Painting Flesh Tones with Layered Glazes by David Soper Part 2

Painting Flesh Tones – the PRELUDE

With Akito’s face painted, see Part 1 Painting Flesh Tones HERE, it was time to turn my attention to the flesh tones on her torso but this would not simply be a matter of repeating the process to achieve a similar effect. Although I would be working with the same colour palette and layered glazing technique that I’d used on the face, the larger area of flesh tones on Akito’s torso presented a new set of challenges.

I’ve found achieving a realistic balance of smooth flesh tones and contrasts to be especially tricky. I needed contrasts that were strong enough to define the form and volumes of the torso but with the subtlety I particularly wanted for this project. Unlike painting monstrous flesh, there is no way to hide any imperfections behind textures or special effects! Thankfully layered glazing is a good way to carefully build up colour depth and contrast without compromising subtlety. I just needed to be patient and persistent. As a result of working on this larger area of flesh tones, I’ve further refined my thinking. When painting the face I said ‘I needed to create a smooth and subtle blend of my colours’ but I now think a more accurate term would be a ‘soft and subtle blend’!

The image at the start of this small post is where we left off before, so let us now take it to the next step.


Although it is not inappropriate to paint Akito’s flesh smoothly I think that effect could be taken too far. After all skin is not perfectly smooth, instead it has a definite set of textures and painting flesh tones in miniature should ideally replicate reality that we observe. If I were to achieve a perfectly smooth, flawless finish I think Akito would look like she’s made from some type of synthetic material. While that could be an interesting idea in itself it’s not what I want to achieve with this project. Rather I want her flesh to look soft, smooth and alive. I think a little texture and ‘imperfection’ will help create that illusion. To that end I’ve worked some (very) subtle stippling in with my layered glazes and allowed some brush marks to remain just visible in the highlights.

Now this could all be an elaborate excuse for not managing to achieve perfectly flawless (and rather boring in my opinion) blends in my flesh tones, but it really isn’t! Instead it reflects my changing opinions as I continue to develop Akito’s paint job and my own experience. As it turns out old dogs can learn new tricks!


Painting flesh tones to Akito’s torso went rather smoothly and its now time to think about blocking in base colours for the other parts of the bust. In retrospect it could have been a good idea to do this earlier as it will help in creating the overall balance of colour and contrast. Once I have the base colours blocked in I may have to adjust the contrasts in the flesh tones, but I hope not! Before I started painting I’d decided on an overall scheme featuring strong contrasts between a dark costume, pale skin and bright hair, so I knew what I was aiming for.

Painting Flesh Tones

skintone is finished – now to block in some more colours

I hope to be able to show you some drastic developments in this project in the next part, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading