Paint a Portrait-Mixing the Colors

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 41,352
    Artist Alexander Shundi explains how to mix up the colors for your portrait.

    Alexander Shundi: Hi, this is Alex Shundi and this is how to paint a portrait. In this clip, I am going to show you how to mix colors in a particular flesh tones. What I would like to do now is to mix a skin tone that is what's called the middle tone meaning that is in between cool and warm, in between dark and light. Now the cool and warm means warm go in towards the reds and the yellows and cools obviously, go in toward the blues and the greens or the dark brown. Now you begin by putting down white and then like a rainbow; yellow, eventually red, eventually brown, eventually blue and eventually green.

    The reason why you do that is so that you have a pretty good understanding as to the chromatic differences according to the rainbow. Another good idea is to actually place your tubes in a same sequence with which you have placed the colors in your palette so that whenever you run out of a color, you can just go directly and grab the tube that will save your some time rather than having to go look for it. Now you begin by putting down a white. This happens to be a pearl marble white which is a very good combination between zinc and titanium and then I am going to put a little bit of yellow which is a cadmium yellow light. If I take the cadmium yellows and the reds, a little bit of Cerulean blue. A little bit of alizarin crimson. A tiny touch of green. It can be green earth and or sap green and mix it all in such a way to approximate flesh.

    At that point, I am going to look at the model, I am going to look at the sitter to average out a tone meaning that I am going to look at her and see which color in her face is the most apparent, is the most middle one. If I want to take a black and white photograph for instance, which one would be an absolute grey? I now mix this middle tone. This is going to be serving as a kind of a pool from which I will then make things that are darker and lighter, warmer and cooler. Have you mixed a generous pool of it? I am going to try to make it a little bit more fluid. You dont have to do that. I am going to take my palette knife, dip it in a little bit of oil and then allow the oil to mix itself with the paint therefore rendering the paint much more creamy, much more easily applicable and easier to flow on the canvas.

    At this point, I am going to try to get a much brighter tone, a lighter and brighter tone for high point reflections that are facing the light. To do that I am going to begin by taking just a tiny bit of my middle tone and adding the brightest and warmest possible color I can. Simultaneously, I may want to now make a cooler tone that is also light. So again, I dip for my middle tone and add a cool tone. What would be a cool tone? Anything except yellow and red in essence, therefore, I am going to take a little bit of green and a little bit of blue. Now remember that whenever you are using white, you are doing two things. Number one is that you are making whatever tone you are adding white to obviously lighter, but you are also making it cooler.

    As you can see, the colors are mixed and so we are going to go on to the next clip where I am going to show you how to put that color down in an underpainting.