Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Skin Colors - part 1

Since we are going to Anime Expo this week I am going to be covering some topics that are really important not just to stampers, but for the manga artists. The most common question
I get asked all the time- What is the best skin color?

The easy answer: E00, Skin White
The hard answer: It depends on what you consider a skin color. If you haven't noticed, people all over the world have different skin colors. E00 is our most popular skin color in America, since this is a generic pale Caucasian skin. The Natural Blending family for E00 would be E0000 + E00 + E02

These examples I'm showing today are from a special color chart I made last year for Anime Expo. At comic shows like this skin tones are VERY important, so it helps to compare and see what feel you want for your artwork. Just a word of caution, these colors look different on your screen than they do in real life. It is nearly impossible to get accurate skin colors on the computer from marker drawings because the skin colors are so subtle.

The first color groups are in pairs, so you can see that a good skin image has a highlight and a shadow.

Rule of thumb: The trick is to pick a base color, usually ending in 0 or 1, like E00. For a subtle shadow, keep the letter and first digit the same, but go about 2 digits higher, like E02. There are lots of "skin" colors, but here are the most common:

The first image shows the sequence E0000 to E04- basic Caucasian skin. See how each combination is just a hair darker than the one before? The pale colors look a little yellow on my screen, but the darker combo, E02 and E04 looks more correct. IRL, I consider these a hair too pink for adult skin, but otherwise, not a bad, all-purpose match for skin colors.

The next group are the E11 thru E15. I personally love the E11 as a shadow (see the 3 color combos at the end of this post), but as you can see, it makes a great base color too. It's a little darker than most Caucasians, and it has a bit more deep red, but as you get into the darker combos it looks authentic for Native Americans.

This next group includes E21, another good, all-purpose skin color. E25 is the next in the group, which is a large color jump (I really want a E23 someday!) E50 thru E53 are a close match for adult, slightly olive-skinned people. Another sequence I didn't show is the E53 + E55, a good, darker Eastern skin color combo. The E93-E95 group is very pink, so I probably would use these as shadows to other colors, not as skin by itself. They would also make good blush colors that are more earthy than R20 or R30.

The last group includes the YR's. The pale YR000 is a great, very light base skin color, but once you get up to YR02 it starts to get orange real quick. R000 also is a great super pale skin color (with the pink tone it almost looks unhealthy, transparent skin colored). Ro2, Flesh, is way too pink to use as a base skin color, though as a shadow, it's not bad. R02 is really close to flesh- not skin, but the flesh underneath.

These aren't bad as a quick representation of basic skin color groups, however, many of these look a little flat. To really punch up the dynamic colors in skin it helps to add a 3rd level if marker. This last bunch of faces show how 3 colors make skin really "Pop"

Look at the first two faces closely. The first color combo is my current favorite. However, by adding an R20 to the second face instead of the E11 it gives it just a hint of healthy pink, instead of deeper earthy shadows.

Look at the E11 + E13 + E15 face and compare it to the E11 + E13 and the E13 + E15 face above. See how using 3 colors makes it more exciting than just 2?

E25 + E27 + E29 is a great, deep African skin combo. Compared to the E13/E15 it has much less red. The olive-skinned E50's are really a lot more dynamic when you make a 3 color sequence by skipping one of the shades (E53). Do you see how using darker shadows makes the light seem brighter? Working with your own colors see what combos you can create.

So a quick rundown of each color:
Light Skin colors (these tend to end in 0 or 1)
E0000 (almost clear)
E50 (good neutral skin color)
R000 (pinkish)
YR000 (orangish)

Slightly darker

Darker skin shadows

Dark African Skin
E25 base, E27 shadows

Dark Native American Skin
E13 + E15 + E17

Eastern Skin
E51 + E53 + E55

Pale Western Skin
E50 + E51

Light, Pinkish Baby skin
E0000 + E00
E000 + E01
E00 + E02 (note how these three combos get a hair darker each time)
R000 + R01

Cheek Blush
overlay R20 or R30

Tomorrow I'll show different ways of coloring faces, from smooth to crisp, faded to sharp. Have a great week!


Nicole said...

I'm practicing ASAP, Thanks, Marianne!

Andi (RrlScrapGal) said...

Awesome tutorial!!!!!!
This is definitely one of my weaknesses, skin colors!

shirl Martin said...

Thank you for the tutorial, i had ben interested in the marker for a bit but I learned somethings that will help.

Sandy Knecht said...

Great tutorial for skin tones. I finally figured out how to print your tutorials so I can take them to my table and play. Thank you so much Marianne.

Lori Barnett said...

Great info girl! Can't wait to see the next post! :)

Claret Belle said...

Another great! Lady you are fantastic and the more I see the more I buy!!!!!

Ellie said...

OH I could KISS YOU!!! I am have been using E13,E51,E21!! as my tones!! YIKES!! so I thank you sooo much cause NOW I know what to get!! YEAHHH! :)

Judie said...

Loved this discussion, and will study it many times to make it clear to my aged memory (LOL). My problem is that I live in Hawaii (no that's not a problem!) and my adopted 'ohana (family) is Chinese American. So I'm trying to find the right combination of Chinese skin color tones for stamps meant to represent my grandchildren -- but, of course, they are very suntanned (Hawaii). Any suggestions? Thanks!

Toni said...

Marianne you ve inspired and helped me so much with starting these tutorials Thank you
There's an award for your inspiration on my blog

MJar said...

Thank you so much for all your knowledge, I am excited to begin my journey!

Anonymous said...

Some of these color combos are familiar to me, but the new ones definitely look useful. I was wondering what colors I should get for african and native american skin tones. Now I know what new colors to buy next time I go to my art store! -^__^- Thanks!

nonaandnea said...

Thanks for your tutorial, it's helped for most things.
However, do you know other colors for Africans who are other shades inbetween the dark and light colors? Becuase I draw people with predominately dark/ medium skin tones (Africans and the like), I was wondering if you had any advice on how to get the relective surfaces of dark skin tones.
Thanks for you tutuorial.

GirlGeek101 said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciated this blog cause everywhere else - skin tone is E00 only! Maria Loomis gave me your link and I'm so happy. THANKS a million.

Here is my try at brown skin tone - which is not exactly right so I'm going to order the colors you suggested.



Becky said...

This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing this.

jogry said...

Thanks for this tutorial. I am a newbie to colouring with markers. This is very helpful to me.

Debbie Olson said...

Marianne, this is one of the most helpful posts I've ever seen. Your knowledge amazes me--thank you!

Debbie Olson said...

Marianne, this is one of the most helpful posts I've ever seen. Your knowledge amazes me--thank you!

pnkgeeni said...

I have E00 and need some more skin tone colors.

Sharon said...

I love your blog! What a helpful page to post for all the Copic marker fans! I took a class at a local scrapbook/stamp store in May of '10 and was hooked immediately! But this is the best tutorial on skin tone that I've encountered. Thanks!

Traci said...

Thank you Marianne, I just came from my Copic Cert.Class in Boston & wanted to learn skin & hair. YOU ROCK! Now I need to practice. ;0)

Penny said...

Thank you so much! I want to start ordering Copic Markers, but was at a loss for a good place to start. Flesh colors are so hard to determine when you have to mailorder. Off to start my collection!

Anonymous said...

UGH you don't know how hard it is to find a skin color palette tutorial that isn't only for coloring white people. Thanks so much!

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