Lesson 19: Your first resolved painting from start to finish!

Oil Painting Step by Step

In this painting tutorial I go through a common step by step procedure on how to paint with oils. From the drawing, to the underpainting, glazing, and final details.

Step 1: Find your source imagery and prepare it for painting. This could include photoshopping various elements in photoshop, collaging images from magazines, taking your own photos to paint from, etc.Then create a grid on your source imagery. This can be done in photoshop, or you can print the photo out and grid it out with a ruler and pen.

Step 2: Create a grid on your canvas which matches the size of your prepared imagery (ratios are ok, so for instance an image which is 5 x 10 could be scaled to a canvas which is 20 x 40 etc.) Mark each line on the grid with a series of numbers and letters so it is easy to find which square you are looking at and how it relates to the image you are painting from.

Step 3: Draw your imagery onto the canvas using a pencil using your grid lines as a guide to help you. If you are wondering why we use a grid, the answer is that it is much easier to manage smaller squares as opposed to larger ones. It also forces you to abide by the predetermined composition you initially created, so basically, it helps you make sure you can fit everything you want to on the canvas.

Step 4: Find large value shapes. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. For this step it is helpful to have a black and white version of the source material from which you are painting. If you have photoshop just take out all of the saturation of the color, if you don't, then make a black and white photocopy of the image.

Step 5: Paint the large value shapes with the values they correspond to in black and white.(You can use Acrylic paint for this as it dries faster).

Step 6: Once you've completed your value study of the painting you are ready for color. Mix the colors you wish to apply to the canvas on your palette (Never mix on your canvas). You can use either opaque colors which will totally cover the value study, or you can use transparent colors and use the value study to help make your shadows.

Step 7: Paint in the colors you wish to use, and use the value study to see how closely the value of the color relates to the value of the value study. If this is hard for you to see, then just squint you eyes until the color turns into a black or white shade.

Step 8: Make final adjustments and put in details.