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I'm a beginner--what suggestions do you have for painting a realistic watercolor

  1. FranYo profile image59
    FranYoposted 7 years ago

    I'm a beginner--what suggestions do you have for painting a realistic watercolor portrait?

    What are the best watercolor hues to use when painting realistic portraits (of Caucasian skin)?  I just can't seem to get the skin tone right for a teen boy!

  2. jennieden profile image59
    jenniedenposted 7 years ago


    I don't work with water-colours often, but to get any portrait to be realistic, look at the light and the variations of light within the hair, face and importantly the eyes. I also think it's crucial to paint the hair the way it grows, from root to tip. Always check, re check the proportions and look for the shapes within the face and aim to make them the same. Also cross reference the measurements the length of the eye in relation to lips, or lip to chin, or eyebrows, cross referencing helps to ensure everything marries up.
    As for colours when making ur flesh tone have u considered adding blue? let me know the colours ur using I may be able to suggest additional colours.
    Hope this helps you, get back to me if there's anything else smile

  3. FranYo profile image59
    FranYoposted 7 years ago

    Thanks, jennieden - I'm wondering if you painted the thumbnail?  I like how the colors are not realistic and very separated (the orange next to the pale yellow).  Your self-portrait?  Did you actually draw in the separations of colors for 'shading' effect, or just do it as paint is applied?

    I'm fine w/ drawing and have a water-soluble pencil for proportions, but the actual color of the skin tone is difficult.  My first attempt I did monochromatic in blue, but didn't really work out. 

    I need to keep trying, and also buy paints that can be combined to create good tones.

  4. Artist-For-Hire profile image68
    Artist-For-Hireposted 7 years ago

    Ok, I'm not very familiar with watercolours so take my advice with a pinch of salt. (I get on very well with acrylics). I'm curently working on a hub for a similar topic but if you can't wait...

    The trick to mixing colours is to start with the major colour first and very slowly add more colours until you find the right hue. In this case, you want a very pale yellow (an ochre perhaps) with a hint of pink, yeah?

    I have two recipes for "white" skin. Check out the hub "Quilters Keepsake - Artist for hire" ... I used these recipes to paint my sons, you can see a pic there.

    RAW SIENNA + WHITE = a creamy skin tone a little darker than the colour of untreated pine (the wood). I would suggest you try this one first, it's easier to manipulate.

    CADMIUM RED (2 parts) + YELLOW OCHRE (2 parts) + WHITE (3+ parts) = quite a red hue but adding lots of white with: a) touches of Naples yellow, b) touches of burnt umber, c) Cerulean blue makes some lovely tones.

    I then use these master colours to mix several tones. Make highlights by adding more white or more water in your case. Make shadows from adding tiny, tiny amounts of a Cerulean blue, burnt umber and/or a cool red. Did I mention that you need a tiny amount of these colours?

    Depending on your style, faces can be extremely challenging...there are many things that make or break a portrait. Don't be put off though, it may come naturally to you. Have a practice and play around with these recipes and be sure to tell us how you went.