The Color of Flesh
Color basics
Color has three characteristics - value, hue and saturation.
Value ~ definition. Elaboration.
Value gradient (top) and value scale (bottom). In any composition, it's best to keep the value structure clear by limiting the number of values. The 5-step and 7-step (shown here) value scales are good guides.
Hue ~ definition. Elaboration.
Hue gradient. Every point is a hue.
Saturation ~ definition. Another term for saturation is intensity.
Saturation gradient. Pure hues, such as the red at the left edge, have the highest degree of saturation. As the color becomes less pure and more neutral, saturation decreases. The black at the right edge is totally unsaturated — no trace of the red hue remains.
The difference between saturation and chroma.
Color temperature
Color temperature is the warmth or coolness of a light source as measured in degrees Kelvin.
In the Kelvin scale, the temperature of daylight is low at dawn and sunset, when the light is warmest. Cool, blue north light has the highest color temperature. Daylight is in the middle of the scale at midday.
In terms of art (and human perception), yellow, orange and red are warm colors; violet, blue and green are cool colors. Gray is neutral.
The color of light affects the color of flesh, and every other subject.
Artists have painted their subjects in cool north light for centuries. The kitchen milkmaid, by Johannes Vermeer (oil on canvas, 18 x 16), c. 1658, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (Click to enlarge.)
Candlelight is very warm (1500 K). George de La Tour's The Dream of St. Joseph (oil on canvas, 37 x 32), c. 1628-1645, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.
What is flesh color? Value and color spheres
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