Taliesin: on painting skin tones, and why lighting = pale is a fallacy




Okay guys. Rubbing hands together and pulling some of my own art to serve as a visual of sorts here. Whitewashing, as most of you know, is taking a character of color and depicting them as white or with light skin. It’s a controversial issue—and for very good reason. PoC are concerned about…

this is a good post and you should feel good

I’m not even in this conversation, and I appreciate the fuck out of this. 

Artists who are drawing PoC in any fandom, I hope you read this. It matters. Not just to PoC, it matters to anyone looking at your art. If you just don’t know how to draw different lighting on dark skin (and the examples aren’t even that dark, honestly), this is a really good start.

I agree with the basic messages of this completely, but I’ll add that an important part of learning how to draw different skin tones (or learning how to draw anything!) is not just looking at art examples or video games but at actual people. I realised a few years ago that I had no idea how to do lighting on dark skin and made a point of doing a bunch of fanart of live action dark skinned characters and it was really helpful, and I still use real life models for video game/animated etc characters if I feel unsure.

Looking at cast photographs from any tv show or movie with a diverse cast will show a nice variety of skin tones under the same lighting, albeit mostly bright white lights.

yes, all good points

skin is a really interesting and challenging subject to paint realistically, and there are a lot of tutorials out there on how to render various different shades in a convincing way. A useful rule of thumb for me has been to consider skintones of consisting of three broad bands of values - highlights, midtones, shadows. In lighter skintones, the greatest contrast will usually be between highlights-and-midtones versus shadows, whereas in darker skintones, the contrast will tend to fall between highlights and midtones-plus-shadows. It’s obviously more complicated than that (there are different types of highlights and different types of shadows, not to mention a huge range of different skin tones) but it’s one relatively simple trick that’s easy to apply practically.

Thank you for mentioning that last point (emphasis mine)!  I love that the original post exists, but (as someone smartly mentions in the above conversation) video games are also notoriously bad at coming up with accurate shaders for darker skintones and are thus very, very unreliable as reference for accurately painting POCs.  Hey, look at these three gorgeous ladies:

…Yes, lighting comes into play, but that rule of thumb is usually something worth thinking about when you’re starting in on a painting. And, for the love of god, beyond skin tone, learn how to draw non-white facial features:

Diandra Forrest is a gorgeous albino model, but it’s completely clear that she’s a black woman.  She doesn’t look like a northern european white girl, despite the potentially similar skin tone.


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  9. uhuhuuhuhu reblogged this from youbestnotmiss and added:
    Very good information here.
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    Heads-up to artists, learn your lighting!
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