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Tone and Color Exercise

 

Graduating tones of color

Graduating tones of color

Graduating tones: Before you start painting 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 square grid that you may print to assist your color mixing.

Painting the Landscape - Step 1

 

Start painting with your lightest tone.

Start painting the sky with your lightest tone.

Start painting the sky with your lightest tone and apply it to lowest level of clouds just above the skyline.

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.

 

Painting 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.

 

Painting 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.

 

Painting 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.

Painting 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.

 

 

Painting 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.

 

Painting 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.

Using Different Media

 

You can choose whatever medium you wish to color your landscape. Our lesson demonstrates the effect of using gouache, a flat matt water based paint. Although this is quite an expensive medium, tempera paste or tempera blocks are a good economical alternative to produce a similar effect.

 

Graduating tones of color

Aerial Perspective using Collage

You can alter the expressive qualities of your end result by changing the techniques that you use to create the landscape. For example, instead of painting your image in flat graduated tones, you could create it as a collage with different tones of colored paper.......

 

Aerial Perspective using Charcoal and Chalk

Aerial Perspective using Charcoal and Chalk

.......or you could change your technique to drawing with charcoal and chalk, increasing the detail of your landscape with sharp highlights an softly smudged tones, resulting in a more atmospheric image.......

 

Aerial Perspective using Chalk Pastels

Aerial Perspective using Chalk Pastels

.......or you could change the dramatic impact of the scene by using a wider range of colors to convey different lighting conditions or to set the scene at a particular time of day.

Using different media and colors will result in different finishes and effects and it is a matter of personal choice and experimentation to find out which appeals most to you.