Adding Skin Colors to Your Portraits
By L. S. Irish
For the steps to complete the coloring for your Wood Burned Fireman please see:
Working With Watercolors
Creating a realistic coloring for the skin tones on either a wood carving or wood burning project can sometimes seem a challenge. This project will work you step-by-step through both the color mixes that you will use and their appropriate shading areas.
For this project I am using watercolors over a wood burning. The watercolors are extremely translucent so the burning does not become cloudy or thick from the color application.
Practice this technique of a scrap board before you go to your finished project. For each step, the watercolors that you mix need to be thinned heavily with water. Since you are working on basswood or pine the wood will absorb the color quickly. By using extremely thin coats you can easily add more toning by applying extra layer.
Some notes on the skin structure of a human:
What we call skin is made up of multiple layers of thin tissue. Each layer of tissue carries a small amount of pigmentation making them translucent. There is some coloring but the layers are not opaque, you can see through the skin to the bone and blood vessel structures below. Remember that kid’s trick of putting a flashlight under you hand so that the light showed through and you could see some of the bones, tendons, and veins!
So now we know that you can see through the skin. Bones which are a whitish-blue tone, blood vessels which have a dark blue tone, and muscles which are a medium red-brown now affect the coloring that you see on the skin’s surface, because they show through the skin.
The tighter the skin lays over the bone the whiter that area will be, the center ridge of the nose; the top edge of the chin, the forehead area. Areas of skin that cover muscles will take on a red-brown tone; the jaw area, under the chin and the neck. Skin that goes over large blood veins will pick up the blue coloring, the veins in the temple region, the inner corner of the eye where it meets the nose ridge. Those areas that have a large supply of fine blood capillaries will have a red coloring, the tip of the nose, the tip of the ears, and the cheek areas, any area where you blush.