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Old 02-19-2019, 03:27 AM
Iri Iri is offline
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Smile Highlights and shadows?


As I'm quite new to painting I was wondering if you could recommend any materials i.e. books, videos, youtube on how to paint highlights and shadows with oils?

I know this question might have been posted before, but as I recently joined to this site still trying to get my way around.

Thank you
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Old 02-19-2019, 06:07 AM
ntl ntl is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Welcome! A good way to search wetcanvas is via google search. Type your query into google: highlights and shadows with oils wet canvas
Enjoy your journey
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Old 02-19-2019, 08:43 AM
Iri Iri is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Thank you 😊 I have realised that this is the best way to search in wet canvas.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:16 AM
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Dcam Dcam is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

If you are in the USA, Barnes and Noble Art section. Tons of how-to books.
Also your public library and that's free.
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Old 02-19-2019, 10:20 AM
TomMather TomMather is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Here is some general advice, gleaned from experience as well as many books on oil painting.

Start an oil painting with your dark values, after sketching in the composition. Donít paint darks colors too thickly. If you need to deepen your darks in subsequent layers, do it with thin coats or glazes.

Next paint your mid-tones, and save your highlights for last. I usually wait until my first or second layers have dried before adding highlights. One of the great things about oils is that light colors will cover dark and mid tones very well, unlike watercolors for example. Building up highlights with thicker paint or more layers will add to their prominence. If you try to paint highlights too soon, while darks are still wet, it can be tricky. However, there are alle prima methods for doing this, but hard to achieve.
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Last edited by TomMather : 02-19-2019 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:05 AM
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Humbaba Humbaba is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

The general rule taught in books is this:

Paint the darks first, followed by the middle and light tones. The highlights are painted last, this is what makes the painting stand out.

Once a painting is finished, if you wish, you can enhance its appearance by adding shadows or highlights, but you must be extremely careful.

Jose Ml. Parramon books, such as the Big Book of Oil painting, or Color Theory could provide valuable information regarding shadows. Keep in mind that these books were originally written in Spanish, and later translated, this could in a certain way make difficult its understanding.
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Old 02-19-2019, 03:23 PM
ik345 ik345 is online now
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

I've searched a lot, reading reviews on Amazon. Finally I've bought How to paint, by Gloria Foss. I had the luck of finding it at Thrift books, around 10 dollars, plus shipping to Europe. But now I think that for a beginner it is many times more worth. It is out of print. You can also buy a scanned copy from her family,.or something like that. But get it, you won't be disappointed.
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:31 AM
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AnnieA AnnieA is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Iri, welcome to WC! It's really difficult to recommend a beginner's book, because so much depends on how and what you want to paint. Authors, as well as instructors typically teach the style of painting that they know and use, which only makes sense. But really, there are so many ways to do an oil painting, which is what makes oil painting really exciting! But it's also what makes it hard to advise a beginner.

Do you have some examples of paintings that really excite you, that are in a style you'd like to learn? If so, why don't you post a few examples. It'll make it a lot easier to recommend a good book for you.
C&C always welcome ©

ďLife is a pure flame and we live by an invisible sun within us.Ē
― Sir Thomas Browne

Last edited by AnnieA : 02-20-2019 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:56 AM
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Ted Bunker Ted Bunker is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

I found the YouTube videos from Mark Carder (Draw Mix Paint) and Paul Foxton very enlightening. Both use methods for isolating and identifying the actual color of the light and dark portions while working from life in a shadow box or from photos. Often the color that we think we see is not the actual color due to simultaneous contrast; our eyes and mind fool us. Much that we "see" in the world is of a darker value and lower chroma than we expect, and there is the human tendency to exaggerate the value-contrasts when reproducing what we actually see.

Both Carder's and Foxton's methods are learning methods in the studio, not necessarily techniques for creating works. I also recommend the videos of Stefan Baumann on broader topics of composition, presentation and working alla prima and en plein air.

If you really want to fall down the rabbit-hole, there is the protean Handprint website of Bruce MacEvoy for color theory, paint, and watercolor technique.
Radical Fundemunsellist

Last edited by Ted Bunker : 02-27-2019 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 11-15-2019, 03:24 AM
Iri Iri is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Thank you so much all, all info are appreciated. Itís pretty amazing how many info you can get here in WC.

So far Iím leaning towards landscape, cityscape and seascape in an impressionistic style.

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Old 11-16-2019, 08:24 AM
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Lazarus E Lazarus E is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

its really tricky, some even wont understand how to explain it to you.
even books arnt that good to not keep the secret
you need a range of palette that you are using for particular propose of painting and from those colors you supose to get the maximum correct darks and lights you will use at what you work on that moment. highlight wil always contain contrast color of the dark side even a little,even dark area in your paitings will have to have lighter tones to with same value ofc but a bit of change to brake the monotone.
i will refer you to a youtube channel which focus on landscapes and seascapes. ofc there are short and and not the whole clips but you will be able to understand by yourself some ideas, watch it again and again and analized it, you will be better understanding after watching those clips.
i didnt bought yet his full clips which are not that expensive but i think they are worth. 30$ for 2 and half which he explaine very well. i already made 3 replica of his paintings just by watching his youtube.
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Old 11-16-2019, 09:39 AM
Romanticist Romanticist is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

I bought "Living Craft" by Tad Spurgeon. As someone confident in painting, but new to oils, he maps out the entire continent of pigments, mediums, driers, and palette sensibly to what the artist may be trying to achieve. It's very technical, and tends to describe things very scientifically, but also very wisely in terms of what art is about. If you're looking for a quick starter, this is not the book. If you are looking for an authoritative guide, I think Spurgeon is the best.
There is hope in honest error.
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Old 11-16-2019, 10:08 AM
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DAK723 DAK723 is offline
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

As mentioned, book stores and libraries have many books on oil painting. I would definitely start there. Four books I would personally recommend are:
The Painterly Approach by Bob Rohm, Capturing Light in Oils by Paul Strisik (probably out of print), Fill Your Oil Paintings with LIght and Color by Kevin MacPherson and Carlson's guide to Landscape Painting by John Carlson.

As the host of a monthly thread on the Pastel forum, I did a "Spotlight" on Carlson's basic methodology a few years back. Here is a link:


In my opinion, in landscapes and seascapes, light and shadow are usually made secondary to keeping the large shapes a similar value. Large shapes with varying color and value are what makes most landscapes work. Within those larger shapes there certainly can be a depiction of light and shadow, but if the value differences are too great, than the painting breaks up into too many separate shapes.

In more general terms, painting light and shadow is no different than painting anything else - so you may not find much about that specifically. Whatever you paint, think in terms of shapes of value and color. The lights may be one such shape of color, the shadow a different shape of color.

But as I mentioned, while still life, portraits and figurative painting may concentrate more on light and shadow, landscapes usually minimize the difference. On a more advanced level, since you mention impressionistic style, many impressionists used more of a change in color rather than a significant change in value to separate light from shadow.

Hope this helps,

Don Ketchek, WC Guide - Pastels

My Blog My Art Gallery My Photo Gallery
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:02 AM
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Zarathustra Zarathustra is online now
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Re: Highlights and shadows?

Here are a few things to consider; it might overwhelm to begin with, but with experience things click into place eventually.

- Consider holding off with your darkest darks, and put a few in at the end as your darkest accents (usually that area deep within the cast shadows).

- Keep your darks transparent and thin (some oil paints have transparent properties). The translucency makes them more convincing. Lights will be built up with more opaque layers of paint

- Shadows have a colour. You need to find a balance on not making them too dark and indistinct or too garish. Usually the shadow areas are cooler in nature, but the warm/cool relationship is something you'll have to hone with experience. Deep shadows are often warm.

- Dark accents attract the eye more than highlights. Don't overstate too many highlights, they can break apart groups and masses and can make a painting distracting. If you can get away with avoiding a highlight, consider doing so. It's not to say some in an area of interest aren't beneficial.

- Highlights are rarely quite as light as you think. They also have a warm/cool relationship and that subtle tinting makes a lot of difference. As the range of colour/light is a bit limited in paint, using a more saturated colour along an edge where light meets shadow, can make an area feel more colourful and full of light than it really is.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:56 AM
Ribera Ribera is offline
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Highlights 'n' Shadows?!!. . .

The highlight is, in fact, a reflection of that lightsource, so, of
course, that tones color need reflect that in itís tone (or color).
And, of course, the shadowís tone likewise a reflection of the
surrounding objects. If itís near an amber cloth, of course,
that canít help but work itís way into the shadow.
Ya do elsewise, that painting wonít appear part that room, but
executed utiliziní da accursed ďpiece-by-pieceĒ approach.
Executed that way, if the pieces copied well, it still could ap-
pear okay, but. . .
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