SHINING A COLOR: 3 TECHNIQUES (Acrylic paint / Tutorial)

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Here, I explain the various techniques for lightening a color, or rather, I should say, adding light. Before

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: Lighten by adding white

This is what seems most intuitive when you want to lighten a shade. Lightening by adding white to a color works, but tends to dull the result. The result will lose its chromatic intensity, and the color will be blander, more pastel.

However, I find it works very well with cool colors.

Cool colors in painting

Here, for example, I take a cyan (primary color) and gradually add small quantities of white paint.

No.2: Lighten with chromatic shift

To lighten a color with a color shift, we take a color wheel. If we put this chromatic circle in black and white (playing with saturation), we see that our hues have different values. As a reminder, the value is the degree of brightness (very bright to very dark/dark).

So it’s easy to understand that we can help ourselves with the brighter (lighter) shades. But be careful: only use a color that is chromatically close to the color you wish to lighten.

Here, for example, I want to lighten my orange, so I’ll add a little yellow. The yellow is brighter than my orange, and chromatically speaking, as can be seen here in the circle, they’re neighbors.

So it’s a very good solution for lightening my color without dulling it or making a “big chromatic splash”.

Be careful, however, not to put too much of your adjacent color into your mix so as not to spread yourself too thinly.

How to lighten an orange or red
How to lighten an orange or red
how to lighten a color
Be careful, however, not to put too much of your adjacent color into your mix so as not to spread yourself too thinly.

n°3: Lighten with a glaze/optical blend

If I add a thinning agent to an acrylic paint, we lose opacity and therefore gain transparency. This transparency is used to create optical blends: this is called glazing.

We can use this technique to lighten our shade.

As you know, acrylics can be glazed with water or a specific medium. Frankly, as I’ve shown you many times, water works just fine, and there’s no need to invest in any kind of medium.

Lighten paint/color by adding water
Lighten paint/color by adding water

In the example above, I’m only adding water to my paint. As with the technique of adding white, my painting gradually loses its intensity.

Conclusion: The best method?

There’s no better way! The most important thing is to juggle these different techniques to achieve the result you want.

The problem is that many people don’t know how to use their colors properly: it’s imperative to favor the chromatic context in which your paint will be used. Here, for example, take a look at the difference in intensity of my yellow depending on the background used:

The importance of the chromatic context: we need to learn how to use colors correctly in relation to each other.

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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