@lilly-white Instead of a step by step, Assuming you already have a base knowledge of how to paint digitally, I thought an over view of sorts would be easier and a little bit quicker for me to explain.
I have collected a few samples of portraits from the old masters that show off, far better than I ever could, how much variation there is to be found in the human complexion. It’s far more than a few shades of beige, brown and peachy yellows. There are blues, greens, purples and reds - a whole array of colours that can add a realism, personality and vibrancy to your work.
Whilst no two people are the same, there are some patterns to be found.
In Caucasian faces, you typically find reds, pinks, and purples in the cheeks, nose and ears, basically anywhere that is prone to a bit of flushing. Intensity will depend on age, gender, lifestyle and emotional state. Blues and greens can be found around the lower face and jaw this is especially so for men, in women the colouration is subtler. There is also a very slight yellowing around the corners of the mouth.
The darker the skin becomes the stabler and more consistent the skin tone seems to be, typically consisting more of darker purples, reds, blues and greens. Again, age, lifestyle and gender will have an impact on complexion.
There are of course environmental factors that will affect the appearance of colours on the face but for the sake of brevity - I’ll save that for another time.
There are a few rules of thumb I always use. These are not hard Rules, just tips.
* Never paint straight onto a pure white background. Always lay down a neutral mid of some kind before you lay down ANY other colour. You will be amazed at the difference this makes to your approach.
* Don’t use editorial / fashion images for referencing natural skin tone. You will not get a true representation of fleshy goodness here my friend. Oh no.
* Referencing is not the devil, nor is it cheating. If you need some open whilst you paint, have them open.
* Do master studies. do lots of them. Try to keep it to the deceased artists too, you don’t want to tread on any contemporary toes. I know I harp on all the time about this one but…. honestly if you’re going to learn, learn from the best. Singer Sargent, for me, has some of the finest examples of skin tone painting going and you really do learn so much from replicating.
I hope this helps <3