Painting Tones and Colors

You must learn about painting tones and colors for landscapes.

painting tones and colors

Tones and colors is now available on DVD No.1 available on DVD No.1

Painting Tones and Colors – Step 3

Free Painting Lessons for Beginners

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A quick way to learn the value of tones in a landscape is to paint with one dark color and white.
Paint the background with white, tinted with a little color. The middle ground will need to be painted in darkening tones as we come forward. The foreground in full color, vibrant with a few white highlights

What is the meaning of tone when painting

  • The word – tones. You can think about tones like this. Pale tones mean pale colors, any color.
  • Black with white added is a paler tone than pure black.
  • And the same goes for any color.
  • Bright tones mean bright colors, any color.

Painting tones and colors need thinking about. Don’t ignore it.

  • Pure black can be a bright tone or you might call it a dark tone or deep tone.
  • Warm tones are colors closer to red.
  • Cool tones are colors closer to lemon yellow.
  • A color can look warm when placed next to a cool color and cool when placed next to a warmer color.
  • It is a bit like the weather, some days are warm, some days are cool, some days are cool but warm compared to other days.
  • Fire engine red is warm red, crimson is cool red.
  • Ultramarine blue is warm blue for it has a purple tint when placed next to other blues cobalt blue is cool blue.
  • Lemon yellow is cool.
  • Warm yellow looks more like an orange than a lemon.

Carefully painting tones and colors can give your painting a 3D look.

  • By using pale cool tones in the background and bright warm tones in the foreground of our landscapes we can have a three dimensional look in our paintings.
  • By painting bright warm red dots over bright cool blue background we can cause our eyes to become disorientated and the dots will appear to be standing well above the background.
  • Blue tones, red tones, grey tones, a reddish brown tone, cool tones, warm tones, bright tones, dull tones, vivid tones of green, you might say -tone- is another word for color but it usually refers to the amount of color.
  • Tone your colors down means make them softer or duller, usually by adding white.
  • Possibly the mistake I most often see in a beginner-s landscape is the misuse of tones, or not enough variation of tones.
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  • Landscapes should be painted with pale tones in the distance and darker tones in the foreground.
  • You cannot have a dark blue mountain behind a light blue mountain, it just does not happen.
  • And that goes for everything in the landscape.
  • A brilliant green tree in the distance must be of a paler tone than the white tree in the foreground, the white is vibrant, and the green is dull.
  • A fire engine next to you is brilliant red but when it has driven away say fifty yards, it is crimson and as it drives further away it will fade into the same grey as everything else in the distance.
  • On a foggy day it will turn grey within a few yards.
  • Bright red is a foreground color and should not be used in the background of a painting.
  • That color you see everywhere in nature that is not red or blue or yellow or any other common color, is grey.
  • When the three primary colors join they make grey.
  • So we have blue grey, red grey, green grey and endless variations of grey, take out the yellow and we have mauve and purple, add more reds to the grey and we have red browns and add yellow and blue to that and you might have a color that looks black.
  • The possibilities are endless. In a landscape the colors with which you mix your grey should continue through the painting.
  • You need to be careful if you change your basic set of colors half way through the landscape.
  • For instance, cobalt blue hills in the distance will gain crimson and then yellow as they come forward, you should not add ultramarine blue or mauve to change the tones.
  • Mix your colors from a limited palette.
  • Arranging the tones in a painting can be a formula.

Painting tones and colors is a stimulating subject when you realize how it work.

  • An area of bright tones is needed somewhere in the middle of the painting, the edges of the painting should be of darker tones and the corners should hold the darkest tones.
  • Combine this with everything pointing into the picture and you will catch and hold the viewer’s eye.
  • By – everything pointing into the picture,- I mean trees leaning in, cottages facing in, mountains sloping in on the edges, fences getting bigger as they come into the picture and figures facing into the picture.
  • If an object like a tree must lean out of the picture then another object needs to be placed to catch the eye and lead it back into the picture, this might be a cloud or a bird or foliage.
  • If you view an – old master – you will see how the tones are arranged to trap your eye, squint, and you will see a definite glow coming from the painting.
  • If the glow is near the edge of the painting, when you fully open your eyes you will see the items have been placed to attract your eye away from that edge of the painting.
  • In most paintings the glow is near the center.

Go To – Perspective

by Len Hend


Add a Comment
  1. I loved the video. It really gave me a good base for looking at color. This, along with your video on perspective, are the best and most thorough lesson I’ve ever had on these subjects.
    Thanks, Len. You are a great teacher!
    (And I should know because I’m a teacher, too)

  2. This is the most helpful info I have seen on using tones. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge in this instructional video. It is the clearest of all I have seen, and I plan to apply it to my paintings and read it over and over until it all so is in. Learning about tones has been my biggest challenge since perspective, and I have yet to perfect that as well. But, I’m getting there, thanks to you.

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