How to identify highlighting and shading techniques in By:

How to identify highlighting and shading techniques in
period and how to use them in your own work.
Thomas Paumer
[email protected]
Blending: Fusing two color planes together so no discernable sharp
divisions are apparent.
Blotting: using an absorbent material such as tissues or paper towels,
or a squeezed out brush, to pick up and lighten a wet or damp wash.
Can be used to lighten large areas or pick out fine details.
Body Color: The mixing of opaque white gouache with transparent
watercolor; or gouache colors in general.
Chroma: The purity or degree of saturation of a color; relative absence
of white or gray in a color.
Cross-hatching: Using fine overlapping planes of parallel lines of
color or pencil to achieve texture or shading. Used in traditional egg
tempera technique; drawing in pencil, chalk, pen and ink; and
engraving, etching, and other printmaking techniques.
Gesso: Ground plaster, chalk or marble mixed with glue or acrylic
medium, generally white. It provides an absorbent ground for oil,
acrylic, and tempera painting
Gouache: 1) Watercolor painting technique using white and opaque
colors. 2) A water-based paint, much like transparent watercolor but
made in opaque form. Traditionally used in illustration.
Graded Wash: A wash that smoothly changes in value from dark to
light. Most noted in landscape painting for open sky work, but an
essential skill for watercolor painting in general.
Gum Arabic: Gum arabic is produced from the sap of the African
acacia tree and is available in crystalline form or an already prepared
solution. It binds watercolor pigments when used with water and
glycerine or honey.
Masking fluid: A latex gum product that is used to cover a surface you
wish to protect from receiving paint. Miskit by Grumbacher and Art
masking fluid by Winsor & Newton are two such products. Also
referred to as liquid frisket.
Opaque: A paint that is not transparent by nature or intentionally. A
dense paint that obscures or totally hides the underpainting in any
given artwork.
Trompe l'oeil: A term meaning "Fool the eye" in French. It involves
rendering a subject with such detail and attention to lighting and
perspective that the finished piece appears real and three-dimensional.
Underpainting: The first, thin transparent laying in of color in a
Variegated Wash: A wet wash created by blending a variety of
discrete colors so that each color retains it's character while also
blending uniquely with the other colors in the wash.
Wash: A transparent layer of diluted color that is brushed on.
Watercolor: Painting in pigments suspended in water and a binder
such as gum arabic. Traditionally used in a light to dark manner, using
the white of the paper to determine values.
Glazing: A ‘glaze’ however refers to the application of a transparent
color applied over a dried area to adjust the hue, intensity, or value and
color temperature. In watercolor painting, artists layer thin transparent
glazes and washes until they achieve the depth or saturation of color
they desire. Acrylic and oil painters will also use or layer transparent
‘glazes’. It is very important to understand that layering is simply
placing one layer of color over another, while ‘glazing’ is ALWAYS a
transparent application.
Layering : Layering is also a gradual buildup of light and /or dark
values and requires several applications before the desired result is
achieved. Usually the first application of color will cover the largest
area; each subsequent application of color should be smaller staying
within the perimeter of the first color. Think of a pyramid, each
application is smaller than the previous.
Royal 17 D III f. 7v Edward VI receiving the book
Author: William Forrest
Title: The pleasaunt poesye of princelie practise, imperfect
Origin: England, S (Bledlow or Oxford)
Date: 1548
This is a very typical example of cross hatching. It is common, and most
recognized, as the shading method in woodcuts, etchings, and ink drawings. The
same method that is used to give depth to the medieval art piece in black and
white, can be used in color to give similar affects. (see below)
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département
des Manuscrits, Français 598, fol. 13r.
This is a non-typical, color example of crosshatching in a medieval manuscript. If you look
the brush strokes in the floor create a pattern of
density and shade without actually adding density
or shade. You can also see how effective hatch
work shading can be by looking at the woman’s
waist line and draping fabric. The entire effect
was created in hatch work.
Title: Lancelot du Lac
Origin: France, N. (SaintOmer or Tournai)
Date: c. 1316
Language: French
Script: Gothic
MS: Additional 10293 f57
Medieval use of
underpainting, graded
wash, and variegated
Detailed record for Additional 11657
Title: Former and Latter Prophets (Neviim)
Origin: Italy
Date: 14th century
Language: Hebrew
This is a period example of layering and white work.
How to identify and replicate hatching/ cross hatching
Warning: the act of doing hatch work is extremely intuitive and subjective… I
can only show the basics of how it is done. Each person will pick up on it at
different levels and speeds. Please bare with me as I try to explain it the best I
Luckily for us, hatching is the easiest shading technique to identify from a
period source. Essentially, it is lines at varying spaces to create shape and
form. That being said, it is easiest to identify with wood cuts (see below) and
Looking at the image above, it is modern cross hatching techniques. Some of these can
be replicated, but it is more important to show the types of shading and manipulation
that can be done with lines.
Hatching work can be done with an ink pen, quill, or paint brush. The color you use does
not have to be black. (In fact some times it looks best not using black… I’ve gotten great
results from brown.)
This is probably the least used medieval shading technique.
How to identify and replicate wash work painting
Wash work painting is probably the most used form of medieval highlighting
and shading. It is possible to use with glaire or other non-rehydrateable
paints, but extremely difficult (as you cannot blend the lines.)
The way to properly identify wash work is to look at the changes in the hue of the
paint. While wash work directly changes the saturation of the color, it will not
effect the hue. Finding these subtitle differences is important to determining the
technique used, but it will become easier the more practice that you have with
painting in this style.
Please note, the “Lancelot du Lac” painting posted before and the “Christ
Disputing with the Merchants” (right) are the same style of painting technique. Da
Verona’s painting took meticulous effort to blend lines to create a smooth
transition between the shades, while “Lancelot du Lac” is far more abrupt. Both
styles are made by this method.
Wash work painting works by changing the saturation/ intensity of your colors in a
structured manner to create the effect of highlighting and shading. Now, that
sounds rather wordy and academic… Everyone notices that the more water that
you add to your paints, the thinner and less opaque your paints become. What this
process seeks to do is use varying levels of more and more opaque paint in order to
create the look of shading.
Title Cutting from an Antiphoner
Origin: Italy, N. (Lombardy)
Date: c. 1430 - c. 1435
Artists: Stefano da Verona (active in Lombardy c. 1375 - c. 1438)
To the left are pictures that I took from Master RanthulfR AsparlundR,
KSA ‘s website. It shows a two step process in order to create the Trompe
l'oeil effect.
If you look at the top picture very closely, you can see at least 4 layers of
different saturations of paint.
The steps to create this effect are:
1. Prepare your supplies. You will need: Paint, extra paint wells, brush,
and a paper towel or 3.
2. Determine the point in which the light will hit the object and how you
want you shading to look.
3. Mix and hydrate your paint in one paint well (we will call this paint
well A) and place a small amount of water in another paint well (we
will call this paint well B.)
4. Move a small amount of paint from paint well A into paint well B.
This will make paint well B a very light wash.
5. Use the wash in paint well B to lightly paint the object.
6. Wait for the paint to dry. If you find that your wash is too powerful or
saturated, slowly use your paper towel to blot away and remove excess
7. Once your underwash is completely dry, add more paint from paint well
A into paint well B, making it a more saturated wash. Use this more
saturated wash to paint the next ring of paint in your object.
8. Repeat steps 4-7 until you have a series of saturated washes to give the
full effect that you desire.
9. At this point, you blend the lines between your shades of paint. To do
this, lightly dampen your brush and lightly run them over the lines.
This will create a nice, smooth transition in your paint.
A photo from Master RanthulfR AsparlundR, KSA website on painting
with this technique.
How to identify and replicate layered painting
Additional 35254B
Title Leaf of a Hymnal , containing part of the hymn to Michael.
Origin Italy, Central (Florence)
Date c. 1340
The illumination to the right uses a strong mix of layered and
washed painting. You can tell the layered painting because the
artist uses another color of paint to highlight or shade, and then
blends it into the painting. This changes the hue of the paint from
the base paint.
You can tell the difference between wash work painting and
layered work painting because layered work painting uses multiple
colors and change the hue of the paint. If you look at the Dragon
in the illumination on the right, you can clearly see the shading
(and form) created by adding green to the yellow dragon. Looking
at the mountain on the bottom left of the illumination on the right,
you can see clear swatches of white added to the paint. You can
also se plenty of white highlighting in the border.
There are things to consider when doing layered painting
1. It only works for paints that rehydrate. If you are painting with
glaire or tempera, you will be unable to blend the colors.
2. If working with period or natural pigments, always research
your pigments for interactions.
3. Remember your color wheel. If you are painting with blue and
want to highlight something with yellow, it will turn green.
Since layered work changes the hue of the paints, the most common
use I have found is using a white to highlight a color or using a
separate pigment to shade. I have also seen some layering work well
with shading with blacks and browns. The process taken to create
layered paintings is fairly simple.
1. Paint the base layer (this is similar to an underpainting but is
usually more opaque.)
2. Let the paint dry .
3. Charge your brush with just enough water that you would use for
blending, and slowly wet down the areas of your base coat that
you want layered.
4. Charge your brush with the highlighting color and paint it to the
watered area of your basecoat. This should allow your highlight
color to mix with your base color on the paper.
5. If you find that it is not rehydrating and creating these highlights
and shades that you desire (or it is creating more of a feeling of
white work.) Allow the highlighting paint to dry a little bit and
then charge your brush with a little bit of water and blend the
highlight into the painting. Allowing it to dry a little bit before
blending will allow you to have an even blend. If you do not
have the time to allow it to dry before blending, make sure that
you can get the even coat that you desire.
Bonus: The highlighting effect with white work (pictured right) was
created in a 3 step system. Step one was the basecoat in
vermillion. Step 2 was to highlight and blend with white
(probably lead white.) Step 3, is once the paint and the highlight
was completely dry, they painted the white work over. This is a
common theme when painting with layered painting.
Yates Thompson 12, 40v
Author William of Tyre
Title Histoire d'Outremer, continued to 1232
Origin France, N. (Picardy?)
Date between 1232 and 1261
Language French