4 Questions About The Light On Your Subject Before You Start Painting



Whether you're painting a tree, face, flower or bird, the light falls on your subject in a certain way; knowing the basics of how light affects an object will help you describe it better in your paintings. Above is an excerpt from a paint along video in the Color Transformation Bootcamp that helps you by asking 4 key questions about color and light before you begin painting.


  1. Which direction is my light source coming from?

  2. What is the temperature of my light source?

  3. How can I make the dark area thinner and more colorful?

  4. How can I make the reflected light as dark as possible, so that it looks believable?



The Highlight is one of the lightest parts of a subject, it receives the greatest amount of light. For a softer look, consider adding a tiny amount of the subjects color to white rather than using white for the highlight, it will look more natural.


Middle Tones, also know as halftones, are halfway in tone between the darks and the lights. They are found in the area where the light transitions around the form and disappears into the shadow areas. They can be quite hazy or gradual; their edges can be very delicate.


The Core Shadow is the dark band visible where light and shadow meet. It’s the darkest area of the shadow on the subject because it is least affected by reflected light.


Reflected light is the light reflected onto an object, from the surface it sits on. White or shiny surfaces reflect the most light, dark or black surfaces reflect the least amount of light. Squint at the reflected light to see its true value, it is always darker than you think.


The Cast Shadow is the object's shadow reflecting on the ground and is often distorted. The cast shadow is darker closer to the object and fades a little as it move away. Look for softer edges the further the shadow get from the object.


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