COLORING: 3 TECHNIQUES (Acrylic paint / Tutorial)

With acrylic paints, we tend to believe that simply adding black to the paint will darken it. And that’s a mistake. As we shall see, black can be added, but only under certain conditions.

Here we’ll look at three ways to darken your acrylic paint while maintaining a superb rendering and vibrant colors!

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The importance of values in painting

To understand how to darken your paint with the best of methods, you need to understand how values work in painting.

Value is the degree of brightness of a tone. To put it simply: depending on the light, your color is darker or lighter. Don’t mix with saturation, which corresponds to the intensity of your color.

To learn more about values and how to master colors for your paintings, I highly recommend: 50 nuances d’abstrait.

In practical terms, when we say a paint is “light” or “dark”, we’re simply talking about its value.
To understand value, it’s useful to use a value scale.

Excerpt from 50 shades of abstract

N°1: Darken a color by adding black

Yes, I know, as I said above. Darkening a color with black is not the most appropriate choice. And yet it works in some cases. For example, with cool colors. However, with warm colors, this will have the effect of “dirtying” your colors.

Warm and cool colors on a color wheel
Warm and cool colors on a color wheel

Here, for example, I add black to my cool colors. We can see that the result works well.

Darken a paint color by adding black
Darken a color in paint

N°2 Darken a color by adding its complement

This is the most academic method. It consists in darkening the tint of a paint by adding its complementary color. To do this, use a color wheel and pick the color opposite yours to obtain the complementary color. Use a very small amount of this complementary color and blend. Be careful, there’s a breaking point you mustn’t reach, or your mix will veer towards your complement.

Painting with the complementary method, the academic method
Painting with the complementary method, the academic method

No.3: Darken a color with a chromatic shift

Darken a color with a chromatic shift
Darken a color with a chromatic shift

I love this technique and use it very often. It consists in darkening by using an adjacent color that is darker on the color wheel. For example, here, if I want to darken my yellow, I’ll use a little orange, and to darken my orange, I can use red. In this way, you can effectively darken your shade without straying too far chromatically speaking.

Bonus: Combinations

Last but not least, the secret of beautiful blends lies in your ability to analyze the context of your painting and combine the different methods. For example, I sometimes go dark with a complementary color and then add black to broaden my scale of values:

Darken a color in two steps
Darken a color in two steps

Pack offert : Techniques, matériel & guide

Pour vous lancer dans la peinture abstraite dans de bonnes conditions, je vous offre ce pack comprenant mon guide du matériel, un cours de peinture abstraite et une avalanche de conseils !

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