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    Digital Painting Tutorial: How to paint skin v1
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INTRODUCTION:
Well, this is by request as there’s been a number of you asking for a tutorial on how I paint skin, so here goes!
We’re going to look at one of my paintings and even though a photo is used as reference, you don’t have to match it exactly, you may even be using a photo for partial reference. I failed art in high school because apparently realism isn’t art :p Whatever ;)

Really pay attention to the skin texture, shading and colour, it’s usually not a single shade overall. I’m no expert in make-up... well, there was this one time back in the 70’s, wait, what? Anyway, I guess as make-up goes, a foundation is used as a base shade to then apply tint and colour where desired. We will do a similar thing with painting.

There’s many techniques to painting skin, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about it. Have a look at other artists techniques, it all comes with practice. 
 
What software do I use?
I use Photoshop CC and a Wacom tablet (Intuos5). I pretty much just use two brushes (below) and vary the opacity with the Wacom pen pressure.
The brushes shown above are the two brushes I use. The first (soft round) for all sketching and most of the painting. The second (spatter) is just occasionally to apply texture. You must be careful when using textured brushes as they can cause a repeating pattern (although adding a ‘scattering’ setting can help) so I try to use sparingly and vary opacity.
Note that I have ‘Transfer’ enabled and the Opacity control (in that tab) set to pen pressure. This means if I press harder with my tablet pen, the darker (or less opaque) the painting will be. This gives a very natural feel to drawing and painting.
From a basic sketch I apply a base colour. I start of rough and build up the image. As I apply more colour and shades, and not always painting at 100% Opacity, the base colour may show though and effect the overall colour. Makes for a more richer and natural skin-tone. Takes practice.  
You can see this is pretty rough, but I think it helps you start to visualise the painting as you go. Different from traditional drawing where you usually draw pretty detailed from the beginning.
I keep painting the various shades. I don’t use a blur or smudge tool as I find I have more control over the effect by painting. I guess you can think of it as the painting coming into focus. 
I still haven’t got into a lot of detail. I find it easier to get the skin pretty much about right around the eyes, nose and lips before I get too detailed. That way, I don’t have to worry about colour overspill as I’m sometimes painting pretty broad strokes with a large diameter brush.
Skin’s finally getting there. At this point I paint the eyes, nose and lips. Then final touch-ups to the skin. You can see in the right hand image, the very faint use of the spatter brush to give some extra texture. This is very lightly painted with a lighter colour, then lightly painted over with a normal brush. I’m still experimenting and trying to perfect this... Lots of practice.
TIP!

Never think using a photo reference is cheating!

How can you possibly draw a horse if you don’t know what one looks like? The way the legs bend, proportions etc. You build up a ‘library’ of images in your mind by drawing from photos or real life, until you reach a point at which you no longer need a reference. Also, these days it’s pretty hard to get someone to sit still for 20 hours ;) 

However, to paint a specific person you will most likely still need a reference, especially the more detailed you get... Unless you have a photographic memory :p
Finished Painting