Paint Better Portraits: Realistic Skin Tones


Enhance your portraits as you create, apply and blend true-to-life skin tones. Join me for my online Bluprint class, Paint Better Portraits: Realistic Skin Tones, and learn to confidently paint convincing complexions for people of all different ethnicities, ages and genders.


Paint convincing complexions in oil alongside artist Brian Neher. Start by taking reference photos that complement your subject, and set your palette up for success. Next, build the skills to identify and mix warm and cool skin tones. You’ll also mix a variety of grays that will bring depth to your work. Watch your canvas come to life   as you block in major shapes and master brush control techniques that will help you apply paint with confidence. Then, enhance the clarity and richness of your work as Brian walks you through blending skin tones, building contrast and finishing your portrait with lifelike details. Plus, explore brushstroke methods that will help you define the age and gender of your subject.

Lesson 1

Selecting a Reference Photo

Learn how to identify the difference between warm and cool lighting. Next, practice Brian’s methods for setting up and shooting a reference photo that captures daylight beautifully and depicts your subject in the most flattering way possible

Lesson 2

Mixing Warm & Cool Colors

Learn about the best paints and tools for portraiture, how to set up a palette that you can use daily, and Brian’s professional methods for mixing warm and cool skin colors. Next, learn how to identify temperature changes that will bring striking realism to your work.

Lesson 3

Gray Matters

Did you know that grays can be one of the most important elements in your portraits? Brian shows you how to identify and mix a range of grays as you train your eye to see value with more complexity. Explore ways to transition from warm to cool hues by mixing complementary colors with confidence.

Lesson 4

Application to Canvas

Take your paint from palette to canvas as Brian demystifies the challenging block-in phase of portrait painting. Explore ways to draft the major elements of your subject as you learn paint application techniques that will help you control your brush, working from dark to light in the process.

Lesson 5

Blending on Canvas

Blending can be very challenging to master, but has the power to transform a painting into a professional work of art. Brian shares step-by-step demonstrations for blending wet into wet and shows you how to artfully mix paints using a finger or a dry brush.

Lesson 6

Finishing Your Portrait

Discover ways to revitalize dull areas and add more contrast to the value range after your nearly-finished painting has dried. Brian shares ways to work over dry paint as you push shapes and hues toward a richer, more dimensional look. Next, learn how to add final details that add amazing realism.


Lesson 7

Variations: Skin Tone, Age & Gender

Learn how to apply the techniques you’ve learned so far to any subject’s skin color. Brian explains how to mix paints that will create a wide range of rich warm or cool hues. Finish the class by exploring paint and brushstroke methods that will help define the age and gender of your subject.

Enroll in Paint Better Portraits: Realistic Skin Tones and bring your subjects to life with color mixing methods, paint application skills, blending techniques and more!

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23 reviews for Paint Better Portraits: Realistic Skin Tones

  1. Excellent 5-Star Teacher


    “Brian Neher has done an excellent job teaching this class. He is very articulate. I love that he is very detail oriented when he teaches. He definitely has the “heart of a teacher”, with the students’ growth in mind. Be sure to read the side comments that he makes to the individual students’ questions. He is very thorough in his answers. I almost learned as much from the side comments as from the actual instruction. I feel that this tutorial was more than worth the money and would love to see another tutorial by him on a different oil painting subject.” -Emmee5

  2. Highly recommended


    “ ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️” -preet_ama3442327

  3. Great Easy To Follow Detail


    “I have enrolled in a few oil classes but this instructor for me explains things quickly and to the point. Each class is jam packed with great detail and the needed info to create a successful portrait. I highly recommend, you will not be sorry!” -Jeau

  4. Master Class


    “I think Brian will teach from the heart. He will share all his knowledge in a very confidence-inspiring manner. I can see it again and again.” -bjorn.c.w9148241

  5. Great Introduction


    “I very much enjoyed the session . I found it very systematic and informative. Excellent.” -maldoori24253271

  6. Most excellent!


    “Excellent!!! Best video yet! I learned a lot!
    Everything explained so very thoroughly!
    Good for experienced painters and beginners!
    It has basics that can be used in other paintings as well!
    Love it! Great, Brian!” -maredodd

  7. Spot On


    “I have gone over the course twice now and must say that I’m delighted. So many of my basic questions and doubts have been addressed by Brian in a friendly and conversational way. It’s a wonder of the internet that such good advice can be accessed so easily and affordably, Thank you, Brian.” -lespringl6986922

  8. Best color mixing advice ever seen


    “FINALLY someone clearly explained warm/cool, and mixing right complements, and using “grays” in portraits, defining what a “gray” really is. This was such an eye opener. I’ve been painting about six years and taken classes, but this was an amazing course….and only twenty bucks! Now I want to save my pennies and buy his DVDs.” -Elizabeth Amanda Elgin

  9. Impressive course, even for old dogs like me!


    “I’ve been painting oil portraits for several years now and have had classes and workshops put on by several living masters. Brian’s style of instruction is excellent—clear and concise. I like the concepts he employs that are new to me, i.e. the absence of black on his palette and his “dry” glazing technique. I appreciate his affirmation of many of the techniques I’ve learned over the years and I look forward to creating cleaner, richer colors that are his trademark. I’d recommend this course to anyone, regardless of their experience level. You can teach an old dog new tricks!” -Wretched

  10. Perfect


    “Great course! Clear and I learned a lot!” -LouiseVisser

  11. Brilliant, friendly and very adequate


    “I highly recommend this course.” -Silz

  12. Always Something New To Learn!


    “I’ve been painting portraits a long time and look forward to trying this color mixing approach!” -Gayle Hurley

  13. Worth every penny!


    “I’ve been following Brian’s blog for a number of years now and on Facebook. Brian is a great teacher with a very clear, manageable mixing process. His ability to organize and communicate his techniques and process are second to none.

    Hope he does more tutorials on Craftsy… I’d buy them right away.” -sketchySteven

  14. Great Teacher


    “Brian is a great teacher. He explains things very clearly and to detail, and also shows you exactly what he is talking about. I have learned so very much from watching his videos.” -florenkom6703685

  15. Fantastic!


    “Wonderful to listen and watch! Brian does a great job of combining his words with his demonstration. Great communicator. Adding so much more information to my color mixing. Appreciated so much the info about the purpose of the grays and how and when to use them. (I am starting my first oil painting portrait of a nephew and so glad to have discovered Brian Neher and his videos before I started. I’m jumping for joy, literally! Thank you, Brian. Love your own questions on our behalf and the thorough explanations! Thrilled. Look forward to the rest. 🙂 ” -LooseGoose

  16. Very helpful tips


    “Hi Brian, I have enjoyed your class. Your instructions on color mixing, highlights and blending were specifically helpful for me. Although I use old masters’ techniques in my paintings and glaze with black oil, there were some great tips and techniques in your lecture that I can take away and apply in my paintings. Hopefully you will have more classes coming up. Thanks” -Nersel Fine Art

  17. Really Valuable Information


    “I took a portrait class at an art school recently, but the instructor failed to explain the proper use of color in painting a portrait. This series does what that instructor failed to do. It’s money well spent. Thanks” -Chris5007

  18. Methodical and Organized


    “This is clicking for me. Now I see why it takes me so long to finish a painting. I have the general ideas he presents but I’m all over the place jumping from area to area. I like the idea of minimal drawing, I always grid but not for the next piece. I also think it is very helpful to only think of shapes and colours, not thinking of who you are painting at this point. Very helpful and inspiring.” -dlvrn

  19. Best class!!!


    “This is by far the best class I’ve taken so far and has been most helpful in painting portraits. In the past, I’ve avoided them because I couldn’t get them to look realistic. Want to thank Brian for sharing his skills and techniques. Most helpful in color mixing and creating portraits that compliment the subject’s features. Great advice dealing with different lighting and how to use shadows to your advantage. Thanks for giving me more confidence to paint people! Love your work!!!” -Guralraci1668973

  20. Amazing Class!


    “Fantastic! Brian Neher is an exceptional teacher! His explanation of color and value are clearly explained and easy to understand.” -vickelia7320900

  21. Excellent Instuctor


    “This is by far the best instructional video on oil portraiture. I have spent a great deal of money in the past on DVDs and workshops with very little benefit. I am so glad I found this place and hope that Mr Neher is willing to provide us with more instructional videos. Thank you so much for creating this website.” -audencio2903775

  22. Great!


    “Great instruction Brian” -theartist2040639

  23. Just What I Was Looking For!

    Just What I Was Looking For!

    “I paint historical miniature figures. One of my favorite painters recommended I study portrait painting to learn to paint skin. Brian’s tutorial is precisely what I was looking for. His work is amazing. Thanks Brian.” -closerlookbooks

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