By Heather Scroggins
I have a confession to make. Just a couple months ago, I was afraid to complete coloring pages with people in them. Superstition? Nope - I just had no idea how to color their skin to make it look nice.
I'm a marker girl at heart and don't use colored pencils very often. But to achieve realistic-looking skin tones in just a few easy steps, colored pencils have become my go-to medium. With just 2-4 colored pencils and a secret ingredient, you can do it too!
That secret ingredient is a blending pencil, or blender. I have found my results are good with both wax-based as well as oil-based colored pencils.
Step one: Using medium pressure and coloring in small circles, lay down the base layer using your main skin tone (your lightest color).
Step two: Add layers of the same color one on top of the other until you achieve the shade you want.
Step three: Using your blending pencil and fairly firm pressure, "color" over the shape you just filled in. Since it is colorless, you won't actually be adding color. What you will do is fill in the tiny holes and grooves that make up the paper's texture, giving the skin a smooth, even appearance. Make sure the point on the blending pencil isn't too sharp, so you don't make dents in your paper.
Step four: Now it is time to bring the person to life with shading. Using a color approximately 2-3 shades darker than your skin tone, add lines and shadows where they would normally fall if you were looking at a photograph: the chin, décolletage, the crook of an elbow. Then choose a pink or rose shade for cheek highlights. I use the side of my colored pencil, rather than the point, to add color to cheeks. Experiment to see what works best for you.
Step five: With gentle pressure, go over your shading and highlighting with your blending pencil, and you're done! [Expert tip: use these same techniques to add texture and dimension to clothing, vegetation, etc. in the pictures you complete.]
I hope this short tutorial helps you conquer your fear of coloring skin tones, and opens up a whole new world of coloring fun. If you like the picture in the example photos, check it out in My Besties Fluffys Coloring Book by Sherri Ann Baldy.