Skin Color Charts


The images below are from the book How to Paint Skin Tones by James Horton (ISBN 0-89134-670-8).  I believe it is currently out of print.  What follows below are links to the acrylic paint charts that show a dark and light value group for each of three basic divisions of human skin color:  pale, mid-toned and dark.  These are intended to be a jumping-off point to give a painter some idea of how various colors can be blended to create highlight, mid-tone and shadow colors.  It’s also worth considering to use some of the mid-toned blends as stronger shadows for pale skin color, and dark as shadows for mid-toned skin color; also, some of the pale blends as highlights for mid-toned skin color, and mid-toned for dark skin color.


The page on “Using the Charts” describes how each chart is set up and gives some general tips.


Using the Charts

Pale Skin – Shadows

Pale Skin – Highlighting

Mid-toned Skin – Shadows

Mid-toned Skin – Highlighting

Dark Skin – Shadows

Dark Skin – Highlighting


It’s worth noting that these are based on very traditional formulae and so they don’t make use of an excellent short-cut pigment:  unbleached (or “buff”) titanium.  This pigment is the basic color source for just about all “foundation” make-up because it is a greyed/neutral yellow.  This is one color that’s well worth considering for mixing skin colors.


I hope the charts are as useful for all of you as they have been for me.







"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

-Mahatma Gandhi



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