How to Paint Flesh Tones

How to Mix Flesh Tones Limited Palette

Keeping it Simple

Mixing flesh tones can be a bear, and anyone who's tried painting a portrait knows this. I've found a streamlined process for getting accurate flesh tones while keeping things SIMPLE. Above is a pic of my palette, with the colors that I use for any model with fair skin. I've marked the paints so you can see them more easily.

The Power of a Limited Palette

Those colors above are white, a version of yellow, a version of red, and a version of blue—so the 3 primaries + white. (The Swedish painter Anders Zorn made the limited palette similar to this one famous for painting portraits, and his paintings in person have so much life to them!) Because the human head doesn't have any super-saturated colors in it, a limited palette like this is the PERFECT solution for getting the colors you want and not getting confused about which colors to use where.

Here's a glimpse of me showing how to mix flesh tones for fair skin:

Modifying Your Limited Palette

I love to work from a variety of models, and I found the limited palette above works great for fair skin but not for brown skin types. So when I'm painting brown skin, I use the same above palette but add burnt sienna or transparent oxide red. Here's what that looks like on my palette:

How to Mix Flesh Tones Modified Limited Palette in Oil Paint

And here's this palette in action:

How to Mix Flesh Tones in Oil Paint Using a Modified Limited Palette

We'll be doing both these flesh tones exercises together in my upcoming Painterly Portraits course, which will be releasing soon! 🎉 Inside the course, I'll be showing you exactly HOW I mix these colors together in order to get accurate flesh tones for a variety of models, as well How to Draw Accurately, Correct Proportions, a Stroke-by-stroke Demonstration of a portrait painting start-to-finish, and so much else! Let me know if any questions by contacting me here, and if you'd like to get notified when this course becomes available, you can join my monthly email club here. Happy painting!



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