Lesson 1 – 3D Shading

I’ve started following an oil painting course, although I’m using gouache paints for my medium rather than actual oil paints as I’m able to manage those with my health being as it is.  The course is “The Oil Painting Course You’ve Always Wanted” by Kathleen Lochen Staiger

The first lesson is about shading three-dimensional objects.  I did some experimenting yesterday to look in deatil at the reflected light that appears on the darker side of objects.  I found that the situation in the real world with this light is much more complex than the theory, but that the theory works in general lighting conditions we see quite regularly.

So today I’m going to paint three 3D objects using the theory.

The idea is to paint the following for each object:

  • highlights
  • light areas,
  • mid-tone areas,
  • core areas (these are the darkest darks)
  • reflected light areas where surrounding surfaces reflect light into otherwise darker areas.

So I decided to paint a sphere, a hollow cylinder and a cube.

Here’s how it went:








And here is my final labelled exercise sheet:



In the book you are asked to draw these shapes and shade them in in pencil.  The drawings also include drawing the surface the shape is sitting on and the cast shadow.  However, I wanted to practice doing this in paint and I know that the author of this book has a  section on how to colour cast shadows later on, so I’m going to do that bit when I come to it.

I did find while shading each obejct that I had a tendency to sit there and keep working on it until it was perfectly graded and smooth between the different light areas.  However because this was an exercise I curbed this tendency and did enough to give the illusion of the shape without perfecting it.  This saved me some time and, I find now, looking at the less than perfect gradations of colour which I painted that I am inspired to get it better in my next painting.  The wonderful power of errors to teach!


7 thoughts on “Lesson 1 – 3D Shading

  1. Fantastic. This semester at uni we are doing oil painting. I am one more comfortable to oil pastel or acrylic paint but I am enjoying oils immensely.
    Our first exercise was to do a still life with light source using just raw umber and titanium white. The idea was to distinguish the tonal values of each colour and be able to reproduce those on a limited pallette. I enjoyed this exercise. Our next was to do the 100 colour painting. We had 4 main colours and white and had to mix 100 different colours using this limited pallette.
    It’s great to experiment. Enjoy your journey with oils.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Because gouache paint is easily reactivated by water I just used a damp brush to smooth each tone into the next. Another method would have been to cover the whole sphere (except the highlight) in one colour – perhaps the pink – and then add darker layers but the gouache let me do it a bit differently. I’ve not used this method before so it was a bit of an experiment. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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