View Full Version : HELP needed with choosing color shades-tint!

02-25-2012, 03:48 PM
Hi, I am new to painting, I have been doing graphite drawing for over 3 decades (B&W).Because I have always been scared of COLORS, scared to death!:crying: And now I am just about ready to give my color try again because I am gonna pull my hair out from trying to match the color shades and tints to make the white horse . This painting has already like 6 different coats and it`s still far away from where I wanted to be. I am just about to put in in the trash. How do I shade the white horse, please? Don`t worry about the back ground.BTW I am trying for a realistic look of the horse. It`s just too contrasty every time I try a new layer and the colors don`t go together, seems to me( a huge amateur in painting).

Rick G
02-25-2012, 04:13 PM
Here's an excerpt from Jacqueline Penney's book, "Discover the Joy of Acrylic Painting", that you might find helpful:

It is a challenge to paint white on white because of the close values and tints. When I was teaching my weekly classes I used the white enamelware to illustrate those subtleties. I asked the class, "What color is this coffee pot?" and the answer was always "white." Then I asked them what color the highlight is. This always produced an "aha" look and I would continue asking them what they saw when I placed other objects nearby. You could almost hear the cognitive switch from left-brain to right-brain mode as described in Dr. Betty Edward's book, "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". They stopped thinking and started seeing; realizing that white is never just white.

So, basically, you need to think of pure white, or close to it, being reserved for the brightest highlights on the horse. Next, think about what areas are going to have warmer tones, perhaps such as the back and mane, and use warmer colors to tint the whites in those areas. For the areas that are cooler, such as the underside of the horse, you probably want to use blues and greens, perhaps a bit of Payne's Gray, to tint the white. A little dab of color goes a long way when tinting white. Think a bit about what colors are being reflected from surrounding objects as well.

Relax and have fun with it.

02-25-2012, 05:25 PM
I can only say how I would approach it... I would make up a middle color, paint the whole thing that color and start to add light and shade to it... using very thinned pure titanium white and building the brrightest whites gradually, ...

Rick G
02-25-2012, 08:46 PM
You may want to check out how equestrian artist, Janey Belozer, handles this in some of her paintings:


02-25-2012, 10:28 PM
Thank you to both of you, I think my biggest problem is "I don`t know what I see(what colors)" so it is hard then to "draw what you see". How can I learn "to see"?

02-26-2012, 08:40 AM
Yes, as Rick said you need to keep the white of the horse, pure white to contrast the shadows better. Personally, and I'm no expert, I would use some blues and browns/greys for the shadows.
Just a little point though, maybe the head could be a little larger, as I see it - it seems a bit small compared to the rest of the horse. Great movement and look forward to seeing how it comes along.

Kathrin G.
02-26-2012, 09:07 AM
Thank you to both of you, I think my biggest problem is "I don`t know what I see(what colors)" so it is hard then to "draw what you see". How can I learn "to see"?

I so know where you are coming from in that quest :grouphug: I did graphite for 2 years and was really comfortable with my "shades of grey" But then I decided I wanted to try out colour and boy it is a huge learning curve :eek: Everyone tells you that you just need to paint what you see. But how to get to that point of seeing is where it stops for us already, let alone getting to the point of mixing that exact shade. Anyway, you know all that already :lol:
I find the colour picker tool on my photo editing program a great help. It takes a while to convince yourself that the program is actually really right, but it is and it helps :) Or punch a hole in a piece of card and put that on your printed out reference. Seeing the colour isolated from its surroundings will let you see it clearer.
For your specific painting here, white is a highly reflective colour, picking up colours from its surroundings. So if you want to let your horse sit better in its fantasy background, I would use purples and blues in the shadow areas and light pinks in the lighter areas, preserving the white for highlights.

It does get easier as you paint more. So push past the fear and just enjoy the journey :wave:

02-26-2012, 11:43 AM
So I finished the piece. I need to let it sit a while to be able to see it from more neutral angle.(not being mad at it anymore). Yes, I made the head a little larger(it could still be bigger than it is), it seemed small to me as well. I know it could look better than it does, but I am not going back to repairing anything, I`ve had enough of it for now. Thanks to all of you for your support, I appreciate it. I will post other piece when I will be working on something again. But let me know what you think about this finished piece, please. Suggestions and commenst are always welcome.

Ms Nan
02-26-2012, 04:38 PM
Very nice - good to see your progress.

02-27-2012, 02:14 PM
Great background on the finished piece. Look forward to seeing more of your work soon.

03-04-2012, 04:45 PM
posted some new works here:


03-05-2012, 11:45 AM
Fabulous finish, love all of your horse paintings!!
there are alot of colors in the shades of white, study some snow scenes and snow paintings.
They use shades of pink,purples and blues for shading, very little grays.
just play around with titanium white and little red and blues.