How To Draw Skin – Building Up The Tones


This is my quick guide on how to build up the skin tones in a portrait! When looking at the face, one can see many different shadows and highlights that clearly need to be addressed in a drawing. The picture below shows the colours I would use for the particular skin tone shown above.


The colours include a range of browns (for shadows and darker areas) a few pinks (for tint to the cheeks) and a light peach colour which I use sort of like a base coat.


I use the light peach colour first and lightly apply it to the whole of the face. After this it is easier to blend and build colours on top of it. Make short back and forth movements with the pencil.


Here I have used the less bright of the pink colours. I use this to signal where my darker browns are going to go. I apply a noticeable amount in short back and forth movements, so you can see a slight shadow or indent on the face. The area as shown above is just above the brow, where I will later apply brown.


Here I apply the brown in even smaller back and forth movements. Because I have already applied pink before, the brown goes on smoothly and lightly. I can blend it further by using the peach. I like to make sure I have a pencil with a rounded, not pointy tip for this, as the colour will blend nicely then.


Finally, here I use the brighter pink for the cheeks. I build the colour up using the same colour process, replacing the brown with this pink. However, I don’t apply it with back and forth movements, I make heavier, circular movements.

This whole process is based upon layering, however if you’re going for a more delicate feel, I would suggest to cut back on the amount of colour you are applying to the paper!

I hope this helped a little!

3 responses to “How To Draw Skin – Building Up The Tones

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