How to Mix Skin Tones

Hi friends!

This video tutorial will show you the basics about how to mix skin tones with acrylic paint! If you’re like me, then as a beginner mixing flesh color can seem impossible!

How to Mix Skin Tones with Acrylic Paint
I started drawing before painting, so I was used to copic markers and coloured pencils with the “flesh tone” already mixed for me!  So when it came to painting I was lost…if this sounds like you, then don’t worry!

Mixing skin tones is just like mixing any other color in acrylic paint.  It just seems harder because we’re trying to make the skin tone of a living person.  But really, skin color is simply a mix of our basic primaries: red,yellow, and blue, just like any other complicated color mix.  So take a deep breath and let’s dive in!

(If you’re unsure about the difference between Student Quality and Artist Quality paint, I’ve written a blog post about it that you can read here)

I apologize for the poor video quality, this video was one of my first YouTube videos, and I am working to replace it with a higher quality one soon, but the information is still relevant, so I hope you can still find it useful.

(psst.. if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to check out my What is Acrylic Paint video here. It’s my first talking video on YouTube though so I’m pretty nervous in it, but it’s a good start if you’re brand new to acrylics, or painting or art in general)

The set of colors I use for my skin tone base colors are:

  • Cadmium Red Light (I use the Hue option to save some money)
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Titanium White
  • Titan Buff (Golden Name, Liquitex calls their version Unbleached Titanium)
  • Payne’s Grey – for mixing more cooler skin tones (great for shadowed areas)  If you don’t have Payne’s Grey (or don’t want to go out and buy it) just mix a bit of black with Ultramarine Blue and it’ll give you a similar color

Good color for mixing into your skin tones to create blushes/lip colors:

  • Quinocridone Red
  • Alizarin Crimson Hue Permanent (make sure it says “permanent” – alizarin can be a rogue color through time)

Color Swaps for mixing darker skin tones:

  • Swap Cad Yellow Light for Cad Yellow Medium
  • Add Ultramarine Blue to Cerulean Blue (careful…we don’t want blue skin!)
  • Swap the Burnt Sienna for Burnt Umber if needed (again if you don’t have Burnt Umber, add a tiny bit of black to Burnt Sienna and you’re good to go)

But above all… you gotta PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!  Don’t worry if you don’t get it the first time…try to see where you went wrong and try again!

Eventually you’ll get the hang of it, and start developing your own super secret skin color recipes.  This is just the one that I use, there are many different ones out there.  Experiment and see what works for you, then keep doing it and soon mixing skin tones with acrylic paint won’t seem so scary anymore  🙂

I really hope this video helps, be sure to watch next Tuesday for an intro to Color Theory (where we’ll learn lots and lots more to help you mix the colors you want!).


If you’d like to dive into painting skin tones a bit further, I have an ebook now available that will teach you to do just that! Mastering Skintones in Acrylics is an ebook aimed at beginners written by yours truly to take you through the color theory behind mixing skin colors, so you know how they work and how to fix them when they “go wrong”.  It also includes specific skintone mixing recipes, your cheat sheet for mixing great skin tones in less time. You can click the picture below to learn more:

Mastering Skintones in Acrylics


Thank you SO MUCH for watching!

Keep creating!

-Ashley <3

How to Mix Skin Tones with Acrylic Paint

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