Basic Acrylic Painting – Adding Shadows and Highlights

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 62,385
    Painter Mary Gallagher-Stout demonstrates how to add shadows and highlights to your basic acrylic painting.

    Mary Gallagher Stout: Hi! I am Mary Gallagher Stout. Today, we are here at the Lorton Workhouse, in my studio, creating a stony lion. Now we are at the point where we are going to be putting in our shadows. So I usually work from dark to light, so thats why we are doing our shadows first. You can do it either way but this is the way I do it. So lets get started.

    For my darkest color, I am going to use a mixture of Jenkins green and a very deep purple. I dont like to use black because it tends to die on the canvas, it just lays flat and it doesnt bring anything to our palette. So thats why I dont use it. You are more than welcome to use black but I dont. So thats the mixture we are using, its a 50/50 blend of Jenkins green and deep purple.

    So I am going to go in and where I see all the darks thats where I am going to put my dark. So like his nose, filling his nose. His nose is very dark, so I am filling in his nose. Thats where all your sketch information comes in because if you didnt keep your information there, you wouldnt have it to create your dimension and detail of all these geometry of -- you need it to help develop the geometry so it actually looks like a lion. Now if you are very unhappy with the way you sketch, its really not a problem because all you need to do is know how to trace things. What you can do is you can purchase a projector and project your image right on to the wall and simply trace it on your paper that you want it on. So you dont even really need to sketch, but I would suggest when you are doing something with stone that you should pick a subject that might be in stone, like a gargoyle or a Greek goddess or something architectural. So I am just going to fill in all of my darks.

    So I have finished putting in all of the shadows of the dark tones. Now we are going to go ahead and put in all the highlights. Dont be afraid if it looks funny to you having the white next to the dark because when you stand back, it makes a huge difference and it makes the thing, you can see the recesses and things at that point. So here we are now getting ready to put our highlights in and I am using titanium white and we are going to put that right where the highlights need to go.

    Then you can see the pieces really jumping out, once the highlights are put in. Make his big ferocious teeth, they become a lot more ferocious once the highlights are put in. Dont be afraid to make a mistake because mistakes are usually where inspiration comes from. We are doing something new and interesting. So I am going to highlight his teeth. Anything that you felt like you lost, you can put a little highlight on. The idea of the highlights is to show that something is in front and to give the viewer a direction of where the light is coming from. So you need to have an orientation as to where the light is coming from and you need to be consistent with that.

    Now we have finished all the highlights and low lights. We have our very ferocious lion giving a big, big yawn. All we have left to do is an over glaze to kind of blend everything together and make it a cohesive one piece.