Use These 4 Colors to Paint Any Skin Tone

Sometimes less is more...

When picking colors, It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the full spectrum available to us. Though it may seem counterintuitive, it can actually be a great help to strip back the amount of colors we allow ourselves to paint with.

Let’s take a look at how we can use just four colors to paint any skin tone we want…

Watch the Full Tutorial:

Tutorial Summary

This technique is based on the palette of Swedish artist Anders Zorn, who was renowned for using just four colors to paint skin: white, black, crimson red and yellow ochre.

How to Paint Skin Tones 01

The only 4 colors you need to blend any skin tone

1. Begin by blending a mix of red and ochre

Painting Realistic Skin Tones Step 1: Blend a mixture of red and ochre

2. Use the eyedropper to sample the result, and lay down a base layer

Painting Realistic Skin Tones Step 2: Use the eyedropper to sample the result and lay down a base color

3. Use a touch of white to add some highlights

Painting Realistic Skin Tones Step 3: Add some highlights with white

4. And black for the shadows

Painting Realistic Skin Tones Step 4: And add shadows with black

5. Watch the full tutorial to see the technique explained in detail

Watch the full tutorial to see the technique explained in detail

It’s as simple as that…

Happy painting, and make sure to send us your results!

If your skin tone colors aren’t looking the way you’d like them to, here’s a trick you can use to tweak them quickly and easily:

Paint Flawless Skin tones - Color exercise

Free Download:

  • The 4 colors you need to paint ANY skin tone
  • Paint freckles & beauty spots
  • Mix your own custom colors like the pros
  • Exercise sheet to get you started

Paint ANY skin tone with these 4 colors!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more digital painting tips, tricks and tutorials:
Recent Posts on Paintable:
Leave Your Thoughts:

17 thoughts on “Use These 4 Colors to Paint Any Skin Tone”

  1. very cool tuto and amazing palette!!!
    very effective!!
    I had a lot o fun trying this.

    Ps: It would be great if you guys create an original tool preset library that we can reload everytime you share new brushes… (just easier to store them all). ^_^.

    Thanks again!!

    Reply
    • It’s based on the colors by Zorn, as explained in the video. You can download the palette along with another tutorial in the free download “How to Paint ANY Skin Tone in Under 5 Minutes” at the top of the post 🙂

      Reply
  2. This was so helpful! I had to make two characters with 2 different skin tones for a client and was able to quickly get the skin tones for the second character by using this tutorial.

    Reply
    • Hi, Lulu! We’re so glad that you were able to use the training and get the skin tones that you needed for your commission! David really does help break down this skill into something way easier to understand with great results!

      Reply

Leave a Comment



Where Can We Send Your Exercise files?

Join our newsletter, get the Zorn Palette Exercise as a welcome gift! 🎁

Your privacy is our top priority, and we promise to keep your email safe! For more information, please see our privacy policy.

Where Can We Send Your Free Brushes?

Join Our Newsletter And Get Our 28 Portrait Brushes As A Free Welcome Gift 🎁

Your privacy is our top priority, and we promise to keep your email safe! For more information, please see our privacy policy.