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How to Paint Shadows & Highlights with Acrylic Paint

Learn how to paint shadows and highlights with acrylic paint from painter Linda Rhea in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Linda. I created a company called Paint Along. Check us out at We have really fun painting workshops in Nashville and New York. Now we are going to show you how to form shadows and highlights and we have prepared a basic apple shape to work with, We've got our acrylic paint in the red and it's very flat. This paint is still very wet and workable I want it to appear as if the light is coming from the upper left hands corner. In order to form our shadows we are going to choose a complimentary color to red which is green and that will give us a really natural shadow color without being dull. So what I'm going to do is load up my brush with the green. This is a very dark green paint and I'm just going to start on this lower section of the apple and bring it up in to the red. I'm going to let it gradually get lighter and lighter as I come around the apple. This also gives it dimension it makes the apple like it's got the round cylindrical shape Making it darkest at the bottom and as you slide it becomes lighter and lighter moving around. So I'm going to pick up my one quarter inch flat brush. I'm going use some more of the red paint a little higher. So I am going to make it brighter and little bit of white makes it lighter. This will be my highlighter color.

We are going to put the highlight color on the upper left. You don't need much it's just going to put a little bit on here at the end. This is sort of in a circular motion following the shape of the apple and that's how we do basic highlights with acrylic paint.

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