How to Make Skin Tone Paint

Last Updated on January 14, 2022 by ellen

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Do you have a hard time making skin tone colors for your children’s art projects? Learn how to make skin tone paint with this guide.

We all know that it is important to teach our kids about different races and cultures. Being able to create art projects with different flesh tones helps make this easier.

Do you have a hard time making skin tone colors for your children's art projects? Learn how to make skin tone paint with this guide.

How to Make Skin Tone Paint

Learn how to create a variety of shades so that you can achieve realistic skin color for many races.

When painting, re-creating the correct natural colors is a tricky task, even for adults. Understanding color mixing is an essential skill to become an accomplished artist and this guide will help your child get started.

For skin tone painting it is even tougher as it requires subtlety and learning to combine enough color to create the perfect effect. Obviously, techniques can help you find the perfect color of skin that you need.

Scroll to the end to find my helpful chart to learn to make basic shades of skin tones. You can mix skin color paints directly on this chart.

Do you have a hard time making skin tone colors for your children's art projects? Learn how to make skin tone paint with this guide.

What are primary colors?

Primary colors are the three colors that can’t be mixed or formed by any other color. They include red, yellow and blue.

What is secondary color?

A secondary color is a mix of two primary colors in equal amounts to form another distinct color such as purple, orange, and green.

Tertiary colors

Mixing a primary color with an adjacent secondary color will create a tertiary color. It is also known as the third level of colors which include yellow-orange, red-purple, blue-green, etc.

acrylic paints and paint brushes on a white background

What colors make skin tone colors?

The color of human skin can vary greatly depending on race, physical conditions, and time of year. For the purposes of painting the following colors are considered to be in the range that represents human flesh tones:

  • Cadmium red light or medium or slightly orangey-pink (warmer than typical roses)
  • Burnt sienna
  • Burnt umber
  • Cerulean blue
  • Permanent alizarin crimson
  • Cadmium yellow light
  • Cadmium orange
  • Thalo blue
  • Cadmium red deep
  • Thalo green
  • Primary yellow (also called lemon)

colorful paint chips on a grey counter

What colors do I need to make skin tone?

It is helpful to have the primary colors that are located in the color wheel above. When mixing you can create a range of colors from the primaries.

When mixing colors to create skin tone remember that you can always add more colors but it is very difficult to remove color without taking away the natural effect. It takes time and practice so be patient with your children as they learn this art form.

What is the best way to mix skin tones?

A color wheel is a great tool for learning how to mix colors when making skin tones.

Starting with the primary yellow, add small amounts of the other primary colors to create darker shades. For example, adding red will give you orange, and adding blue will create green. This is the best way to get realistic skin tone paint that is less garish than if you were to use secondary colors.

Mixing colors with white and black will help you to create different shades of skin tones that are more realistic than using one color alone. Using a combination of colors to achieve the color results in a higher quality paint job as well as helps your children learn about mixing colors properly.

Adding even small amounts of gray can also affect the tone of the paint.

Be patient with your child as they learn this skill. It is best to work on one color at a time so that you can see where the proportions of colors are off and adjust accordingly.

It takes time to learn to make different skin tones.

a chart with different skin tone paints

Where can I find skin color paint?

You can make your own skin tone paint or purchase some. Check out some of these colors to get you started!

The guide below will help you make different skin tones yourself by mixing paint. Or, you can buy acrylic paint that is already premixed.

It may take time to find the desired color if you want to buy paint colors that are already mixed.

How to make realistic skin tones

Painting skin tones takes practice so don’t expect your child to make the perfect flesh tone the first time they try. It’s really about experimentation and learning.

If you are working with a younger child, make sure they have a firm grasp on their primary colors first. To make skin color paint, they will need to be able to identify colors. So, be sure they understand the difference between black paint, titanium white, and blue paint.

Get started creating skin tones

Print out this skin color mixing chart so that your child can experiment with making different skin shades.

By mixing different colors, they will learn to make a lighter shade or darker shade depending on what acrylic paints they put together.

As a basic rule, start with your base skin tone and then add brown or black for a darker skin tone. To make light skin tones, you will need to add white paint or yellow paint to brown paint. Experiment until you have the desired flesh tone for your child’s painting project.

cups with paint and paint brushes

Tips for mixing skin tones

Using a color chart can help you mix the perfect skin tone. If your child is using acrylic paint, it can be helpful to use colors that are premixed to get started. You will need to ensure that the colors they choose are non-toxic and safe for them to work with.

Remember this tip: The darker the shade of skin tone, the fewer colors it will require. The lighter skin tones need more colors to create a realistic effect.

You may also want to remind your child that while they can add more color to get a darker shade, it is difficult to remove color. If you have brown paint and add too much black to darken it, for example, it will become a dark gray rather than a brown.

You can try using white with black to make dark skin tones lighter, but this is often difficult to use in painting and may spread out unevenly compared to other colors which are thicker and easier to control.

Creating rosy cheeks or creating blush tones can be done by adding a very small amount of red to your flesh color. Remember that a vermillion red hue will not look as natural as a blush tone on lighter shades of skin.

Expect color variations

Don’t expect your child to get the exact same skin tone every time. The color will vary depending on the brand of paint or how much they add.

If you notice a large variation in colors, try adding a larger amount of white paint to the mixture next time to lighten it up. If you have added too much black, add more yellow. Keep experimenting until you get the desired color.

It may be easiest in the beginning for them to focus on a darker tone. It’s harder to make a medium skin tone when mixing acrylic paints.

Painting natural skin tones is not always easy, but it will help your child learn about mixing colors properly while they are having fun painting skin colors!

a young girl painting at a table with a brush in hand

Paints for painting skin tones

I find that it’s easiest to make skin color with acrylic paint rather than oil paints. Plus, clean-up is much simpler when you use acrylics.

To make medium skin tones,

Try mixing 2 parts Titanium White, 1 part Burnt Sienna or Raw Umber, and then adding just a touch of Cadmium Red.

To make darker skin tones,

Use Burnt Sienna for an orange-brown base with Raw Umber blended in. To make it darker, add more Burnt Sienna or use Lamp Black or Ultramarine Blue to darken the skin tone.

To make natural tones,

Mix white with cadmium yellow light or mix yellow ochre and burnt sienna to make a natural flesh tone. Add just enough red to tint it slightly pink.

To create rosy cheeks, use vermillion red. Do not add too much at once if you are working with lighter tones. Experiment until you get the desired tone.

Supplies to get started painting skin tones

More painting fun

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