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Painting Shadows on a Female Nude--Gray or Brown?

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Ong, Jun 25, 2021.

  1. Ong Active Member

    I am shadowing and shading a 100% female nude and I am wondering how best to achieve the final touches of dark shadow around the nose, behind the bent knees and elbows, eyes, blond hairline, and the body creases.

    I airbrushed Tamiya Skin Tone to give the figure a peach base and I then proceeded to shade with Flesh Wash and Ink, giving the shade a subtle dark brown tint. Now I'm wondering if I should add Gray Wash and Ink to the arm pits and behind the knees as a kind of line bordering.

    My concern is that adding gray shades would make the figure appear so contrasted, older and make the skin look "dead," and yet when I look at real nude paintings and photos, artists do use light gray. Is gray shading best used when the person is indoors and brown shading best used in the sunny outdoors? Would gray shading be mistaken for body hair?

    The peach flesh tone is so subtle that with any color mistake, I can't respray the Tamiya Skin Tone base coat without messing up the entire highlighting and shading of the figure.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Steve Edwards Active Member

    Try mixing your flesh shading dark tone with green? It's a grey, but not a dead flat grey.

    That's something like veridian green mixed into the skin tone colour. Best of luck!
    DaddyO and Nap like this.
  3. Mike the Swede Active Member

    I would try to use purple/pinkish tones, and build it up carefully. It all depends how you want to portrait the woman, what age, social status, period in history, etc. A female aristocrat from the 18th century would have quite a different complexion compared to a farmer from the same period...
    DaddyO and captnenglish like this.
  4. kagemusha A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Scotty likes this.
  5. fogie A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    The important thing to remember is to mix a warm tone ...grey, brown, touch of
    crimson, whatever - just keep it warm and blend it in:).

    Mike
  6. captnenglish Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    Brilliant answer
  7. Lucas Ferron Active Member

    Country:
    Brazil
    If I may add to the discussion, I recommend reading this article:
    https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-techniques/fleshtones-and-color-temperature/

    Also, there's no 'skin color' both because skin has a lot of different colors (greens, oranges, reds, whites, blacks, violets, blues, etc) and because color is always a function of light and environment.
    You would use wildly different paints to paint the skin of the same person in different environments and under different light conditions.

    I think a good 'trick' is to make the highlights more influenced by the ambient light, so if your subject is under a neutral white light your highlights will move towards neutral de-saturated colors. check vallejo's pale skin as an example, in some 'recipes' pale skin comes after sunny skin tone, a more saturated and organge-yellow color.
    On the other hand, shadows tend to be more influenced by the surrounding environment. Clothing, the ground, furniture, other people, objects, these things will impact which hues will show up in your shadows.
    Finally, depending on the body part you'll have different color profiles. We're used to using reddish tones to the cheecks because it's a highly vascularized.


    uuuh... finally (part 2), if you're worried about ending up with a dead-looking skin, add more red/magenta to the transitions between the midtones and the shadows. This is a tip I got from this video:
    Billy Dickinson and Dr Bison like this.

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