The way a shadow is painted can make or ruin a painting. Shadows shouldn't be done at the last minute as an after-thought, as something totally separate from the main subject of the painting, but need to be considered as seriously as the other elements. This compilation of all my articles on shadows will help you on your way to painting successful shadows.
Pure, straight-from-the-tube black is invariably too dark in tone
and too consistent or flat in color to make a satisfactory shadow. Mixing a chromatic black
is already an improvement, but using a complementary color
will produce a more subtle, natural effect.
The ultimate lesson in suitable colors for shadows comes from the Impressionists, who were masters at observing nature and the effects of light. If you don't allow black on your palette, just what do you use?
Crucial to painting a successful shadow is identifying what type of shadow it is, not to simply paint a generic shadow. You need to know what the differences are between a cast shadow and a form shadow, and how to approach painting them.
At what stage in a painting should you do the shadows, and do you leave the shadow area white until you get to it or paint the shadow on top of other paint?
Read various tips on how to paint shadows from fellow artists. If you've got a great tip to share, use this form
to submit it.
Create a gentle shadow in watercolor with the final layer of glaze, which isn't done with black paint but a suitable primary. The multiple layers of color blend together to look like the dark tones of a shadow.
Don't think shadows don't apply to seascapes -- not only do rocks on the shoreline have shadows, but waves may too, depending on the angle of the sun.