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The secret to mix skin color

Last Updated:
August 21, 2020

portrait of Rubens' daughter

How to mix skin colored paint?

Every painting student at one time or another get’s stuck with mixing skin. Here is a great tip and “secret” color that will help you paint the most luminous flesh tone you ever have… It really helps to make a luminous flesh tone.

More specifically the highlights on flesh. There was a secret color that the painters of the late 1500’s and particularly the 1600’s used in abundance to produce the most life-like and glowing flesh tones. This color was used to paint the light areas on flesh, especially the highlights that made the flesh “glowing”… The secret color is…Naples Yellow

This is not a bright yellow like the skin on a lemon, but a muted yellow…however it is not a dull color.

I HIGHLY recommend getting a tube of this color. If you have not tried it, you’ll be amazed how your flesh will take on that “glow” that you see in the paintings of the museums. But…a word of caution – there are many companies that make a color called naples yellow, but they just don’t have the same color quality that those old masters used.

Winsor & Newton is a very popular company that makes oil paint, but their naples yellow is not the same color that the old masters called naples yellow.

It just goes to show that every companies version of a color is slightly different. Or sometimes, vastly different.

In all my experience, the best naples yellow I have found is this one. Be sure to scroll down the page and order the one called: “Naples Yellow Light” if you want the color I am talking about.

Using this in your highlights will help you to mix skin colored paint. Of course, knowing the color is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. If you would like me to show you how I use all my colors, become a member of Oil Painting With Ethan

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About the author 

Teaching oil painting over 20+ years. Love to help others reach their potential with oil painting. Keep on learning.

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Copy of Ingres Portrait

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  1. Yes!!! thank God somebody else agrees that Naples yellow gives the skin tone a nice natural glow, nobody at college would agree, so much so they wouldn’t even try.

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