Demonstration of making a grisaille underpainting

Grisaille underpainting explanation 

The old masters worked impressively efficient. They separated the problem of shape from that of color.

By starting the monochromal underpainting they focussed on shape. You can do this in different colors, the most well known are:

  • black and white, which is also called grisaille
  • brown and white, which is also called brunaille
  • green and white, which is also called verdaccio

This phase is also called deadpainting, since the subject does not yet look alive. 

Over this underpainting, layers of semi-transparant paint and opaque paint follow. This is called glazing (for (semi)transparant layers) and scumbling (for opaque layers). This makes the oilpainting so unique in look & feel, since next to mixing olors on the palette or artwork, there is additional interaction between the layers itself. This is called optical mixing.