Everyone has their favorite mermaid paint colors. Because after all, we all love to paint mermaids. Right? Right?!
Alright. Not everyone is as cool as you or I. There are some weirdos out there who don’t paint mermaids. I stopped returning their calls a long time ago.
I wrote a whole article on how I get skin tones in watercolor awhile back. To keep it short, I use the following four colors to get either Allie’s (my blonde model) or Roxy’s (my brunette model) skin color – Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Hansa Yellow Medium, and Perylene Red.
I paint seven total layers and I always paint in the same order. The reason I do that is to really play to watercolor’s strengths. Watercolor is absolutely tantalizing for layering. Since it’s transparent, you get to see the layers of paint under the fresh layer of paint you just painted. They all show through each other.
You generally paint light to dark, but always with some exceptions. My very last layer is kind of a white wash where I gloss over her entire body with Titanium White. I found this out by complete accident and have been doing it ever since.
I only learned about Daniel Smith’s Iridescent paints very recently. And you know what? They’re downright magical!
I aim for lascivious when painting mermaids. They should be seductive, since in some of the myths, they’re cursed femme fatale creatures that lure men to their doom. In other tales, they’re more innocent. Totally depends on the set of myths the writer chooses to follow.
I’m intentionally vague. I want you to decide for yourself what you see.
To be honest though, I’m pretty much copying what I see Allie or Roxy doing. They often initiate the poses. Or, we’ll work on an idea together.
But back to her tail – I use only two colors, both by Daniel Smith. I use Rose of Ultramarine and Iridescent Electric Blue. The latter paint is actually a mix of several other paints and when you look closely, you’ll see it. It’s like buying two or three paints in one. Almost scandalous how awesome these paints are!
This comes down to my subject. If it’s Allie, I’m using Hansa Yellow Medium and Perylene Red.
If it’s Roxy, I create my brown from mixing Perylene Red with Hooker’s Green, about 50/50. Those two colors make a luscious brown.
I love both of their hair in real life. Allie’s is currently past her shoulder and Roxy’s is all the way down to her waist.
Anyways, for blondes, I use watered down Perylene Red for where the shadow will be. Then, I do a layer of Hansa Yellow Medium over everywhere.
For brunettes, I use the same brown mix except thicker when I want it darker and more watered down when I want it lighter. That’s yet another thing I love about watercolors. You can change the color’s tone simply by adding more or less water.
Her eyes, lips, nipples, and eye shadow
I’ve been gunning for realism in the past. However, these are mermaids we’re talking about. So I decided to make them more fantasy.
For their eyes, I decided to use that Iridescent one for Allie’s eyes and the same brown mix for Roxy’s eyes as her hair. As for Allie’s eyeshadow, Rose of Ultramarine, slightly watered down. I love how that color really makes the blue pop. For Roxy’s eyeshadow, I use Burnt Sienna slightly watered down. That really brings out the brazen brown of Roxy’s eyes.
Both of them have beautiful nipples in real life. The funny thing is you can get nipple pink from watered down Perylene Red. You’ll use less water where you want the color darker and more water where you want the color lighter. It’s all technique.
And for lips and fingernails? Perylene Red, of course. I can’t possibly compliment this color enough. It’s one of my favorite colors to paint with. It can play so many roles.
I won’t go over the backgrounds. That all depends on whether I have them in regular underwater, deep water, or above water on a beach or a rock.
Let me know if you have any questions. And I’d love to hear from you what colors you love to use for your mermaid paint colors.