Introduction to painting skin tones in 3 colours

Course Dates: 18/05/21 - 08/06/21
Time: 14:00 - 17:00
Location: Online
Mixing skin tones can be an incredibly difficult challenge and for many it can present a range of technical issues and problem dolving. This short online course will introduce you to approaches in building and developing life like skins tones using a limited paint palette. Guided by live artist demonstrations, you will simplify the problem and so develop an easy and logical approach to painting skin tones.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £119.00 Senior fee £95.00 Concession £60.00

Course Code: VO218

Tue, day, 18 May - 08 Jun '21

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This online course looks at how it is possible to create life like and convincing skin tones using a limited palette of just 3 colours. These are Ivory black, Cadmium Red and Yellow ochre (plus white of course!), This palette was made famous by the 19th century painter Anders Zorn but dates back all the way to the time of Da Vinci. Due to its limited nature this restricted paint palette will force you to think more about 'relative colour' and how “relative” colour allows for subtle transitions which is seen in skin. Learn the secrets, tips and techniques in painting the illusion of glowing skin tones.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

You will cover the reasons for choosing these 3 colours and how these can create a whole spectrum of tones. You will look into what colour actually is by breaking it down into its 4 main areas- value, temperature, saturation and hue and how it is possible using one or more of these areas to find and correct any problem you may have.

Lesson 1: What is colour? Explore the over reaching theories of colour and how we can use it in successfully mastering the limited palette.

Lesson 2: The old masters limited palette: Artists in the pre industrial era (before the 19th century) only had a very small selection of pigments to choose from. Learn the work and approaches of 5 artists from across the ages to understand how they created a whole gamut of colour from limited resources.

Lesson 3: Painting with the limited palette: You will take what you have learnt from the previous weeks and develop 2 paintings, pushing the limits of what can be achieved using this palette and understand how painters used optical tricks and differing paint application to achieve results.

Lesson 4: Extending the palette: In the final lesson you will look at how adding one extra colour to your palette can extend the colour gamut to create an almost complete range of colours for skin tones.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify key colours required for painting skin tones
- Explain the techniques and approaches of various artists
- Demonstrate how to build a skine tone palette and how to arrange your colours
- Produce various samples and painting work using skin tones effectively
- Continue painting with confidence.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is ideal for those with some painting experience who now wish to develop their understanding of working with flesh/skins tones. Experience in life and portrait drawing/painting is an advantage but all levels of experience are welcome.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

This is a live online session taught via Zoom. All reference files and video files will be uploaded to a course google classroom which you will have access to throughout the duration of your studies.

There will be no set homework but your tutor may provide you with additional reading and optional extention activities.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

To participate fully with the course you will be required to have the follwing:

- A range of good quality filbert and flat brushes ranging from size 4-10
- A large palette (avoiding tear off palettes or white palettes)
- Artist quality paint in ivory black, vermillion red (hue) and yellow ochre, titanium white, burnt sienna and raw umber
- Odourless thinners like sansodor for cleaning your brushes
- Range of cotton canvases or panels, recommended 3 6” x 8” 3 10” x 12” and 3 12” x16”

Need art supplies? Our partner London Graphic Centre has everything you need from pencil to printing services, at 15% off.

To get an LGC discount card, students will need to show proof/ confirmation of enrolment of them being a student at City Lit. You can apply for our card in-store or by simply emailing with a scan or photo of relevant confirmation. The student discount does not apply to products that are already discounted or on offer. More information can be found here-

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

We offer a range of online painting and drawing courses and specialise technical workshops. For more information and a full range of courses available, please visit

Chris Gray

Having completed his studies at Falmouth University of the Arts Chris devoted the next 10 years honing his traditional drawing and painting skills, focusing on portraiture, figure, landscape and still life painting across the mediums of charcoal, oil, pastel and intaglio printmaking. He received the prestigious De Lazlo Foundation Scholarship which enabled him to study at London Fine Art Studios (one of only two studios in London teaching the traditional craft of drawing and painting within the atelier setting) where he then after only 3 years because a senior teacher and has continued to teach. He also teaches extensively 1-2-1 and small to medium groups both in studio and online, a regular associate lecturer at the University of the Creative Arts and City literary institute. During his career so far Chris has: won multiple awards including the “One to watch” young artist of the year at the Federation of British Artists Futures show for outstanding British graduates, The John Purcell paper award and the young artist of the year at the Pastel society.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.