Color and Lighting for Painters: Everything You Need to Know About Color and Lighting

Come join Eve Skylar, art director and painter in the animation industry, for a 4-week session of “Everything You Need to Know About Color and Lighting.”

Are you a representational painter who struggles with mixing color?  Do you often find that your paintings get muddy or that they seem garish and you don’t know why?  Are you completely dependent on photo reference to create, limited by what kind of photos you can take?   Do you want to be able to paint better than your photo reference? Do you want to take your painting to the next level, where you can own your compositions, paint any subject matter, and literally create anything you want with dynamic color and lighting?

If so, this class is for you.  Let Eve guide you along through the basics of color theory all the way to advanced lighting where you’ll gain the confidence and knowledge to create representational paintings that are realistic, convey strong moods, evoke emotions, and tell stories through color and lighting.

The class is open to all levels, from beginners to seasoned painters. It is geared towards artists interested in still life, landscapes, portraits, and anyone who wants to learn how to approach color and lighting in a painting.

Color and Lighting is the basic foundation to every successful painting.

By learning color and lighting theory you will:

  • gain confidence in mixing color

  • understand how light interacts with color

  • be able to simplify subject matters, color compositions, and lighting schemes

  • learn how to paint realistic lighting conditions (even without photo reference)

  • design color and lighting to further push dynamic moods in your paintings

  • increase your painting speed



Through lectures and live-painting demos, the 4-week sessions will cover:

  • The 4 Properties of Color: Hue, Value, Saturation, & Temperatures

  • Color Schemes: Monochromatic, Warms & Cools, Complementary, Split-Complementary, and Tertiary

  • “The 80-20 Rule” : Designing Color Harmony and Color Compositions in your paintings

  • The 6-Value Form Principle: How to paint realistic color and lighting conditions in your paintings

  • 3-Step Lighting Theory:  How to simplify a typical lighting scheme: key light, rim light, and global illumination that naturally occurs in interior still life, exterior landscapes, and portraitures.

  • Complex Lighting Schemes:  How to combine and push dramatic lighting effects : backlit (sunset), ¾ front lighting (typical portrait), top lighting, underlighting, and side lighting

  • Advance Lighting

    • Lambertian Lighting: how to paint lambertian deep textures and specular highlights found on different materials, such as tree barks, moss, animal fur/feathers, hair, granite rocks, metals, and corrosion effects

    • Global Illumination: how sky colors (sunrise, noon, sunset) or season colors (spring, summer, fall, winter) affects your landscapes

    • how to paint translucent and transparent objects with subsurface scattering as seen in the transmitted sunlight through leaves, hair, or fur

    • Reflective Light: how to paint reflections found in metals (chrome, brass, aluminum), mirrors, tiles, and water surfaces

  • Moods: how different colors affect moods

  • How to choose specific color schemes and design with dynamic color and lighting


**Practice Makes Perfect: Students have (optional) 1hr homework weekly assignments to better cement the theories. By the end of the 4-week class, students can choose to complete a small simple painting (a portrait, still life, or landscape) using the color and lighting theories learned throughout the sessions.

***Though this class is taught with lecture and teacher demos using a combination of different paint mediums, these principles apply to any medium. Students are encouraged to do their homework, take notes, and follow along the demos with their preferred mediums. After registration, students will be sent a suggested materials list depending on their preferred mediums.

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