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Watercolor portrait: How do you actually mix “skin color”?

From extra sausage to meat colors

Of course I could be happy without sentimental clouds of memories, but I don't want to. This is how I remember the subject of watercolor portraits and "Skin color“Stante pede to the Jolly colored pencils from my elementary school days. Failure was no longer a problem. For once, it wasn't me, but these simple-minded Jolly pens. The one with the number 10 called himself auspiciously "Flesh color“But it was so disgusting that he was the only one who, after years of crayon career, was still as long as it was at the beginning. In contrast to the wonderful “cherry red”, which ultimately lived as a pathetic mummy in the metal box. (For our 3-SAT viewers: Stummerl = leftover, short piece of an elongated object). All that could be achieved with this Jolly pen was a pink piglet with a pale old extra sausage tone.

Finally grown up and colorful

But today I have recovered from this disaster, I can use super cool make-up watercolors and enjoy an expanded color wheel horizon. So how do we find the right face and neck color for our young Roman? What color is skin actually? And why are they called "incarnate"? (Latin: carnis = meat).

As you can see in the two photos below, you work in very delicate layers with the watercolor portrait, too Glazes called. It is better to use a glaze that is too light than one that is too dark. Erasing is not. Unfortunately. As soon as Skin color 1 (left) is dry, you can Skin color 2 (right) apply. Take a close look at where the shadows are in the photo and where the light hits. And always work slowly. Skin color is made up of many different colors. You're usually right with burnt sienna, ocher, English red and a touch of purple.

It mixes two different skin tones right at the beginning, one lighter and one darker, so that you don't have to laboriously “remix” while painting. The best thing to do is to mix all the colors you want to use on a large plastic palette.

  • Skin color 1: Ocher, English Red, Burnt Siena & Ultramarine Blue
  • Skin color 2: Ocher, English red, burnt sienna & more ultramarine blue
  • violet: English red, ultramarine blue and sepia brown
  • Blue-gray: Payne's Gray & Sepia Brown
  • sepia: Sepia
  • Ocher green: Ocher & ultramarine blue (or gold green glaze)
  • and possibly some burnt sienna, neutral ink, Payne's gray and mountain blue

A well-stocked one Watercolor box you get from Schmincke at idee.dehere* (The product link remains limited to Germany due to Covid)

A couple of good ones Synthetic brush for watercolor painting you get at idee.dehere* (The product link remains limited to Germany due to Covid)

And here below are the mixing results from the above list:

How to bring eyes to life

The eyes of the watercolor portrait are the heart of the picture. As soon as the person begins to “look out of the picture”, almost everything is won. For me it is the moment when I draw in the reflex light: the moment of birth so to speak. Start with the iris in soft Payne's gray. Then shade with ultramarine blue. As you can see (photo 1) I have already left the areas where the light is reflected free. You can also paint on the light reflections afterwards with opaque white, which saves nerves at times. Once everything is dry, you can use one pencil Draw the eyelids with thickness B and use them to create shadows on the upper eyelid. Then you dab with one Paper wipers (Estompen) something graphite down on the white eyeball. About halfway - as a shadow of the upper eyelid and eyelashes. You can also draw the pupil with a pencil.

Light & shadow

On the picture below you can see the template photo and two black and white printouts of the photo. With this you can quickly determine where the strongest shadows of the face must be. Make quick one-line sketches of the face with a felt-tip pen to get a better feel for the tonal values.

The nose

The nose always consists of 3 "knobs", two for the nostrils and one for the tip of the nose. This photo shows the model not at eye level, but from slightly below. So you can see the nostrils more than normal and the tip of the nose is in the shadow. Keep this in mind while painting your nose.

The mouth

Try to paint the upper and lower lip in a different color, this creates more plasticity. Save the highlight on the lower lip so the paper can show through. I used English red as the main color, but of course you can indulge in all sorts of reds. Feel free to experiment!

The beginning at the end

Here you can see the preliminary drawing in pencil and a template for download. You can stick them on a window and pause. But only if you thin Used watercolor paper, like me. I mostly paint on 100 gram Ingres paper, that I with Wallpaper moldingr on a Wooden panel wind up. This way I avoid the curling of the paper due to too much moisture.

Watercolor portrait: The victory of China ink

When everything is dry, first relax. Because we use Chinese ink for the clothes and hair of the young Roman. These Nan King Indian ink is a deep black drawing ink with a great depth of tone on an acrylic basis. It is waterproof, lightfast, economical, flows out of the pen for a long time and does not drip. If you accidentally knock them over, it won't help you either. Therefore: relax! 🙂

With a thicker one Hair brush (about size 10) you apply this ink very gently and patiently to the large surface of your clothing. You will see how intense this ink is. you covers with a stroke of the brush. And it dries so evenly that you won't see a brushstroke in it. Excellent!

Of course, you can also paint with black gouache paint, but the effect won't be quite the same. Then you paint the hair all over with a few feathery strokes outwards. I think that gives the portraits a more modern feel. What do you think?

I hope I was able to inspire you to try a watercolor portrait yourself. When it comes to skin color, it seems important to me that skin is never one and the same color, but always off multiple shades consists. In art one calls the skin color "Incarnate". If you at Egon Schiele If you look, you will see that his faces are always made up of very strong colors: intense red, dark blue, yellow olive, pea green, you will see everything in these faces. By the way, this is a good practice area. I also have some parts in on the right side of the face Gold green glaze and very bright violet laid out, can you see it? Just try bravely!

I look forward to your comment! (Now that the comment function finally works again! I'm so GLAD !!)

Have a nice evening wherever you are!

Your dodo

p.s .: Conny, wouldn't that also be something for your painting group? 🙂

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