My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lesson 28 - Tahitian Girl - Skin

Finally!!! We get to do skin. This is not a quick and easy task with colored pencil. It is very fine, very delicate, and very, very time-consuming.

I'll put a disclaimer right here. I didn't finish. I tried - I really did. But you don't rush it or you'll have a boatload of regret.

Thankfully, we won't. Let's get started.

1. My Tahitian girl has wonderfully tan skin. So we need some true darks in the underlayer. We don't want any grey, though, or the skin will look dead. Use dark browns for this. We'll do that with Dark Umber #947.

Now be sure and take your time. You need to put in all the form, the curves, the intensity and the delicate edges. Just this layer alone took me about six hours.

Be prepared to go through 'ugly' phases and don't give up.

2. Next, let's bring in a true Polynesian color, Sienna Brown #945. It's rich and warm and screams "I've been raised in the sun." However, we're starting light. We're going over almost all areas except for the strong highlights along the left side of the face and body.

Don't push it, though. We'll bring it on strong later, when we have a few more important layers added.

3. Now we're ready to bring on some soft and wonderful warmth with Henna #1031. This really makes it feminine. We're hitting most of the shaded areas, but crossing over into the half-lighted areas on the cheek and chest. Don't be afraid to thicken your strokes where the shadow is just changing into half-light or highlight.

4. Now we need yellow. Never use a strong yellow on skin, unless you have a crazy highlight or want to draw attention. It's hard to do it right unless you're subtle. So we'll use some very subtle yellows: Cream #914 and Yellow Ochre #942. We're mostly hitting the areas where half-light and highlight are. On the strong highlights on the far left, I'm only adding yellow in where it changes into the shadow. Don't go all the way left. You need some strong white there. I did a mix of the two, using Cream where it needed to be ultra subtle, and Yellow Ochre when it needs to be stronger.

You do want to be careful to not overdo it, though. I keep saying be subtle, but I really mean it. BE SUBTLE.

5. Okay, here comes scary. Our previous layers have been light. We can see a lot of the grain of the board showing through. But to really get soft, smooth skin, we need to push the saturation capacity of the board.

Be warned, the skin will go too light here, but we'll darken it again. Ready? Take Peach #939, and using about sixty percent pressure, go over all of the skin except for the strong left side highlights. I'm using a very sharp pencil, sharpening it every few minutes (it's not unusual to go through a whole pencil here), and filling in all the holes, and grinding it into the colors below. They will be muted, but don't worry, we'll accent them again.

I tried adding a little Sienna Brown along the upper right side of the face to see how my layers are coming up. It's looking good.

8. Okay, we're ready to get serious. I'm going to go down to the arm. I'm waiting on the face, because I want to experiment, find what works best on the board, and figure it out before I get to the face, which we'll need to get as perfect as possible.

Using a mix of Sienna Brown, Dark Umber, Yellow Ochre, and the Blending Stick, I'm going back and forth on the arm until I get the right, rich-tan tone, as well as the stronger shadows and highlights. Good, it's working. Now I'll move to the shadow on the left side of the neckline.

9. All right, using the same colors, I'm ready to tackle the chest area. There's more fluctuation in the tones here, and sometimes there are blotches. It can't be avoided.

But when you get a blotch, it can be toned down by first going over the blotch only with a soft layer of white. Don't go outside it. Keep adding layers of white until it tones down to match the surrounding area. Then, add a light layer of the main tone you used on this area. In this case, it is Sienna Brown.

Okay, sorry to leave you hanging. I'm really not trying to draw this out (no pun intended). It just takes time. Come back and see how it goes next week. I'm really hoping to have it done by then. Cross your fingers for me!


  1. That's beautiful. I would have just colored it in with the apricot colored Crayola.

  2. Julie, thank you, and I love apricot colored Crayola's! Our local newspaper once commissioned three highly respected artists to each do a piece using only Crayola crayons. It was amazing! You would never have known. I'm just curious to see what they sold for . . .

  3. Pure gorgeous! Can't wait for the face to be done. And those eyelashes, too. :)

  4. I was stunned when the picture went from showing the paper grain to it disappearing. Wow!

  5. Leisha, boy, you and me both! It's taking every ounce of self control not to give her lovely lashes right now!

    Lydia, this is the very best part, especially when you wait through the whole picture to do the person. I love watching the skin turn soft, smooth and flowing! This is where Prismacolor pencils rock!


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