painting excercise

Color and Form

Color and Form

In this exercise the colored toys provide bright simple forms to practice mixing three values of colors. When you see a colored object you are seeing many values of that color. Because the first step is always simplification, we reduce the values to three, a light, middle and a dark. When these are blended many values are made. Of the three values the middle value is usually the closest to the actual color of the object. The dark is usually the middle value color with its COMPLEMENT added. The light value is the middle value color plus the color of the light, usually white. Highlights, the bright spots of light, are distorted or blurred pictures of the light source.

All forms begin as three values. Shiny forms will also have a highlight.

The dark value will usually have the complement of the middle value added.

Lay out your colors on your palette in this order. On the edge farthest from you, put your white on the left. As a right-handed painter you will have to reach the farthest to get to the white thus reducing the degree of contamination from neighboring colors. Next is cadmium yellow light, then cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium scarlet, cadmium red, Quinacridone rose, dioxazine violet, French ultramarine blue, thalo blue, thalo green, cadmium green and cadmium green pale. Black may also be added but is so rarely used it is put out only as needed.

If you are using the minimum palette of colors, lay them out as white, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, cadmium red, Quinacridone rose, dioxazine violet, ultramarine blue and cadmium green. The intermediate colors such as yellow-orange or blue-violet will have to be mixed when needed.

With these things in mind we will paint these toys.

The drawing is made with white paint that has been thinned down.

Starting with the teapot put in the light value first. The blue is a mixture of French ultramarine and thalo blue. For the light we just add white.

Next we put in the dark. The dark is the middle value blue with the addition of blue’s complement, orange. A deep dark is needed so no white is used. In all cases a color’s complement is added to the shadowed part of the object.

The middle value is the true color of the object.

The values are blended with parallel strokes and the illusion of form is created.

Next are the yellows. Three values of yellow are created. The spectrum color is pure yellow. The middle value is Cadmium yellow light with a little white. The light value is the middle value with more white added. Shadows always contain the complement of a color thus the dark is Cadmium yellow pale plus its complement Dioxazine violet. The light value is placed around the highlight. The highlight is a distorted picture of the light source as it is on all shiny objects.

The dark is next. The sequence of light, dark and middle is used. Light is used first to minimize contamination from the wet paint. Dark is next because it is easy to see. The middle value is last and unifies the form.

If an area it is not light or dark it has to be the middle value.

Parallel and curved brush strokes are used for the blends.

Red-red-violet is the spectrum color for the monkey. White is added for the middle value.

More white is added for the light value. The shadow color is the red-red-violet plus its complement yellow-green.

The dark value is placed.

The middle value fills in everything else and is blended.

The colors for the bell lyre are violet-blue-violet with a trace of its complement, yellow, plus white. The mixture is already dark so white is added for the middle value. More white is added for the light value.

The penguin’s feet are orange-yellow-orange with a trace of blue. White is added for the light value. More blue is added to the middle value to make the dark value.

The black for the penguin is actually blue with orange added. Additional white is added for the penguin’s belly values and for the teapot’s top and bottom.

The values are blended.

The background values are placed. Three values of white with yellow and violet will create the flat receding surface of the floor. One value of white with more violet and yellow added creates the back wall that is parallel to the canvas.

The values are blended.

Last the cast shadow values are placed. The color of a cast shadow is the complement of the color of the light. The orange (with some blue) cast shadows indicate a cold light.

The blends finish the painting.

So now you have learned to mix your colors. You know how to create shadow colors and highlight colors and all the transitions in between.

The Credits Of This Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin’s



Basic Forms

Basic Forms

For more instructional videos visit Bill Martin’s YouTube Channel

To use these exercises duplicate the various stages of the painting on a canvas of your own. If you choose to paint your own subjects pick ones similar to those here. For this one you could paint your own black and white subject or print out the source photo and paint from that. Follow the steps. Try out the brush strokes.

Basic Forms

You will learn how to paint the five basic forms, the cone, cylinder, sphere, cube and torus. These forms are the foundation of all the objects you see. To be able to paint these then is to be able to paint anything.

All forms begin with shapes of light, middle and dark values. Each value shape is unique to its form: parallel stripes on cylinders, triangles on cones, gradual blends on the faces of a cube, crescents and ovals on a sphere and crescents and stripes on a torus.

Each form uses different brush strokes. Triangular strokes on cones, crescent strokes on sphere and torus, curved strokes for sphere, torus and circular blends. Parallel strokes make cylinders and the faces of a cube.

With these things in mind we paint this subject. The only colors are black and white.


How much paint do you put out on your palette?

You need to mix enough paint to cover the area of canvas you want to paint. The one inch mixture above brushed out to a four inch square. I always mix twice as much of a color as I think I’ll use. It is far better to have some paint left over than to run out. You’ll want more of a mixed color because it’s unique than you will of one from the tube.

Mix up several values of gray on your palette.

The drawing is made with Titanium White with the addition of thinner to make it flow easily and dry quickly. Note the internal guidelines in the cone and cylinder.

Starting with the lightest mixed value, the value shapes are painted in. Use triangular brush strokes for the cone, parallel brush strokes for the cylinder and cube, crescent strokes for the torus and curved strokes on the sphere.

Place the darkest of the mixed values. Note the identifying value shapes and how they define the forms.

The top of the cylinder is flat and is therefore painted in the same way we would paint one of the faces of a cube, three values evenly spaced and then blended.

Brush in the middle values wherever you don’t have light or dark values.

Blend the transitions between values. The direction and shape of the brush stroke appropriate for the form is also used for the blend. Use curved strokes for the sphere, crescent shaped strokes for the torus, triangular strokes for the cone and parallel strokes for the cylinder and cube. If in blending the values you blend too much and loose contrast re-introduce, wet paint into wet paint, the lights and darks even, if necessary, to pure black and white.


Put in the background values. Use the background to sharpen edges. The tabletop recedes and is therefore a blend. Three different values are used to set up the blend. The wall is parallel to the canvas and is seen as a single value.

Blend the background. Use a Round brush to paint the proximity shadows. These long dark lines will be easier with a little medium added.

You have now experienced using the paints and brushes in the different ways necessary to create the basic forms.

The Credits Of The Tutorial Goes To: Bill Martin’s