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Flesh tones in acrylics

Discussion in 'Acrylics' started by MacCoy, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. MacCoy Active Member


    I purchased Scale75 flesh paint set recently. I have tried to find right mix for flesh tones but have not succceeded. Anyone got any tips?
  2. Graham A Fixture

    Believe it or not, I actually started with these paints by following the instruction card that comes with it. Very basic but gives a good start. Once you have the base colour on then any subsequent colours should be applied by very thin glazes. This means the paint is very thin and the brush not too wet with paint. Load the brush then wipe across a bit of paper towel to get rid of excess. The effect of glazes may not be apparent until after three or more light coats.

    Let the paint dry between coats, a hairdryer works well to speed it up, or you may start to soften the lower layers which will then 'pull' and go rough.

    There is no quick way, it is just down to loads of practice and if it goes wrong, strip it and start again.

    Ask me how I know....... :(
  3. kansas kid Well-Known Member

    Hi MacCoy: ha ha aha. . . I had to smile at
    the remarks the wise Mr. Graham made above.
    Of course, he is right on the money regarding
    the advice he gave you. I still struggle with doing
    acrylics regarding flesh tones. I try to remember the
    old saying "in Life we learn by doing". And it is the
    same, in my humble opinion, with painting with acrylics.
    And especially for doing the almost transparent layers of
    acrylic washes,a modeler has to put the time in. Trying to
    get the opacity or the transparency just right is not easy.
    Good luck with your journey, Sir. Jayhawker
    Huw63 and garyhiggins like this.
  4. MacCoy Active Member

    Thanks for couraging me Graham & Kansas Kid, I have tried 2-3 times already, will prime 3 figures tonight for another try tomorrow.
    garyhiggins and Scotty like this.
  5. Gary D PlanetFigure Supporter

    As an oil painter afraid to go anywhere near acrylics for flesh painting, Graham's explanation is the simplest and best instructions I think I have read yet on the subject. All hail Graham!
    I've never understood how to apply acrylic paint etc. The SBS's I know of show where to put it and not how to put it with the proper water/paint ratios etc.
    I strip my lousy acrylic paint jobs with SuperClean engine de-greaser I buy at Walmart here in Canada. Needless to say I go through a fair amount of it :confused:
    Gary D
    Huw63, Range Rat and garyhiggins like this.
  6. valiant A Fixture

    For what its worth, I have recently converted to acrylics from enamels and I have found that the colours that work best for me for flesh are Vallejo orange-brown, mixed with ivory in various ratios, from dark to light. Lips mixed with Vallejo Cavalry Brown.

    I have always worked to a tight budget and have never invested in colour sets, although there are many who swear by them. I try to mix all the colours I need by lightening or darkening the basic colour. Just my two penn'th!!

    Chrisr, garyhiggins, Scotty and 2 others like this.
  7. montythefirst Well-Known Member

    I tried these and just could not get on with them i've had my best results using the life color set which i have put in dropper bottles for ease of use
  8. gothicgeek A Fixture

    One key point with acrylics is to mix them well!

    That's in the bottle and in the mixes.

    I pound the bottles on my hand about ten times and then give em a little shake.
    Once in the pallet I continue to stir them every couple of minutes as the pigment can settle.

    As a recent addition I store my Vallejo and Andrea paints on their sides..

    Persevere and you will be get results and learn new skills!!

  9. garyhiggins A Fixture

    Wise man say: You can tell a man afraid of Acrylics when his first priority is "What do you use to strip them???????" :)
    I'm just getting over the lifelong fear that as soon as I touch brush to palette it'll stick like superglue:(:). You can tell I'm an old time oily, can't you:LOL:.
    Best wishes, Gary.
    Huw63 likes this.
  10. Graham A Fixture

    Couple of points from the comments above. Regarding sets verses individual colours. They are all right, it is just a matter of selecting the ones that suit you as an individual. Nothing is wrong, it's all a matter of taste and that comes at a cost and with experience.

    Acrylics do indeed need a good shake before you use them, there is no way out of this. Scale 75 are quite thick and if not shaken enough will leave you with more medium than paint on your pallet. And, yes, a great tip from above is to keep stirring the thinned paint as you can actually see it separating quite quickly.

    I cannot repeat enough, do not overwork the paint it will ruin very quickly.

    Not relative to paint but I have found one thing that improved my painting and that is to find a subject you are really interested in. The more you care for the subject, the more effort you will put into it.

    The better quality of the figure, the easier it is to define the areas that need shade and light and therefore easier to paint.

    There is no such thing as failure, only a lesson learned. If you don't learn from that lesson, you will repeat the mistakes.

    Ask questions but be prepared for conflicting answers as there is no single way of doing it. Learn to extract the advice that suits you but always acknowledge and remember the advice that doesn't as it may do one day as you develop yourself.

    I don't know this because I am clever or a good painter, I know this because I was you two or more years ago and asked the same questions. I know this because of the generosity of people on this forum who have helped me get where I am today and, I hope, will help me to improve a lot more.
    Huw63, ChaosCossack, Chrisr and 3 others like this.
  11. Bailey A Fixture

    You've gotten a lot of good advice already, especially from Graham.

    Here's my basic mix for skin. I'm using Reaper Master Series paints, though these colors are similar to what's in your Scale75 set so I'm sure you can get great results with those paints. I like to start with some reddish browns for my shadows, get a dark pink skin for my midtone, and then go into the paler tones for the highlights. I've moved away from using the reddish browns in their pure form, at most I'm doing 80% reddish brown and 20% rosy shadow. And, as Graham mentioned, nice thin layers to build those transitions.

    I've been using this general mix (with minor changes) for quite a while. It works well for fairer skin types, northern European, etc. Recently I've gone further by added some red, blue, and purple glazes on top of the basic skin tones. This is especially helpful on faces. Some very thin red glazes in the cheeks, tip of the nose, and bottom of the ear brings more life to the face. A thin blue glaze on the lower half of the face can create the look of stubble. I also like to use a purple glaze to deepen some of the shadows in the cheeks and around the eyes. I'll use similar colors on the body (red on the knuckles, elbows, etc, purple or blue in select shadow areas). Play around and see what you like. Remember to keep these glazes thin. I apply 2 or 3 layers before I start to notice a change. Also, when applying thin glazes, the direction of your brush stroke matters. There will be more paint left where you stop your stroke, so think of it as pushing the color towards where you want it to be.

    Here's my basic process on a 54mm face (I use the same approach on 75, 90mm figures and 150-200mm busts). I start out with a base coat of Rosy Shadow, then sketch in the shadows. I add the eyes and then start blending my skin shadows into the midtone and move on to the highlights. The final row of pictures is where I add the glazes. You can see that the 2nd to last row looks fine, but the addition of the glazes makes it look more realistic.

    I've put together some tutorials on painting skin and faces that may interest you.
    Again, although I do share my mixes, I think the paints you've got are fine. Just add in a few colors to what you've already got for the final glazing. Hope that helps!
  12. Graham A Fixture

    That's brilliant Bailey thanks for sharing in such detail. See what I mean about generosity? :)
    Huw63 and Chrisr like this.
  13. ChaosCossack A Fixture

    Some great advice here.
    I've been using a technique I got from a seminar with Alex McCutcheon a few years ago. It's super simple and glazing a la Bailey can be added as well (which I have, thanks David).

    The colours are Vallejo but any brand of similar colors will do. Note, I use Vallejo and Scale 75 but I stick with Vallejo for flesh due to the satin finish.

    • Base the area with beige red. A solid base with reddish undertones.
    • 1st highlight with base plus light flesh.
    • 2nd and 3rd highlights by adding more light flesh to each new level.
    • 1st shadow is base plus burnt cadmium red.
    • 2nd shadow is more burnt cadmium red.
    • Extreme highs and lows can be done with straight light flesh and straight burnt cadmium red.
    • Finally your various glazes and 5 o'clock shadow etc.
    All these layers are particularly thin and need a couple of passes each. If the transitions seem too stark, a glaze of the base colour can be used to correct at anytime during the process.
    Following a seminar with Fernando Ruiz I'm trying some new things with sketching shadows and highlights and adjudting them up and down alternately instead of doing all the hughs then all the lows. Also, working on wet blending the transitions... but this is all still new to me. However, regardless of the techniques, I still use the same colours as I find them to be very natural.
    Good luck, hope you find all of this helpful
  14. MacCoy Active Member

    Thank you all for your tips.
    ChaosCossack and garyhiggins like this.
  15. Viking Bob PlanetFigure Supporter

    I am glad I looked in on this, although I use oils for flesh, I will try acrylics.
    Cheers guy's

    ChaosCossack, Huw63, Graham and 2 others like this.
  16. Graham A Fixture

    Odd that as I am sat here wondering about trying oils again. All I made was a mess last time but at least it was easier to wipe off :)
    ChaosCossack and garyhiggins like this.
  17. Huw63 A Fixture

    This was great. I'm learning acrylics at present and this was very informative.

    Thanks to all.


    ChaosCossack and garyhiggins like this.
  18. Artsupplies New Member

    I am also beginner in Acrylics and trying to learn more and more through online tutorials, books of different artists. i read few lines in a blog that seems good so 'll share with you:

    The different paint brands; even newer and thicker brands of acrylic are available these days. Acrylic paint cannot hold a candle of oils. You can use thickeners with your acrylics, these are additives that can dilute the pigments, but still they do not hold up flow as nicely as oils. So try to use more and more paint to emulate the oil painting texture.

    No matters, in which medium you are working, just treat them the same and do not change your movements or strokes. The only difference is working dark to light or light to dark. Strokes will remain the same.

    One more thing that i learn is Acrylic paint, it needs practice you can see improvement in your work day by day only with practice.
    garyhiggins likes this.

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