Painting Shadows

by Claude

I have often been asked "how do I mix and paint a shadow?" I just thought I'd share it here for those who might be having a problem with it. Before you just reach for the Paynes gray or black and white, maybe consider this. It's a time tested method used by artists for hundreds of years.


There are basically 2 types of shadows. Object shadows and Cast shadows. This method will help you to create a shadow for each.

Take a standard color wheel. Every art store should have one if you need one.
Now look at the color of the object in your painting that you want to create a shadow for. (Try to get it as close as you can by eye) Match it to the color closest to it on the color wheel.
Now, Look directly across the wheel(180 degrees) at the "complimentary" color to the one you are using.

Mix or find that complimentary color and add just a speck of it to your objects color on the palate. You will notice that a slightly darker value of your color appears. You can adjust the value by adding more.

This works well when you want to shade something without adding gray or graying the object. It takes a little practice but it isn't difficult. You can mix it on the palate or even scumble it in on the canvas and adjust it as you go to create an increasingly darker shadow value. Hope it has helped some.

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Jul 06, 2012
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Painting Shadows
by: Anonymous

Would you also do the same when painting the different tones in folds when painting fabric? As you can see, I am a beginner.

May 22, 2010
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Painting Shadows
by: Anonymous

Nice tip! Thank you, I'll try this next time I do shadows! The lavender color has to do with the way light reflects on other colored surfaces and the way certain colors are not reflected (the color that we see). It also has to do with the color or source of the light creating the shadow. Light color theory and paint (or pigment) color theory are slightly different. Shadows on dirt may not always be lavender if the dirt is not dark brown, but say maybe reddish in color.

Dec 19, 2009
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shadows
by: allen

clever idear

Oct 20, 2009
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Shadows
by: Preston Smith

Complimetary colours are the way to go when creating any shade or shadow on an object or cast away from the object.

I've use the technique with colour pencils, as well. They don't mix, sure, but if used properly and with a darker colour (ie, Brown or Dark Blue) the effects are surprising.

I would suggest trying it on different mediums and with different coloured backgrounds as that can affect your shades, shadows, and highlights.

When 'throwing' your shadow. A cast of ambient light may affect the 'colour' of a shadow the same way a red light would. Of course, that's assuming the light is coloured. Like anything with colour shades and shadows can also be warm and cold.

I must admit, with the many techniques and tricks available, there is no 1 perfect way to create your shade.

Jul 02, 2008
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Shadows
by: Anonymous

This is really good for me as I have a lot of difficulty with shadows. Thanks for the tip.
marilyn

Jul 02, 2008
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Shadows
by: BettyR

Great advice Claude, I will try it.
Thanks,
Betty

Jul 02, 2008
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Painting shadows
by: Claude

Hi Joyce
Yes this will work for any painting medium. It is color theory and the medium doesn't matter. The only place I think it might be a problem is with color pencil since it is hard to mix them.
Claude

Jul 02, 2008
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Great
by: June

Will definately try this Claude. Thanks

Jul 02, 2008
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Painting Shadows
by: Joyce

Thanks Claude for that tip on painting shadows I suppose tht applys to all mediums you are using?
Cheers Joyce.

Jan 20, 2009
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Teacher Teaches Lavendars
by: Anonymous

I have a problem with the shadows. I took a class once and stopped after I was in disbelief when the teacher taught that shadows on dirt are lavendar. I have a great difficulty getting past this. And anyone that can give more insight to help me get past this. Please do.

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