Can you help me paint a burn injury on a human character please? Karen Spick, England
The best way to learn how to paint something realistically is to study and observe real-life references. So if you want to learn how to paint a burns victim, the first step is to search for photographs of burn injuries. Naturally, seeing such images can be distressing, but if you’re determined to paint the topic then references are key.
There are some characteristics of heat injuries that you should consider. The texture of burned skin features distinctive wrinkles and foldings. The worse the burns are, the more intense that texture will be. The make-up artist who designed Freddy Krueger’s look used the melted cheese on a pepperoni pizza as a reference for the character’s burned face. So if you have problems understanding the burned flesh texture, do the same thing: observe and try to paint melted cheese, then apply the results to your character.
If you’re painting a face, bear in mind that the facial features can even melt away: lips become thicker and wider, noses can shrink in size, and if the wounds are bad enough then some features can disappear or melt together. There are some pigmentation changes on the skin that you should consider (red, yellow or dark tones, while black skin can become white in burnt areas). Finally, don’t forget that a burned scalp will have a significantly reduced amount of hair.
Examining photos of people who have burn wounds is the best way to understand the peculiarities of this kind of injury, and therefore go about depicting them realistically. You can use a textured brush to paint the texture of burnt skin. Some textured brushstrokes here and there can achieve a lot.