7 Tips for Oil Painting Convincing Shadows


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What colors make shadows?

The way a shadow is painted can make a painting as easy as ruining it. Shadows should not be done at a last-minute after the fact, something totally separate from the main subject of the painting, but should be taken as seriously as anything else.

There are many things to consider when it comes to painting shadows and it is not as easy as putting black paint on. Let's take a look at the tips and techniques painters use to create realistic shadows that are part of the final painting.

Avoid black for shadows

Pure black, straight from the tube, is invariably too dark in tone and too uniform (or flat) in color to cast a satisfactory shade. Few of the shadows in nature are actually black, so you need to keep these colors in mind when painting shadows.

What is a good approach to shadows?

  • Mixing a chromatic black is an improvement over pure black. It looks black but it is not black.
  • Using a complementary color for the shadow will produce a more subtle and natural effect. It is a privileged approach to the shadows.

The colors the impressionists used for shadows

The final lesson on proper shadow colors comes from the Impressionists. They were not only masters of painting, but also of observing nature and the effects of light. Through this, they learned to mix and use colors to create bright shadows.

If black is not allowed on the palette, what exactly are you wearing?

  • Greens and purples are popular ombre colors.
  • Deep blues are a nice touch too, as many shades have a natural blue undertone.

Understanding the types of shadows

A crucial part of painting a successful shadow is identifying what type of shadow it is, as there is no generic shadow. You need to know what the differences are between a drop shadow and a shaped shadow and how to paint them.

Wait, is there more than one type of shadow?

  • A shape shadow is the part of a naturally darker and farthest object from the light source.
  • These shadows are used (along with highlights) to define the "shape" of the object.
    A parallel shadow is one created by an object that blocks the light that falls on another object. For example, your shadow on the sidewalk on a sunny day.

When to create shadows

At what point in a painting should you make the shadows? Painters have to make decisions about when to paint shadows and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Decisions, decisions ... When to paint the shadows?

  • Leave the shaded area blank until you are ready to do it.
  • Paint the shadow over another paint using a varnish or similar technique.

Don't forget the texture and tone.

Like the other parts of your painting, the shadows should have depth. Avoid painting "flat" shadows, but think of it the same way you do with the brighter parts of paint.

What does a shadow need to be credible?

  • Texture - look at the shadows around you right now. Have they lost all the details and texture? Of course not, and neither should your painting.
  • Hue or Value: Shadows are not a flat color, but have darker and lighter values ​​in the shadow.

Adding shadows with watercolor frosting

Create a soft watercolor shadow with the last coat of polish. Again, this is not done with black paint but with a suitable primer.

How can an enamel create shadows?

  • The multiple layers of color are used in a polish blend to resemble the dark shades of an ombre.
  • It's best to start light because you can add more layers of frosting, but you can't remove it if it gets too dark.

Everything (including water) has shadows

Don't think shadows don't apply to seascapes and other water scenes. Everything has shade, not only the rocks on the shore, but also the waves.

Pay attention to the angle of the sun.

  • Your water scenes will have more or less numerous shadows and deeper or softer depending on the direction of the light.
  • Shadows add dimension to the water and give it the ability to express moving waves or flowing currents.

Enjoy The Video Tutorial about Painting Shadows in Oil Paint!

Source: Paul Foxton

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