Choosing Colours for Drawing Portraits

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Nadine sent us a photo that she would like to draw and asked for some advice on which colours to choose. Nadine writes:

Hi Colin,

Can you tell me which colours to use for this portrait? Thank you in advance!


Choosing Colours for Drawing Portraits

To listen to or read Colin’s advice click below:

Hi Nadine. Steve sent me the photograph that you want to produce a portrait from asking for some skin colours. Now I’m going to generalise here because it is impossible to give you accurate colours. I’m assuming you’re going to use the ingres pastel paper which is the sand coloured paper that I use. If you’re using anything else like pastelmat these colours would still apply but you would need to use them in a different order.

Anyway let’s look at the ingres. I would use white, white is the most important colour because you’ve got to start the ball rolling and lighten the ingres colour otherwise you’re going to end up with the influence of Tan or sand coming through. So you’ve got to do that you’ve got to use the White. Next colour I use usually is the 132. Now this is a pink. It does tend to make the picture a little bit Pinkie but if you use the white and the pink. Those two colours you can usually get the general tonal value of the picture like that.

I usually use ivory too now Ivory is a good colour to add because it creams the White up a bit. And it also works really well with the pink. Then you need to use some stronger colours. Now this is where we get a little tricky. I almost certainly would have used a 187. In this but 187 is a reddy ochre so you kind of got to work 187 together with the pinky tones to create the effect you’ve got there. To darken it then I generally use a 283 – it’s a very good colour. You’ll also need to use a few stronger pinks as well. Now these are just general colours from there onwards you’ll just have to play it by ear.

It depends on how it how those colours are applied as to how you work your next colours out. My strong recommendation to you is to look at the portraits I’ve already done on the members site. I’ve done a lot of them so I would watch them over again and you’ll see that I repeat the colours that I’ve already told you but there’ll be more. I hope this helps.

As far as the eyes are concerned well you’ve got no indication at all as to what the eye colours are. So one of the problems with portraits if you haven’t got a really good reference picture, they just are dark. Now you would probably know what the colours of the are. They do look like a very dark blue to me but that could be deceiving. But that’s the only difficulty I think you’re going to have with this otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward colour tone, you haven’t got too many dark shadows which can cause a problem. I hope this helps.

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By | 2019-06-24T07:58:34+00:00 June 24th, 2019|Portraits, Tips & Techniques|0 Comments