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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Quick recipes: Painting caucasian flesh

So my dad asked me how to mix a flesh tone. My first thought was, "Well I use Foundry Flesh 5a-c." Then I got to thinking about a question asked by many mini painters: "Who makes a good flesh tone?"
I think we take for granted what many paint manufacturers offer us for caucasian flesh tones. Most of us (me included) look through different companies' palettes seeking the perfect flesh tone, and there are a few good ones out there. But, if you really want the "perfect" flesh tone, you can mix it quite easily yourself with three simple colors: Yellow, Red and White. Any yellow, yellow ochre and even light brown will work- the darker ochres providing for darker flesh shades. And the same for red; any red will work, light to dark. Different shades will result from different reds and yellows as well as from the differing proportions in which you mix your yellow, red and white. A little experimentation is all you need. Sometimes, a touch of blue helps to kill the "orangeness" of some combinations, but use very little blue. The blue is a powerful pigment and will muddy up your mix quickly if you're not careful.

The illustration I provided shows three mixes: one for a shade, one for the middle color, and one for the highlight. The swatches to the left show, roughly, the proportions of colors I used. The color swatches shown to the right are the Foundry premixed flesh equivelants I tried to match. The matches are not perfect, but you get an idea of all that you need to get a decent flesh tone.


  1. Carmen! Hey, good info. My favorite Caucasian skin color was produced by Ral Partha paints. I'm pretty sure that the paint I am using was bought around 1991-92. I picked up 3 bottles, and at present I am on the last one. It's really good, but I fear it's time is nigh. Some of the Partha paints, which I still have about a dozen left in working condition, seem irreplaceable.

    I was disappointed with Vallejo's caucasian color. Too yellow. It's a bit of work to get rid of the yellow tone too.

    I own a couple of Foundry paint sets and am quite happy with them. There is no retailer in the area that carries that line, so they are a little harder to get. Perhaps Foundry Flesh 5a-c may be worth a try.

    Mixing fresh colors is fairly new idea for me! It's something I have been experimenting a little with, and more experience doing it would be a good thing.

    Thanks for this tip.

    Take care,
    Dave S.