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Group Info

Here at the Deviant Mentor program, we pair newer artists up with seasoned ones to give advice, critique, and encouragement. We're here to support new or growing artists of the deviantART community and to make a difference in their art lives.
Founded 7 Years ago
Jan 10, 2010


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342 Members
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This is a follow-up to the blog which you can read here: Things To Know: Creating Human Characters of Color. The previous blog covered the numerous issues surrounding inclusion and diversity that are extremely important to be cognizant of (please read it if you have not yet done so). This blog will cover the nuts and bolts of depictions of non-white humans! Warning: this journal contains a LOT of images. 

This is an important topic because there are very, very few resources that will actually teach you about the differences that occur in the figure across race. All figure drawing measurements are based on the ideal European body type. This was not an accident, as the practice of phrenology (a pseudo science) declared that the most perfect specimen of humanity was the European body and all other iterations were deformities. Thankfully, we now know that to be a lie, but the bias in tutorials remains thus making it harder for artists who are struggling to properly depict people of color. 

#1. Skin

Digital Painting/Drawing Reference Links- SKIN: a chart - SUPPLEMENT IMGSKIN: a tutorial - Part 1SKIN: a tutorial - Part 2, How to paint dark skin characters tutorial packSkintone SwatchesSkintone Swatches IISkin Shades PalettesSkin Palette for MyPaint V2Color Theory Mini: Skin
Traditional Painting/Drawing Reference Links- Painting a PortraitCopic Skin Tone SwatchesMarker Tutorial Part II - ColouringColoring Skin (Color pencils tutorial)Watercolor Tutorial [Techniques + Flowers]Prismacolor Pencil Combinations I - RainbowPrismacolor Pencil Combinations 2: Warm ColorsPrismacolor Pencil Combinations 3: Cool Colors
Your skin is your largest organ. It holds all your guts in, it keeps germs out, and of course, it protects you from the sun! Skin color is one of the biggest indicators of racial background too! Scientists over time have sought to categorize skin tones based on all sorts of things (a lot of it racist :XD: ) however the Von Luschan chromatic scale and the Fitzpatrick scale are still being used to categorize skin tone. The Von Luschan chromatic scale was used to establish classifications by race based on geographical location. 

Very Pale –1-5| Pale – 6-10| Pale/Medium –11-15| Medium –16-20| Medium/Dark –21-25| Dark –26-30| Very Dark –30-36
By contrast, the Fitzpatrick scale is based on how the skin responds to UV light so it can be used to determine how well skin tans or burns in addition to categorizing skin tone by geographic location. Fun fact: because this method of typing is based on numerical values it has been used to make diversified skin tones for emojis.
In order to adequately understand how to whip up realistic and believable skin tones, you must first have some basic knowledge of color theory :D When dealing with skin we use words like "warm" or "cool" to describe the temperature of the color. So how can you know which are warm colors and which are cool colors on the color wheel? Warm tones are the colors that have reds and yellows in them, and cool tones are the colors that have blues and greens in them. 

Another thing to be aware of when adding color to skin is how color can "change" temperature when paired up with other colors. This is called simultaneous contrast. Simultaneous contrast is what happens when two colors interact with one another, and the effect is more striking when used with complimentary colors (complimentary colors are red & green, yellow & purple, blue & orange). 
The purple square is the same tone in each corner!
There is a generalized notion that darker skin tones are cooler in tone. While this can be the case in very rich bluish black skin tones, but light skin tones can be cool too! For example, "porcelain" is a very cool light skin tone. Interestingly enough, Brazilian designer Angelica Dass is currently working on a project to collect a massive library of human skin tones. She has connected the base tone from her photographs with Pantone color codes. You can check out the whole project here:
Pretty nifty stuff, I says!

#2. Hair

Digital Painting/Drawing Reference Links: Hair TutorialCurly Hair - Video TutorialJumbo Hair Palettes ChartCurly and Wavy Hair TutorialAsha's Hair Tutorial 3- CurlyCornrows tutorialBraid TutorialDrawing Ringlets 1Drawing Ringlets 2Drawing Ringlets 3Realism Tutorial+Painting anime hair...tutorial+
Traditional Painting/Drawing Reference Links: Tutorial: Drawing Ethnic HairShiny Hair TutorialCurls: One wayTutorial: How to draw hairHair tutorial 1 - Light hairHair tutorial 2 - Dark hairDrawing HairDrawing Blond Hair TutorialTutorial: Draw Hair : VER. 2.0Hair Tutorial
Hair is another indicator of racial or ethnic identity! Color, sheen, and texture are just as important as the way it is coifed. One common mistake that artists tend to fall into is making all hair straight and super shiny. Yes, healthy hair does have a bit of sheen to it, but not all hair is SUPER glossy and that is because of the hair texture. Hair texture is determined by the shape of the hair follicle. The hair follicle is the tissue that surrounds the root of the hair. 
In cultures around the world hair length, especially for women, is an indicator of beauty. In other cultures hair length can be linked to religion. For Sikh's hair length is connected to one's devotion to God, and it is considered a hate crime in the United States to cut a Sikh's hair for that reason. Hair, just like skin color, must be approached with a manner of respect. In the West hairstyles are simply accessories and customization, but for most of the world hair is a much deeper subject. 

Hairstyles & Headdresses

African Hair:
The African diaspora includes the following people groups:  peoples from AfricaAfrican AmericansAfro-CaribbeansBlack CanadiansAfro-South AmericanZanj, and Siddis.
All people of African descent have some curling or coiling in their hair natural hair texture. It's a common thought that this type of hair grows slowly, and that actually isn't quite true. While everyone's hair does indeed grow at differing rates (diet has a lot to do with it), African type hair tends to be very dry and brittle, prone to breaking easily so it is difficult to maintain or encourage new growth. Additionally, very tightly coiled hair appears to be much shorter than it actually is. Why do you see so many black people with straight hair then? There are two answers to that question: straightening with heatweaves or wigs & relaxers. You're probably familiar with wigs, but you may not be familiar with weaves. A weave is hair extensions that are woven into hair that has been braided tightly against the scalp. 
A relaxer is chemical treatment that permanently alters the physical structure of the hair follicle by straightening it. Relaxers tend to use caustic chemicals that can cause burns or allergic reactions so many people opt to have their hair straightened by a beautician. Because this process is permanent, roots must be touched up as they grow in.
Braids are a common hairstyle for people of Afro-Caribbean descent. Braiding protects hair from the elements and allows it to easily retain moisture. Braiding can be done in any pattern and with as little as one inch of hair. Cornrows (sometimes mistakenly called cornrolls...ugh) are a type of braiding that is done very close to the scalp resembling rows of crops. The term dates back to slavery. 
Images by artist Mickalene Thomas
Twists and locs are also a common hairstyle for the same reason as braids. Because of how tightly curled and coiled African hair tends to be it can tangle or loc up very easily. Contrary to popular belief neither hairstyle is dirty, smelly, or unkempt. 
Closely cropped or shaved styles are common in Western African nations and sub-Sahara Africa where the climate is very hot. Hair is cut short for utilitarian purposes, the main being to stay cool. 

Traditional hairstyles can vary by region and often consist of ornate braided patterns. 
Asian Hair:
Asia is an enormous continent consisting of more than just China, Korea, and Japan. In fact, most of the world's population lives in Asia. Many countries that are colloquially known as parts of the Middle East are also part of Asia. 
Asian hair has a very strong, coarse structure and for that reason it appears to grow faster than other hair types because there is less breakage, however because of this it can be resistant to some styling techniques. It also tends to be straight and less dense than European hair. Because Asian hair grows at an angle from the scalp, it is actually growing upward and very short cuts can look spiky. 
Layered cuts tend to be popular options to add volume to the hair.
K-pop inspired cuts and color are pretty trendy right now. Men's cuts are short on the sides and in longer layers on top, whereas women's styles can be quite varied and unique.  

Traditional hairstyles for weddings and special occasions are often dripping with beautiful jewelry and gems or traditional headdresses. These are not simply fashion accessories and should not be used outside of their intended uses.  
Sri Lankan

#3. Facial Features


Digital Painting/Drawing Resource Links: Massive Face TutorialSemi-realism nose - step by step, Everything Concerning LipsDrawing the Nose Video Tutorial, Exercise 24: Let's Draw a NoseHuman Nose- TUTORIAL,  Human Mouth- TUTORIAL, Age Progression of an Asian Eye, monolids, doublelids and hooded eyes, the all expansive 'asian' eye drawing guidei
Traditional Painting/Drawing Resource Links: Drawing reference : Asian eyesFace Patterns TutorialDrawing Mouths Tutorial Black People in Cartoon, Anime, and mangMANGA to REALISTIC PART ELEVEN Mouth TutorialTutorial: female lipsnose and lips - sketch tut

Nose and lip shape are another indicator of racial background. You've probably wondered from time to time why people of differing races have different nasal shapes, and the reason is adaptation! People of European descent have narrow noses because of the colder climates of the Northern Hemisphere. It's easier for the body to heat freezing air that has been inhaled through a narrower passage because it gets in contact with the mucous layer of the nose first. American craniofacial surgeon Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt created mathematical "Masks" to measure beauty. The Marquardt Beauty Mask is based on the golden ratio (which is based on the Fibonacci Sequence). Faces which fall into the bounds of these ratios are considered "beautiful." This mask can actually be very helpful to artists struggling with facial proportions. 
The Marquardt Beauty Mask frontal and lateral view. The stuff of nightmares. 
African: Lower lip 18 degrees wider from the corner of the mouth and extending to inferiorly to the labio-mental fold, Upper lip 18 degrees wider from the corner of the mouth and extending to the philtrum, Wider nose and nostrils (nasal ala and nares extend laterally) – such that the lateral aspect of the nostril (nare) is on the naso-labial fold, Eye brows in the brow zone superior to that of the Mask, Lateral border of the face slightly narrower than the Mask.
Asian: Medial epicanthic fold, Lateral epicanthic fold, Lateral border of the face significantly wider than the Mask, Eye brows slightly superior to that of the Mask with shorter tails, Slightly wider nose and nostrils (nasal ala and nares extend laterally), Superiorly positioned nasal columella creating a longer upper lip.
European: Slightly vertically thin upper and lower lips, Flat eyebrow (very little arch), Slightly wider nose, Lateral border of the face slightly wider than the Mask, (Narrow eyes, longer vertical chin, longer nose).
Composite images of "averages" have been created at and are rather interesting to review! Composite images taken of hundreds of people of varied nationalities make an average male or female face in this project. 

Average Filipino Male

Average Samoan Male

Average South African Female

#4. Mixed Race/Multi-Ethnic Individuals

I want to begin this section by first saying that there is a commodification of people who are mixed race based on their "exotic" looks and it is wrong. There are multiple outlets all over the internet declaring that multi-racial people are "more beautiful" amongst other things, including people going out of their way to conceive multi-racial children. Those sentiments are sickening. Not because people of multi-racial backgrounds are not beautiful, all people can be beautiful, but rather they are reduced to objects of desire based on how "different" they look.
"Mixed folks are great – GO US – but it’s simply not due to our genetic difference from the rest of humanity. We are not aliens; we are not dogs or other domesticated animals. We’re just another socially-defined group of people, and a force to be reckoned with – like the rest of our species." ChopTensils
About 8% of the Earth's population of humans is multi-racial. This means that these humans have ethnic and or racial backgrounds that differ in both parents. What features a person receives has a lot to do with dominant and recessive genes, and inheritance of skin color is an even more complex process because there are multiple genes involved. 

If you're confused, you're doing it right. 
There are at least eight genes involved in the genetic inheritance of skin color. For example my dad, and this is the only way to help you understand in layman's terms XD, was the same color as Beyonce :XD: But I didn't inherit that trait in spite of having grandparents on both sides being that shade of brown. 

I was a super cute baby as you can see. 
When it comes to other features their last effects from generation to generation depends on their dominance.

You can probably figure out what you've inherited from your parents using this handy dandy chart!
Because of the complexities of skin color inheritance, skin color cannot be assumed for people who are multi-racial until they are born. Hair type and eye color are dominant genes so they are the most inherited traits. However in some cases, such as Rashida Jones's (as seen in the gif above), hair, nose width, and eye color were not inherited from her African American father, however her sister Kidada did inherit those traits. 

Some other famous peeps whom you may not know are multi-racial are...
Norah Jones, her father was world renowned Indian sitar composer Pandit Ravi Shankar. 
Slash, his mother was African American. 
Tom Morello, his father Stephen Ngethe Njoroge was the first Kenyan ambassador to the United States. 
Maya Rudolph, her mother was African American soul singer Minnie Riperton. 
Shakira, her father was Lebanese. 

In closing I hope that the images, information, and resources were helpful to your endeavors! Let me know if you have any additional questions down in the comments section!


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koimonster22 Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2016  Student General Artist
do you accept writing prompts?
PageOHaraWriter Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2016  Student Digital Artist
No sorry, we are a Mentor-Mentee pairing group, but we are happy to accept literary mentors! You would be working with just a mentee that you find or finds you. Let me know any further questions.
koimonster22 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2016  Student General Artist
Well I'm not a mentor, is it possible for you to add that in the future?
PageOHaraWriter Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2016  Student Digital Artist
If you would like to suggest a writing prompt for our Seasonal Theme let me know in a note when June rolls around. That's when this Seasons Theme will end. Otherwise, try a literature group!
(1 Reply)
falcoDArgento Featured By Owner Edited Feb 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello there!
I'm honored you've invited me to this interesting project, I'll be trying my best to meet the expectations.
I have a question tho, I'm sorry if this is in any journal but I've been going around on the how to's of mentorship and didn't solve it: Is being a mentor meant to be working with a single person / certain people only? Like being assigned a group of people to work with? Or is it more like I pick something and work with it regardless whose it is?

Thanks a lot in advance
PageOHaraWriter Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2016  Student Digital Artist
As a mentor you will be working one-on-one with the mentee of your choice.
You'll be getting a note with some more information shortly!
Starwarrior4ever Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the invite!!!  :D  I was actually about to join the group but couldn't decide wether to be a mentee or a mentor, but then you invited me (and as a mentor as well, I'm honored!) so I guess that solved my little problem! XD    I'll be happy to help out in any way I can! :D  
PageOHaraWriter Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Of course! And you are free to be a mentee as well as a mentor, just add your name to both lists. I'll be sending you a note with more info shortly.
Starwarrior4ever Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Okay great, thanks!
SzkArt Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Can you join both as a mentor and a mentee? Because I'd like both
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