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Tone and Color Exercise

 

Graduating tones of color

Graduating tones of color

Graduating tones: Before you start coloring your landscape, you should practice mixing some scales of graduating tones as in our illustration above. These are colors with equal shifts of tone from dark to light which help to generate the illusion of spatial depth and distance. Click here or on the image for a 6x6 square grid that you may print to assist your color mixing.

Choice of media: You can choose whatever medium you wish to color your landscape. Many schools use tempera paste or tempera blocks because they are both effective and economical. However, you could also use watercolor, gouache (a flat matt watercolor), charcoal and chalk, pastels, color pencils, collage or possibly a combination of media.

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 1

 

Start painting with your lightest tone.

Start painting with your lightest tone.

Start painting with your lightest tone and apply it to the most distant area of sky between the architectural skyline and the lowest layer of clouds.

Note: When you draw your landscape you work from the front towards the back. When you paint your landscape you should reverse this process and work from the back towards the front, applying your lightest tones first. There are a couple of reasons why you do this:

  • It is far easier to darken a color than it is to lighten it as you use much less paint to do so. Consequently, it is best to start with your lightest tones and proceed towards the darkest.
  • If you start with your lightest tones it also makes it easier to cover any slip ups in your painting technique as you will be applying your darker tones over them, particularly if you are using water soluble paint.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 2

 

Paint the distant architectural skyline.

Paint the distant architectural skyline.

Using a slightly darker tone, paint the most distant layer of the three architectural skylines.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 3

 

Paint the middle architectural skyline.

Paint the middle architectural skyline.

Darkening the tone further, paint the middle layer of the three architectural skylines.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 4

 

Paint the closest architectural skyline.

Paint the closest architectural skyline.

Using your darkest tone, paint the lowest and closest layer of the three architectural skylines.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 5

 

Paint the lowest layer of clouds

Paint the lowest layer of clouds

The sky is generally brighter than the landscape as it is the main source of light in the picture. Therefore, the range of graduating tones used for the sky should be lighter than those used for the landscape.

Note: each layer of clouds also includes a plume of smoke which should inherit the color of its layer.

Paint the lowest layer of clouds first making sure that it is slightly lighter in tone than the most distant skyline.

 

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 6

 

Paint the middle layer of clouds

Paint the middle layer of clouds

Paint the middle layer of clouds next making sure that it is slightly lighter in tone than the middle layer of skylines.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 7

 

Paint the top layer of clouds

Paint the top layer of clouds

Paint the top layer of clouds making sure that it is slightly lighter in tone than the lowest layer of skylines.

 

The Tones of the Landscape - Step 8

 

Paint in the birds to complete the image

Paint in the birds to complete the image

Finally, paint in the birds to complete the image taking care to use graduating tones, the darkest for the nearest birds proceeding to the lightest for the furthest away.

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