ewhee 🌼

ewhee 🌼



Coloring Tutorial for Skin! I'm not a professional but I'm making this thread as a collection of things I've learned in years of digital art, putting tips and the process together to maybe help others interested :)

ok this is geared towards semirealism and a more painterly look, so some parts might not apply for stylized colorings. Majority are just suggestions but I will try to explain most things more in depth! Also most techniques apply to everything & not just skin

1. Color picking A very basic skin palette should have around 5 colors. Base tone, 2 shadows, blush, highlight. These greatly depend on the color of the lightsource and setting, but generally they are around this area of the color picker, nothing too saturated or too bright

For the base tone, opt for something mild and not too saturated. For shadows, I usually go towards red in hue, darker and more saturated than the base. While for highlights it's the opposite; more yellow, brighter, less saturated. Imagine it as going diagonally down in a curve

To be more believable, none of these colors should have the same hue or the same saturation. Moreover, if you more or less know what you're doing you should alternate beetween a variety of tones based on skin zones and environment reflections so it looks more dynamic or realistic

The saturated blush color is important in making skin look less plastic- it shows it's translucent with blood underneath. Blush should be in flushed areas where blood is more visible (cheeks, chest, ears, shoulder), as well as in between the shadows and highlights in direct light

2. Brushes / textures I usually use a hard brush to put down the shading structure first then blend and detail with a softer airbrush. I dislike using color mixing brushes for skin- a brush that layers on top of itself works best since it helps me build up the shadows gradually

For more a painterly look skin should be formed of small color gradients, not just flat color blocks. To do that I try to press very lightly (or use low 10-30% opacity) and go from a bigger area to gradually smaller darker area. Don't do the dark detailed parts first, build it up

To blend, I use a soft brush to put the colors down and eyedrop in the new tones formed until theres a good transition. I don't recommend using a blending brush bc its hard to refine shapes. Airbrushing takes more time but you're more in control so it usually looks better imo

Skin usually has a lot of soft blended edges, but to create interest and catch attention you should include harder edges and structure too. These happen where shadows are cast (e.g when the head casts a shadow on the neck), if the light source is strong (e.g direct sunlight) etc

3. Shading First decide on a light source for the page so that you have an idea for where to shade. Shadows follow the opposite direction from where the light source is (eg light from the top right, shadows are on the bottom left. light from the front, shadows are on the sides)

As example, here I followed Muratas shading and did a soft natural light coming from above-front (ignoring the green effect I'll worry ab later). So I shaded mostly on the sides of her limbs, added blush color to the transition, then highlights around the middle part of her limbs

For shading, think of skin in terms of anatomy and geometrical shapes. Some places will be more concave & dark (eyesocket) and some more convex & bright (cheekbone). The shape facing the light more will always be lighter. Use a mirror or a photo to reference irl skin and study it

In the end this is how my layers look. The flat skin color, a shading layer clipmasked to it (use 3 layers with light shade>dark shade>light if ur unsure), a normal layer above the page with the blending & details, a soft light layer above it to help fit the colors into the scene

So I followed the basic skin palette I made earlier which fit into natural lighting. However taking into account the intensity and color of the green light, the skin should be a lot more yellow and have some yellow/green light from the sides, looking more like the 2nd pic

In this example I did the edit with a mixture of overlay and soft light layers, and a variety of adjustment layers until it looked good and fit to the rest. Normally I'd start out with those instead, but I wanted to show you should edit colors according to the environment & light

A lightsource also has color and intensity, which affects how you should pick and shade. Sunlight has mostly warm, saturated colors and colder shadows which reflect the blue sky. Sunset light is not intense but has a strong orange color, so skin is darker with orange highlights

Note on coloring darker skin: main difference I know is that dark skin is more reflective to light, so the highlights will be more pronounced and contrasting to the base than the shadows. I'd suggest using two highlight tones, one of which is very strong and put in small areas

takeaways ! Change hues when changing tones. Warmer highlights (yellow, orange) and colder shadows (red, purple) work well Go in a curve toward shadows being more saturated than the base Make the colors and shading fit your set light source Use references and think about planes

Okay that's pretty much it!! I'm sorry if this was too long and hard to follow, I'm not the best at explaining things clearly and also tried to gear it toward people with some experience in coloring / digital art. If anything is unclear don't hesitate to ask here or DM me <3

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