Today's Featured Artist: Michael Godard

Transform your photos into one-of-a-kind, hand painted masterpieces!

Return to Main Discussion Page


Main Menu | Search Discussions

Search Discussions


Jose Bernal

4 Years Ago

How To Paint Shadows ???????

The way a shadow is painted can make or ruin a painting. from the main subject of the painting, but need to be considered as seriously,always as been a problem painting shadows, let see the shadow on a yellow object. If you mix black and yellow, you get an unattractive olive green. Instead of using this for the shadow,you should use a clomplementary color llike deep i wonder how you do it??????

Reply Order

Post Reply

Shawn Dall

4 Years Ago

I go down the colour wheel.. so I might use either orange or green, and then red or blue.

take for example the cape in this drawing I did:

Photography Prints

it is orange.. but for shadows I used red and then purple. When I colour I start with the middle colour.. then I lighten up one side and darken the other, and then blend inbetween on both sides.

orrr you can always do the biggest nono in art and use black :P


J L Meadows

4 Years Ago

All I can tell you, dude, is to try to keep the shadows transparent, and be aware of the light and color around them.


Janine Riley

4 Years Ago

Your shadow should be "cool" , not warm . I use a complimentary color, but be careful not to "muddy" your original shade.
Like JL says, shadows are not opaque, & can have other colors dancing in them.

It all depends on your style & what you want to achieve, it's good to know the rules - & then break them at will.


Alfred Ng

4 Years Ago

yes, shadow should be transparent and not over power the over all painting use reflected color from what is around it

Sell Art Online


Anne Norskog

4 Years Ago

Good evening Jose! Please see how I handled the shadows in this lighthouse painting. Remember where you are focusing your light source. The sun shining over your right shoulder will throw shadows to your left, for instance. To achieve the illusion of shadows in paintings, use deeper shades of the same colors...nothing turns black...every color becomes a deeper, richer shade of itself. Red will have a deep wine colored shadow; light blue will have a dark blue shadow; green will become a more somber shade of green--light green-dark green, medium green-a darker heavier color of forth and so on. Do not forget to shadow the small items in a painting, too: everything has a lighter side and a darker side to make it have weight or mass...otherwise everything is just colored like a child would color witih a box of crayons.

Sell Art Online


Roy Erickson

4 Years Ago

Shadows - all depends on the subject and where the painting is of. Out in the brilliant sunlight of the desert - shadows are nearly black - always dark.

Once upon a time - I went to a watercolor workshop to "learn" how to paint shadows in the desert - The artist was good at his art - he wasn't a very good teacher.


Gregory Scott

4 Years Ago

Shadows depend on the color of the light, usually reflected, from nearby objects. For example, Shadows in the woods tend to be green. Shadows in open sky are often tinged with blue and/or the color of the ground. Shadows in a room are tinted with light from nearby objects in the room.


Study Rembrandt


Georgiana Romanovna

4 Years Ago

Cool shadows, never warm, and as thin a paint as possible - use complimentary colors but greyed down - shadows should not be noticed.

^Agree with Vivian :)


Ken Krug

4 Years Ago

Shadows can be a complex subject. I donít make statements on certain subjects as absolutes, usually.
Whatever you say on a given topic, someone else will have an opposing view, including the painting of shadows,
whether in the use of black here, or in the use of black in general, or as to whether to paint in this case shadows, thinly or thickly.
Say you canít or shouldnít do something, and someone somewhere will be doing it. A well known, successful painter,
Ken Auster, says he uses warm shadows, admittedly against the going thoughts and advice.
One theory states, cool light, warm shadows. Warm light, cool shadows. Your eye wants to see the opposite.
Sunlight is a slightly blue, cool color. The human eye perceives it as clear and neutral.
Iíve used warm and cool shadows, Iím experimenting with this. It depends on your painting. Every idea for a properly
painted shadow has an opposing view, other than that it should be darker, of course, than the lit side.



4 Years Ago

Pick the light source; pick the object, follow a ray from the source; where the ray does not strike the object, the ground will receive the light; the rest is shadow...peace


David Larsen

4 Years Ago

There are some basic rules with shadows. First, you have to look at temperature. If the light source is warm, like an incandescent bulb or direct sunlight, the shadows tend to be cool. If the light source is cool, like North light, shadows tend to be warm.

The second thing to understand about shadows is there are two types, core shadows and cast shadows. Core shadows have soft edges where the shadow breaks on a curved surface. Cast shadows, on the other hand, have hard edges where one object blocks the light, projecting a shadow on another surface. One thing to note is that a long cast shadow tends to become lighter toward the end.

Third, in shadow there tends to be about three values, the lighter value where the core shadow breaks, the middle value, and the darkest darks.

Finally, the hardest part of handling a shadow dealing with reflective light. Sometimes, light bounces onto surfaces in shadow, giving just a hint of light. However, a common mistake is to make the reflective light too light. If made too light, then it will break the sense of light and shadow in the piece, and the painting will break down. It is better to err on too little than too much reflective light. I had an instructor tell me to make it so that it is almost not there.

For me, when I paint portraits and still lifes, I tend to use a warm transparent pigments for my shadows, like transparent oxide brown, though burnt umber would work in a pinch. Sometimes, I cut that with a little ultramarine blue, so that it is not crazy warm. (Take a look at Rembrandt, or Sargent). For landscapes, and paintings outside, I tend to use cool opaque pigments, like ultramarine blue, mixed with a little alizarin crimson, mixed with just a touch of titanium white to make it opaque. Sometimes Payne's grey will work too, though I generally like more intense color.

That is it for the Dave method of handling shadows.

Take a look below. The portrait is an example of warm shadows. The cityscape is an example of cool shadows.

Photography Prints
Sell Art Online

Here is a more complex example. This one has two lights sources, cool North light coming from the left, and warm incandescent light coming from the right.

Photography Prints


This discussion is closed.

Browse Through Millions of Images from the World's Greatest Artists and Photographers

THE DHARMA BUMS - Jazzberry Blue

The Dharma Bums

Jazzberry Blue

Campervan - Martin Newman


Martin Newman

Galeria - Corsica - Joana Kruse

Galeria - Corsica

Joana Kruse

John Lennon Triptych - Paul Lovering

John Lennon Triptych

Paul Lovering

Push Comes to Shove - Mike Dawson

Push Comes To Shove

Mike Dawson

Edward Abbey by the Colorado River - The Harrington Collection

Edward Abbey By The Colorado River

The Harrington Collection