Backgrounds of paintings can be quite easy if broken down into small steps. Great colours and shading can make the perfect background for almost any painting, regardless of whether it is a portrait, landscape or still life.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Paint (acrylic, water or oil)
Decide what type of focus the painting will have. If the main object is red, try to use the colours in the background to accent it, not clash with it. Colours opposite on the colour wheel are considered complementary and will make each other stand out.
Start building up the background. Mix several colours together to get a unique and full colour. Use long brush strokes from side to side to cover the canvas.
Create a focal light if doing a landscape, still life or portrait. For abstract painting, a focal light can be done if wanted. This light should be near the horizon line, and it is best if it's off centre. This will establish how shadows fall.
Create a gradient of colours from the focal light. Take one created colour and add small amounts of white or black at a time as these gradients are created. Keep increasing small amounts of the white or black as you move farther away from the light source.
Play around with different brush strokes to create different textures. Using a sponge or criss-crossing lines can help create texture.
Show depth by having small objects in the background. These will have very little detail and almost fade in with the other colours of the background.
Make the foreground stand out by adding a closer object onto the background.
Use white highlights to emphasise your light source. Use dark shades to contrast these so they really stand out.
Add in the main objects and focus to finish your painting.
Tips and warnings
- Play around with different brush strokes and colour mixtures.