of the face.

Finish your freckles with a dry no. 8 round using a palette mixture of burnt sienna and new gamboge. Use the pointillism technique to put the freckles in where you see them. You won’t have to soften them if your mixture is the right value. If it’s too dark, lighten your mixture or soften your freckles with water.

Pointillism Technique
Tap the tip of your brush onto the painting. Try this with some yellow, then while it’s still wet, tap in some pink, letting it move out freely into the yellow. Rinse out your brush, wipe it off and tap your barely wet brush to soften it into the surrounding areas for a smooth transition of charged color, from one area to another. This technique is much like the pointillism technique used in drawing. It works great for painting cheeks, noses and freckles.

For a complete demonstration of the artist’s process, check out the February 2011 copy of Watercolor Artist.


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Free Download: Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques To Try Today!

Watch the video: Essentials to Mixing Any Flesh Tone:: Painting Skin Colors (June 2022).


  1. Lemuel

    Bravo, very good idea

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