I have had an increasing number of fellow needle felters ask me how I do the skin tones on my felted faces. Here are the basics.
First of all, if you are new to needle felting faces, may I suggest checking out the instructional videos by Kay Petal at https://feltalive.com/
When I first started my creative journey into needle felting, I came across Kay Petal and her Felt Alive online. I purchased her “Felt Alive Dolls” 5 discs set and all the supplies I needed and gave it a shot. Now five or six years in, I haven’t used the videos in a while, and have done a lot of tweaking to create my style, but Kay’s techniques still lay at the core of how I make my needle felted faces. Kay has moved on in a different direction but still shares her instructional videos on her website.
My very first needle felted dolls using Kay Petals instructions.
Being a detail-oriented artist, I am always looking for ways to improve or take my techniques up a notch. As my faces evolved I knew that just plain skin tone was not going to be enough detail, so I created a skin tone palette, thus being able to add contouring and highlights.
These are the shades of wool I use to mix my skin tone palette. They tend to change with what I have available but the basic concept stays the same. I start with the original skin tone (the peachy/med beige tone in the center) and then add an assortment of oranges, pinks, browns, cremes and a smidge of blue or purple. From this, I mix the color I want by combining the appropriate shades and “combing” them together with my fingers. I will generally end up with nine or ten shades.
A couple of darker shades for shadowing , two or three more general skin tone shades for areas like the temples, forehead, etc. and then a few light highlight shades. I also make a light and dark version of blush and have a pure bright white for the glisten in the eye and teeth.
The first picture is plain skin tone without detail and the last is finished, with a few of the steps in between.
A close up of the detail shows a bit of the shading and highlights and color mixing. When viewed this close, wool always looks fuzzy.