Painting Skin Video Demo

Hello Everyone,

Feels like I havent posted in ages so I decided to put this up here. I recorded this in my Z3 class at Gnomon using my old Stingerhead model as a demo. I got a lot of questions about how I hand paint some skins so hopefully this will give you some idea. If there is a good response I will try and do a more detailed capture.

I had to rehost the video at veoh cause my site was getting some high bandwidth. You can view it here now : )


If you already downloaded the video feel free to rehost or distribute it : )

To help clarify the stages this image shows the underpainting, motteling (noodling) layers, and then mists of flesh color to the final.

stingerheadPaintProgressions copy.jpg

Thank you! That is a wonderful technique. I think I’ll take a stab at it.

hey scott!

thanks for taking the time to do this.
-looking forward to see this video, when i get home. looking good.


Thanks guys!

A quick breakdown of the process is as follows

polypaint fill a base color on the model
using a dot alpha set to spray stroke with the color modifier set to 0 spray reds blues and yellows on the whole head

I isolate these based on color temapture zones on the face.

warm: cheeks, ears, nose, chest, sometimes neck

gold/yellow: forehead, areas where the skin is thinner and bone is close to the surface, bridge of nose, clavicles, temporal ridge, chin

cool: beard line , lower jaw, temples, recesses

once these overstated colors are blocked in I cover the entire head with a fine layer of little white squiggle lines
once thats done I switch to a skin shader then with a standard brush set to a VERY low opacity ( 3 or 4) I mist a version of the base color over the whole head. This pushes all those colors back into the skin.

I think switch back to the spray brush and add in reds, blues, yellows, and cool grays where needed.

IN the end I use cavity masking to paint into the detail a light warm brown.

Hope that helps a bit. I really will do another one with teh whole menu system visible next time. I was talking while I did this one so I didnt think to record thw whole screen.


Thanks Scot. Great video.

Very nice. I wish, if layers would work with polypainting…

Nice job, Scott! Nice use of your primaries to create a base underflesh tone. I really like all the depth in the skin coloration that came about by your technique. It’s too often that people don’t understand all the colors that are actually in skin tones and it is obvious that you have gained a great grasp on that. Good work!

wow!! thanks Scott!!


Alex Oliver

I’ve really enjoyed your skin work and I had been hoping you would do a tutorial.

Scott, you’re so cool! Transferring airbrush techniques to 3D model painting and having fun at the same time! :wink:

Thanks Scott. I’m currently about to texture an Alien so this will work out perfect.

Many thanks Scott…


very nice!..always great to see various techniques (and much appreciated).

thanks! :slight_smile:



Wonderful video. How would you create an SSS (Sub-Surface Scattering) effect such that the ears and nostril flares and horn edges would seem to possess qualities of translucence? Your interpretation of color zone theory is attractive and successful.

When you go into the tight close-ups of the eyes and face, what exactly are you doing?

One of the more interesting techniques is your masking of the horns around the 14 minute mark (anyway, it looks like masking, maybe you’re painting with dark grey). What are you doing?

Can you explain ‘Cavity Masking’ a little more?
Lastly, how accelerated was your recording session? How much ‘real time’ did the 17 minute video represent?



I’d love to see this video! Can someone please host it on something else then Veoh? Pleeeease!!! :+1:

Thanks Snark,

When I zoom in I am adding little noodles of white or beige as well as spraying a warm or cool gray to alter the temapture of the area.

As for the SSS effect I do switch to the skin shader near the start of the video and I paint on that. The painting technique does help to support the feeling of translucent skin. It isnt going to create the same kind of backlight effect you get in a proper SSS render or a sillicone head. To get that you need to do a mental ray render. One cool thing about a color map like this is that it works really nicely in a SSS render in mental ray.

As for cavity masking what it does it masks out the recessed of the figure. Go to tool:masking:mask by cavity to see what I mean. I painted on there with a cream color with the low areas cavity masked,

Th video is sped up by about 50% I took a little under an hour I guess, maybe an hour to paint this guy.

Im glad you guys liek the video - I wish I could host it on my own site but the bandwidth got hammered. Maybe you can download it from veoh? There is a download button.


Oh BTW Plakkie your topology threads kick butt! : )

Great video Scott. Interesting technique… Seems that you work backwards from the end to begining. Painting subtly some kind of “layers”… very inspiring.
Thanks for share it.

(sorry for my english, hope makes sense)

Thanks Scott! The Topology Lab is really a joined effort, amazing how big it has grown. But: I grudgingly signed up with Veoh (don’t like that) and did what they asked. But I stíll can’t download the vid. :mad: Can anyone please host it in another version??

Thanks for the response, Scott.

When you say ‘switch to the skin shader’ what do you mean?