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Painting Skin Tones

How to Make Skin Tones in Acrylic

1. Create a Palette With the Primary Colors: Yellow, Blue, Red

White and black are optional. Have a photograph or reference image handy for the tone you are trying to attain.

2. Mix Together Equal Parts of Each Primary Color

Just about every skin tone contains a little yellow, blue and red, but in different ratios. Once you’ve done this a few times, you might start with more of one color or another. But to start, go ahead and mix equal parts of each primary color with a palette knife.

Your outcome will likely be somewhat dark. This is a good thing! In general, it’s easier to make skin tones lighter with acrylic than darker.

3. Now it’s Time to Refine Your Color
As noted above, if you’ve mixed equal parts of each color, the blue in particular has probably made the color mix quite dark. Initial adjustments will be clear: if you need to make the skin lighter, add white or yellow. If you need to make it more reddish, add more red.

Once you make these obvious tweaks, you’ll have the opportunity to refine, adding a little bit of this color, a little bit of that, until you’ve attained the exact tone you’re looking for.

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