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Light and Shadow in Skin Tones

In this tutorial I begin with some color theory about skin tones and how we perceive light and shadow. Then I move into how to mix flesh tones using the 3 subtractive primaries, and why you are better off not using black to create shadow areas. Use complements instead. I end by creating a color sketch.

Materials and tools used in this tutorial:

Moleskine® sketchbook

Winsor and Newton® watercolor: Purple Rose Madder, Alizarin Crimson, Primary Blue (cyan) and Naples Yellow

Winsor and Newton® gouache: Ivory Black

M. Graham® gouache: Yellow Ochre


Disclaimer: I use my own materials and tools in this tutorial.


Alvalyn Lundgren

Alvalyn Lundgren is the founder and principal of Alvalyn Creative, an independent consultancy providing brand strategy design and bespoke illustration for more than 30 years. She is the creator of Freelance Road Trip — a business school and podcast for creative freelancers. She teaches design and design practice on the college level with design schools and programs.

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