How to paint pinched flesh in 4 steps

Distort and stretch, but know when and when not to add exaggeration, with artist Paco Rico Torres.

How to paint pinched flesh in 4 steps

Notice how the redness of the affected skin area helps to convey a feeling of intense discomfort

Attaching a metal clamp to someone's body, such as on an ear, immediately creates pressure on the flesh and is a good example to use. Because of the clamp's weight it also pulls the skin down. If you manage to depict this properly, it should look like the clamp is securely attached and applying downwards pressure.

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To depict the pressure that the clamp exercises on the body, simply paint the clamp as if it's sunk into the face. The human flesh is quite soft so it should bend around any object that's pressing on it.

This is a subtle effect, so feel free to exaggerate it to achieve a more intense look. Furthermore, try to add some red on the skin around the clamp. The skin becomes red if you apply pressure to it, which is something that can help to visually translate the sensation of uncomfortable pressure to the viewer.

01. Science of pain

How to paint pinched flesh in 4 steps

The clamp displaces the flesh from where it's exercising pressure to the sides, creating two big masses of flesh that surround and partially hide the clamp itself.

Here that effect is exaggerated, but it makes the clamp look like it's really biting into the lip. As long as you don't force it too much, exaggeration is the key here.

02. Nice to ear from you

How to paint pinched flesh in 4 steps

In the case of the ear, the pressure isn't so obvious because an ear is less puffy than a lip. I stretch the lower part of the ear to depict the weight, but in this case, try to be subtle, because if you go too far it'll look like a piece of chewed bubblegum instead of flesh.

Exaggeration here isn't recommended.

03. Seeing red

How to paint pinched flesh in 4 steps

You can add red around the clamp easily using a Soft Light layer at a low opacity. As you can see, not every part of the body reacts the same way to a clamp: some parts become more puffier as pressure is applied. Try to reflect such real-life differences in your art to achieve a more natural result.

04.Conveying feelings

If you're painting a battle scene, you have many ways to grab the viewer's eye, but if your image is of a person with clamps on their skin, you have to focus on conveying a feeling, since you have little else to work with.

To achieve this, every detail – expression, level of realism, colour, for example – counts!

Words: Paco Rico Torres

Paco Rico Torres is a freelance illustrator living in Spain who's produced art for several card games, magazines, books and role-playing games.

This article first appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 89.

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