Skin Tones: Advanced Painting – Step by Step

In that new painting article, we will see how to paint skin tones, with advanced technics. Advanced technics ? Yes, we ‘ll see how to make your figures skin tones looks real, with nice shades and highlights, with a quite simple method.
In that example, we will paint a black skin dark tone. In the end of the article, I’ll give you paints references for other ethnic origins.

First step – Base coating :


For our figure, wich represents a black athlete with a quite dark tone skin, we will base the skin parts of it with a medium brown acrylic color. Here I use a “Coat d’Arms Hairy brown” paint, a great figures dedicated UK acrylic paint. So…Simply paint the figure skins part with it. You can use any other acrylic paint brand, but choose a medium tone brown.

Second step – Basic shading :


Once the base coating is dry, cover the skin painted parts with a brown dark ink. I use a “Vallejo Game Sepia Ink” for it. I use it not diluted. (when you diluted an ink  with water, we call it a “wash”, when we use ink not diluted, we call it… an “ink”).

Apply that ink coat on the skin.Since the ink is very liquid, it will spread naturally in the figures hollows. When you shade a figure, you want to make the hollows darker.

Once it’s dry, you can make another coat (especially in the muscles and face hollows) or simply go to the third step !

Third step – Basic highlights :


Now, we ‘ll do the basic highlights on the figure. We want to make the edges of the figure lighter, in opposition to shading process. So apply some light brown paint touches on the figure skin edges (muscles , for example). You can also “draw” fake details where there is no detail, to artificialy improve the figure sculpt (like on the hands, for example), and to make the figure more spectacular.


For that stage, I use a “Vallejo leather brown” paint. Choose a similar brown paint (“leather” tone”).

Fourth Step – Second shading :


You can see on the last step that the highlights are maybe a little too contrasted with the shades. To fix that issue, simply do another ink  (or water diluted ink, called “washes”) coat on the entire skin parts.

Last step – Final shading :


The last step will add a nice finishing touch to the figure skin. Take the same ink than before, and a very thin brush (3/0 or 5/0). Now, apply some ink only in the figure skin hollows (between the fingers, between the diferent muscles, etc, etc…). You want to add some contrast on your figure. Be carefull to stay focus when you make the ink touches : you don’t want to make the highlights disapears !

Here’s the final result :


Conclusion :

We saw here how to paint  black skin, dark tone. Of course, you have to adapt the technic to other ethnic origin skin colors. Here is a little painting guide to help you on your choices :

Black skin -light tone :

base color : medium brown (“Coat d’arms Hairy brown”) – highlight color : light brown (“Vallejo game color leather brown”) – ink : Sepia wash (“Citadel washes Gryphonne Sepia”)

White skin – light tone :

base color : light flesh (“Citadel Elf flesh”, for example) – highlight color : light flesh (“Citadel Elf flesh”) – ink : Sepia wash (“Citadel washes Gryphonne Sepia”)

White skin – tanned tone :

base color : tanned flesh (“Vallejo or Citadel bronzed flesh”) – highlight color : light flesh (“Citadel Elf flesh”) – ink : Sepia wash (“Citadel washes Gryphonne Sepia”)

Islands tone (hawai, fidji, new zealand) :

base color : beige (“Vallejo game color Bone white”) – beige (“Vallejo game color Bone white”)   – ink : Sepia wash (“Citadel washes Gryphonne Sepia”)

A little example of what you could do for some other skin tones



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Comments (3)

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  1. Coach k-lo says:


  2. Lynn says:

    You are going to be the MFCA Man of the Year if you keep these kind of articles up! Excellent description…easy to follow….and I learned something!

  3. PraiseDaddy says:

    Thanks, great info!!!

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