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The Arts For Life Guide to Art Supplies: Materials to Match Every Skin Tone

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When we say we believe that art is for everyone, we need to make sure that the art materials we use are for everyone too!

When a young artist at one of our tables picks up a colored pencil, crayon, or marker to draw a portrait, it’s important that they have choices that reflect who they are. That means it’s important for us to provide materials that are truly representative of every skin tone. Suppliers have come a long way since the days when they offered only one “skin color”in the box, and there is still a ways to go. The materials on the list below are a great start though, and standard fixtures in each of our art cabinets.


Crayons & Markers

These drawing materials are notorious for being tricky — if not impossible — to mix smoothly, so no amount of trying will produce an accurate skin tone.

For Crayons, we like the Crayola Multicultural Colors because they offer packs in both standard size crayons and large crayons for artists who need something a little bigger to grip. Michaels | Amazon

When it comes to markers, Crayola Multicultural Colors [Broad Line Markers] are great for beginners and offer 10 different shades. Blick | Michaels | Amazon  

For older or more advanced artists, or for fine art projects, we like Tombow Dual Brush Pens Portrait Set, which actually blend nicely when you brush them with a wet brush. Blick | Amazon

Or for permanent color, we are huge fans of Prismacolor Double-Ended Markers Blick | Michaels | Amazon


Colored Pencils

While colored pencils are easier to blend together to get the exact color you’re looking for, having a greater variety of colors to start from is so important – especially for younger artists.

For beginning artists, we recommend the Crayola Multicultural Colors Colored Pencil [Set of 8]. Blick | Michaels | Amazon

For older or more advanced artists, or for fine art projects, we love the Prismacolor Portrait Colored Pencil Set which includes 24 different colors!




If you’re making a collage with paper, lots of choices for different skin tones is essential. We typically use full sheets of construction paper in different shades, and then cut them to the shapes we need, but  you can also find pre-cut faces, hands and full body outlines as well.

We like Pacon Sunworks Multicultural Construction Paper for the great variety of shades in this mix pack Blick | Michaels | Amazon 

We are also fans of Pacon Tru-Ray single color packs for more vibrant, colorfast colors including dark brown, warm brown and tan. Blick | Amazon




Jack Richeson Skin-Tone Tempera Cake Set

Like colored pencils, you can often mix an accurate skin color with paint, but again, it’s much easier to do that when you have a close match from the start. When possible, we like to invite young artists to mix up EXTRA paint when making the perfect skin-tone match — reminding them to work slowly while adding colors — and keep some in an empty container specially labeled for each artist.

For beginning artists, we like (you guessed it) Crayola Multicultural Colors Washable Liquid Tempera Paints because they are washable and easy to mix.

We also like the Jack Richeson Skin-Tone Tempera Cakes because they last forever and are super easy to keep clean. Blick | Amazon

For more advanced artists,we’re fans of this Dick Blick Student Grade Tempera Multicultural Set.

For more tips on what kind of paint would be best for your project, see The Arts For Life Guide to Paint.


Other Craft Supply Ideas 

While we’ve listed a few basics above, there are a TON of other craft supplies that you can also use to make sure all artists feel represented! Here are a couple that we couldn’t live without:

We use a lot of Crayola Model Magic at our tables, and this Naturals Set is an absolute must for our sculpture projects.

This set of Creativity Street Chenille Stems  is another art-table staple.


Do you have a great addition to this list? Share it with us in the comments below!


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