View Full Version : Questions about painting Shadows??

11-26-2007, 06:52 AM

As i read in a forum about Ojects shadows... Shadows are not simply pure "Black" and Shadows contens all colors.

Because of the limit to mix oilpastels together, what colour you are choice to paint shadows??

Which are the role from Object Color and Background Color to choice the "Right" Shadow Color??

For example: if the Object is "Pure" white and the Background is "pure" white, what Color you will paint the Shadow?

In this case, what is, if the Object is "pure" RED OR the Backgroud are "pure" Blue ??? What is the differenz to above example??

Is there a Relationship between Object color / Background color and Shadow color or not??

Thanks in advantage.

Pat Isaac
11-26-2007, 07:14 AM
Kind of a tough question as it depends on many things i.e....what the ovject is on, what the light is, any other surrounding objects. In general, the shadow of an object reflects it's color and then darkens the surface of the shadow area. The object also picks up some of the color of the surface that it is on. Shadows are usually cool, so if the surface is brown, som blues can be added to the shadow. I prefer never to use black as I think it dulls color and a richer tone can be made by mixing the colors. As for white, remember that it picks up all the colors around it. Blues and purples are a good color choice for shadows on white. This is a thread from the oil pastel library that might be helpful. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=227188
Show us some work and we can help you as you go along.
Welcome to the forum...:wave:

11-26-2007, 08:16 AM
Hello Pat.

Thanks for the Link.

I had follow your WIP in this Site......a excellent WIP:clap:.

I haven't paint the cloth...was to complicated for me.

I have yet a Blue Background(from paper) but without the Cloth is there something missing.:p.

I had add Shadows to the apples with red-violett BUT here is also something missing. Shadows also has i little blue from background.

Sorry, i have no picture:o.

I have also a additional question for you.

I use Van Gogh oilpastels, if i cover a area with a color, after 5 min. this are a has "holes"... What is this phenomenum???:evil:

To little / to much pastell in this area ??
to heavy apply the pastel ? (very difficult to apply this Brand)

Paper not correct ?? ( I use Canson pastellpaper).


Pat Isaac
11-26-2007, 08:30 AM
Glad you are trying the WIP, wish I could see a picture.
The "holes" you are referring to may be due to the texture of the paper. Van Gogh oil pastels tend to be hard, a student grade, and not easy to blend. You might try using a color shaper to move the OPs around and fill in the holes. If you can it would be good to get a few of the professional brand OPs, Holbein, Sennelier, or Caran D'Ache to get a feel for what they can do. You will find a big difference.
I find Canson paper hard to work with as I am not able to build up may layers. I prefer Art Spectrum colorfix or Wallis. These are sanded papers and take the OPs very nicely.


11-26-2007, 10:51 AM
Welcome to the Oil Pastel forum, Marsias. I have trouble with shadows, too. It's often hard to tell the colours in a photo, because they always render darks too dark and light colours too light.

Outdoor shadows are perhaps a little easier to see in that, on a sunny day, the light outdoors has both a blue ambient light source, the sky, and a directional yellow light source, the sun. Shadows are created when the directional sunlight is cut off by some object, but the ambient light remains to some degree - hence, the shadows are generally the colour of the surface onto which they fall, illuminated by the blue ambient light. Other outdoor lighting conditions can change this, and the time of day also influences the colours to some degree.

Indoor lighting situations are even more complicated: our light sources can be warm tungsten bulbs or cooler fluorescent bulbs, and you can buy bulbs in particular colour/temperature ranges. Still lifes may be lit by both directional (spot-light) and ambient (room) light, and the sources may both be warm (yellow/red) or both be cool (blue). So you can see why it's not easy to judge the colours in the shadows. Pat's given you some good ideas to follow. Sometimes you just have to try things out to see how they look.

I agree with Pat that the Canson paper is hard to work with - it has a marked texture which creates holes easily. My favorite paper is Artspectrum colourfix. I also agree that softer professional OPs are easier to blend and you will be able to fill in holes more easily with them. I would recommend Sennelier or Holbein Artist OPs if you can find and afford them. (Note, Holbein makes a student version so be sure you are buying the Artist line). Good luck with Pat's still life - it's a challenge. Jane

11-26-2007, 10:55 AM
Thank you pat.:wave:

Which of the prof. pastels produce a image like a oilpaint ?:confused:

Jane : I turn over the canson paper to work with oilpastels.
The backsite is smoother than the front site.

Colourfix are very expensive!! :evil:

I think a problem is also the Van gogh oilpastels.


Carey Griffel
11-26-2007, 03:08 PM

Unfortunately there is no formula you can reliably use for shadows. It depends on the color of the object, the color of the surface the shadow falls upon, the area of the shadow (is it close to the object or further away), and very importantly the light--what color the light is as well as how strong the light is.

In addition, very few things are "pure" color, anyway. A red apple has not only red in it, but it can have green or purple or even brown. A "white" object is complicated by a lot of reflected color. And then you have different surfaces, as well...smooth, reflective, soft, textured...

So you see, it cannot be summed up in simple terms. Really the only thing you can do is observe from life. Photos never do shadows justice, either in tone or in color. There are a lot of subtle light effects that are *only* visible by the human eye that a camera can never capture. Plus, all things are relative to how the eye can see. Have a look at this video to see what I mean!


Perhaps the most important element that you are missing in how you think about shadow in your first post is that you are not giving any thought to the *light* involved. After all, it is the light that gives us the shadow.


11-26-2007, 04:27 PM

the important of the light for the Shadows are to me clear !.:)

Because the most objects are from the Reflib i have here not trully "original" light.

Questions was how i paint these shadows .:confused:

Some advice gave to me Pat : "if a suject are Brown so the Shadow has som Blue".............Shadows have mostly "cool" colors........:clap:

I wont to know, how the others members locate/paint the Shadows color especially if the referenz pictures are from the reflib.


11-28-2007, 01:46 PM
Marcias: Welcome to the OP Forum! :wave:

Shadows can be tricky to paint, but can also present an opportunity for enhancing the painting overall. I've found that using just a little bit of the object's compliment (e.g. a little bit of dark green in the shadow of a red apple) can be very effective. Generally a photo won't show this, but one can use a little artistic license to add it in anyway. When you're dealing with white objects it's a whole different ballgame - one generally needs to use pale color to describe the white of the object and that in turn effects what color one might use for the shadow. And as people have mentioned, it all depends on the lighting source - even more so in the case of white objects.

If Colorfix paper is hard on your budget, you might consider getting some Colorfix primer, which is more economical. You just paint it on another surface (make sure to use a surface that isn't too absorbent, or else the paper might buckle).

It's important to remember that as with painting in general, there are many ways to approach painting shadows. I hope you'll be able to post some of your work, because it's lots easier to offer advice when we can see an example.

11-28-2007, 09:09 PM
Cool light; warm shadow. Warm light; cool shadow.

JJ covered it in one of her tutorials. Check out the learning zone. Lot's of lessons on Wet Canvas which will answer most of your questions. Color is color and it doesn't matter if it's oils, acrylics, pastels or watercolor. Composition and value studies are the same in all media.

This site is a great place to learn and no tuition is due. Have fun.