Texturing: Skin Texture

Week 3 of texturing painting in photoshop and we are looking at a close up skin texture, looking at all the different layers that make up the skin and how we can make these visible yet believable in our texture painting.

It always helps to have a reference photo handy, to make sure that things remain in proportion and relative to each other.

Starting off with a mid skin colour for the base tissue, using the paint bucket for a straight fill colour.


Before we can look at painting the top layers of the skin, first we need to look at building up the layers we can’t normally see just below the surface. Through careful layering this will help convey some translucently appearance to the texture.

The subsurface – We are aiming to create a random texture on this layer alternating between light and dark tones of the same hue as the base tissue layer. Opacity should be kept quite low, roughly around 23%, as for the brush a spackled or a brush with some texture will do.


Capillaries – Making sure when you choose the colour for this layer you don’t make it too saturated, picking a darker, redder version of the base layer. Keeping the opacity around 23% and using a smaller brush, start to paint a random scribble effect.


Once you are happy with your random scribble effect, apply a bevel & emboss effect layer. This part is completely up to your own artistic taste. What are are trying to achieve is a bit of three dimensional feel.


Veins – Picking a greeny, grey colour, making sure the saturation isn’t too high as we don’t want the veins to be popping out when we put the top surface layers on.

It is crucial that the opacity with pen pressure and size with pen pressure are switched on. Very delicately draw in some veins, when you are happy with the overall look of them, reduce the brush size and start to increase the saturation a tiny bit in the colour and start moving into the blue hues, painting in some finer details on the veins you just painted.

Opacity should only be about 50%  on the overall opacity control.


Like on the capillary layer, we now add a bevel & emboss effects layer to the veins.

skin_006lgSkin – In this tutorial we will be using Caucasian skin tones. Using a milky skin colour, fill the layer using the paint bucket tool. We then set the layer mode to  Screen and drop the layer opacity to 58% or something that suits you.


Now it is time to add in the pores layer to the skin. Using a spattery brush and a darker tone of the base tissue colour, start to paint in some pores. Keeping the opacity down and keeping in mind the size of the pores in relativity to the size of the overall skin texture.

Also adding a bevel & emboss to this layer and keeping the opacity down to 52% and changing the layer mode to hard light.


This next thumbnail of my process, I actually went in and started erasing and putting in smaller pores, more subtle.


Sun damage – Everybody has a little bit of sun damage on their skin. Duplicating the sub surface layer move the copy to the top of the layers and change the layer mode to soft light.

Getting your eraser, make sure you have the opacity down and pen pressure turned on. Go in and lightly erase some of the layer but using the brush more like a stamp.


Last few steps are focusing on the freckles. I chose a brown colour which looked like it fit well with the rest of the colours in the texture.

Keeping the opacity down using a hard edge round brush I light place in my freckles.


Then slowly increasing the opacity of the colour on the brush I start to build up the colour on some of the freckles. If I was to do this to all the freckles, it would not look natural. This concludes my skin texture.



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