Chris Saper: How To Paint Skin Tones In Oil Paints

Saper uses three models in this video art tutorial to highlight how to paint and notice subtleties within skin tone. The models are a young blond haired Caucasian, brunette Caucasian and a lady with dark skin containing red tones.

She approaches all three models with the same strategy which is having them pose in the directional light of her choice to then literally mix up her oil paints in front of them and match the hues to the subjects. She uses a small trowel palette knife to mix a variety of colors including raw umber, cadmium yellow medium, ivory  black, and ochre amongst other paints to attain her desired palette before logging them in her sketchbook for reference when she takes on the painting from the photograph back in her studio.

She talks around the models allowing you to see which areas are of greater cool tonal value and which areas are more relevant for illuminating with a highlighting hue. The whole procedure is very professional and is a great starting block for her to project her eventual oil paintings.

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    1. Very interesting, however if you could elaborate more on why you chose such a dark environment to pick your colors would be a great help. Do you paint under strong light and shadows ? does that give you a better outcome? Thanks for the video.

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    2. Very good question on lighting. Chris does use different lighting depending on what mood she wants. She has a video on cool lighting and another on warm lighting–both are portrait demos and both go into depth on how to set up the lighting and the model. Chris sets up the lights so there are changes on the model’s face that will describe form.

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