Some Basic Ideas About Painting Figures, Hair, and Flesh Tones

Now we’ll switch from drawing to painting. This section covers a few things for you to remember as you strive to do your best painting on your character work. One of the most confusing aspects of painting a character is how to paint good flesh tones. Let’s learn some of the secrets of painting good flesh tones. A certain young art student wanted to know the “secret” formula for painting good flesh tones. He of course tried all the available tube mixtures, but he generally got awful results. This student finally thought he had found the secret one day when he stumbled on the oil color burnt sienna. What a great color. Burnt sienna can be mixed with white and will give you this beautiful, peachy flesh color. Unfortunately, using this color led to unexpected results. The paintings had a boring and unrealistic feel to them. The student had not yet found the secret formula, because there is no secret formula.

The following are some hints and tips to help you “paint” your characters better:

There are no secret formulas for flesh colors: Flesh color varies greatly from person to person and from different locations on the body. In traditional painting, all your flesh colors can be mixed with a red, yellow, and cool color (blue, green, black, etc.). Though you don’t mix colors digitally the same way, the reasoning would be the same; you should use cooleddown pinks, oranges, and yellows.

Generally speaking, make the flesh tones of your male characters darker than those of your female characters: In most ethnic ranges, you can almost always get away with slightly lighter skin for your female characters.

The general complexion for a figure is found in the chest area: As you move out along the figure, the flesh tones become ruddier and darker. The hands, feet, elbows, and knees are distinctly redder and darker in appearance than the skin color in the center of the chest.

The face can be divided into three zones of color: From the hair line to the eyebrows is a zone of golden color. From the eyebrows to the bottom of the nose is a zone of red color. From the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin is a zone of blue or cooler color. These zones of colors should be played up much more in male characters than in female ones.

Look for highlights: You can find them in the following locations: the bridge  and tip of the nose, the corners of the eyes, the corner where the nostrils meet the face, the upper lip, the corners of the mouth, and the chin. Highlights are almost always in these spots, with slight variations. They can act like signs on a map to help you make sure that your features are properly located.

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