Colour Theory – Shapes



Today we will keep the article very short and simple; not because sketching is an easy job but because going into very deep detail is beyond the scope of this tutorial. For more information about sketching you might want to start reading here:

In any case, applying sketching knowledge to painting will definitely help you and allow you to progress and understand things faster. Very roughly, due to perspective, shapes distort; for realistic paintings you have to draw in perspective rather than regular shapes as you already know them (read here). Also, tones change due to distance; colours look paler as you move further away and more vibrant and “complete” as you come closer. We will cover all these aspects in due course. Regarding the basic shapes for painting, all you need is either a hard pencil (HB, H or 2H) or a thin brush and acrylic paint.



Using a Pencil

In the first case, using a hard pencil will allow you to draw your basic shapes and will prevent leaving very heavy and bold marks (which would definitely happen when using soft pencils 2B, 3B etc or charcoal). Light marks on your canvas can easily be covered with paint. Also, you will avoid mixing your paint with black dust (ie. charcoal) which will make the final result dirtier and darker. Of course you can always apply more than one layers of paint to avoid this problem; it’s entirely up to you. I just find it easier to roughly and lightly sketch the shape using a hard pencil and then paint on top of that. See below:

Light marks on your canvas can easily be covered with paint…


Using brush and paint

In the second case you start shaping your subject directly using paint and brushes. This is very good fun for two reasons. If you use reasonably diluted paint you can always rub it back and clean your canvas. It might leave a mark on your blank canvas but you shouldn’t worry too much as this can easily be covered by the next layer of colour. The second reason is that using a brush and paint you can’t be too precise with your shapes; this way you avoid spending ages detailing something you will then completely cover with paint. I find this technique quite easy, fast, fun and relieves me off the stress of detailed drawing. Of course the amount of detail you want to add is up to you but remember…this is just a trace to help you paint a bit more accurately later.

…avoid spending ages detailing something you will then completely cover with paint.

Few tips when using a brush:

  • Use diluted paint – it’s easier to cover it up later
  • Use light colours – for the same reason
  • Use slightly thicker paint for shapes that are closer to you (gives a sense of perspective – helpful for you); see the blue garlics above.
  • Start simple and experiment – trying a very complicated composition will not help you – most probably will frustrate you.
  • Use less  defined shapes as it is less probable to look wrong (a wobbly building looks very wrong while a wobbly tomato looks like a wobbly tomato…still tasty though!)
  • You might want to use a combination of pencil (for some basic shapes or for perspective lines…) and brush (for rougher shaping afterwards.



Presumably, you have already experimented with one technique or the other. I would suggest you choose a simple subject (like the bananas and the apple I sketched above) and try shaping the outlines on two separate canvases using both techniques. You will have the chance to compare the two sketches in terms of detail, speed, accuracy and ease. Allow for 0.5 hour.

  • A small brush (a round brush will be helpful),
  • Some diluted acrylic paint (light colours will be covered easier when you block in colour later).
  • Cloth to erase/rub the paint if you need.
  • 2x Canvas (canvas pad – easier and cheaper for this exercise)
  • A hard (2H or H) pencil  (for part of your sketch you might want to try using a soft pencil – 3B or softer to see the difference).
  • Rubber


A quick summary of the above is here:

  • Principles of Perspective and Tone.
  • Pencil – More detailed sketch – think if necessary
  • Brush – less detailed but quick and easy

The Artist says:

28407451_1162363890564038_455176961_o“I have been passionate about painting since I remember myself. I started by just eexperimenting with colours, colour mixing and colour application. However , it’s not always easy to achieve what you want unless you know exactly what you are doing. Techniques are different for different media; colour theory though is the basis of painting and is the same for everything! I decided to teach myself the basics; and here I am sharing that with you!



Art is more fun when you meet the artists themselves! Visit THE ARTIST…


Love Sketching & Painting