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Dead layer

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Dead layer

Postby nosdrahciR » Thu Aug 03, 2006 10:18 pm

I would really like to know the purpose and the proper technique for the dead layer of paint on a portrait. I have played around with it using Flake white paint but I can't accomplish what I have read about the dead layer. Does any one know?
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RE: Dead Layer

Postby jenn_iam » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:30 pm


Dead Layer or also referred to as the 17th century term: "dead coloring" is a method to add effect, mood or depth to your painting. There are different techniques that can be used that give slightly different effects, a couple are described below.

One way is by beginning your painting in gray tones and then afterwards adding color. This method gives the painting a cadaverous quality from the gray under painting, reminiscent to many early oil paintings such as Leonardo’s work.

Another way is washing a Dead Layer on your painting with white lead, light ocher, red ocher, and burnt bone. The objective of this technique is to give the look as if its objects were lit with moonlight - olive cold gray color. Colors are applied thickly, half a tone higher, shadows are very transparent, half a tone lower.

I found a pretty good visual of this, for an example at the following link:

I hope this helps.
May your world be painted in the Brightest of colors!

Jennifer Erin
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Postby nosdrahciR » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:42 pm

Thanks, that does help a bit. I have tried both techniques that you have suggested but I'm not satisfied with the result. Is there any tricks or method that you would suggest?
a painting is never completed just abandon.
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Jul 02, 2006 9:53 am
Location: St Louis MO

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