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Watercolor Portrait Of A Son: Beginner’s Guide To Portraiture

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Step 3: Mixing Skin Tone For A Watercolor Portrait


About 10 minutes before painting, make sure you soften your paints by spraying some clean water on them. This will make them easier to pick up. While you wait, you can plan out your concept and composition, especially in terms of color and whether you want hard or soft edges for your watercolor portrait.

Begin with a no. 10 rigger brush, and mix a base skin tone using Yellow Ochre and a little Cadmium Red Purple. Add Burnt Sienna and Umber as well, and touch in some French Ultramarine. Keep checking the values (i.e. light vs dark) and colors in the reference picture, and adjust them as necessary. You can test your colors on some scrap paper before using them.

With your base skin tone, paint the face using the “wet-on-dry” technique. Avoid any white highlights, but cover anything from mid-tones to shadows on the face. For the hair, mix Burnt Umber and Cobalt Blue Hue for a medium brown, and while painting, try to paint in the direction of the curls. Again, it’s fine to leave white gaps for highlights.