How to Paint a Gradient Shade on a Wall

Written by lauren vork
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Anyone experienced with modern computer image editors is familiar with the look of a gradient shade -- a blended transition between two colours. Painting a gradient shade in real paint, however, is an effect you don't see quite as often. Creating an even transition with a look similar to that of a computer is something of an unusual task, but it's one you can achieve with measured paint quantity and application.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Acrylic paint, one or two colours
  • Paintbrush or roller
  • Chalk string
  • Large artist's paintbrush
  • Large kitchen sponge
  • Wash bucket

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  1. 1

    Paint the wall with the lighter of the two gradient colours you want to apply, or leave white for a white and colour gradient. The darker colour will be applied over the top of this. Let dry.

  2. 2

    Divide the wall into six equal, horizontal sections. Mark these off with chalk string lines or pencil lines.

  3. 3

    Mix your darker paint with water to a relatively thin consistency. Make it about the consistency of half and half creamer; this consistency will ensure that you have sufficient working time with your paint between applying it and when it hardens.

  4. 4

    Paint the bottom section in solid colour. Let it dry and apply a second coat, if needed. If you're not applying a second coat, continue working before the paint is dry.

  5. 5

    Dot paint onto the next section up from the bottom. Use a large artist's brush to make dots about a half inch to an inch wide. Place the dots close enough to one another that they cover up about 80 per cent of that area of the wall. (Do your best to estimate, as this is not an exact science but a means to control the quantity of the paint application.) If working with an area larger than 6 square feet, work with only 6 square feet at a time so that the paint doesn't dry before you finish.

  6. 6

    Blend the paint dots over their sectioned-off area using a lightly damp (not dripping) sponge. Smear the paint dots into a smooth, solid application of paint. Apply a little more water to the sponge if you need to in order to help the paint spread evenly.

  7. 7

    Blend the paint between the two sections of wall using the sponge. Use upward strokes to pull paint from the lower section into the upper one. Thoroughly rinse and wring out the sponge.

  8. 8

    Repeat the same dotting and blending process on the next section of wall. This time, cover only 60 per cent of the area with dots.

  9. 9

    Do the next section of wall in the same manner. Cover only 40 per cent of the wall in dots.

  10. 10

    Cover the next section with half as many dots as the section you just did. Position these dots so that most of them are in the lower part of the section and fewer are at the top. Blend with the sponge; move the sponge horizontally or pull downward, but don't pull it up.

  11. 11

    Thoroughly wash the paint from the sponge and wring it out. Use the clean, damp sponge to blend the paint at the uppermost painted section up into the final, lightest section to complete the gradient.

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