Colored Umber washes



This transparent layering technique is based on a watercolor technique of very thin washes layered to create darker values and glowing highlights. Envision a value scale with the white of the surface as your light (highlight) value #10! You are then beginning at the TOP OF THE SCALE. Each wash slowly inches your way down the value scale to the final dark (which may or may not be a value #1).


Each wash will deepen the area slightly and should look like a “natural” progression of the value scale! Therefore, each WASH is almost the consistency AS  DIRTY BLENDING MEDIUM

Because I work in such thin, transparent layers, you must be very careful to make sure that the transfer paper (graphite) is wax free. Otherwise your paint will not be able to adhere to the surface and just bead up!

The correct transparency to use for each wash


A receding Dark is not created by heavier (which becomes opaque) paint, it is created by multiple layers of extremely thin paint that retains the SAME transparency for each layer.

SHOULD YOU LOSE THE HIGHLIGHT AREA (BACKGROUND) CLEAN IT OUT WITH CLEAN SIMPLE GREEN AND A CLEAN BRUSH OR A DAMPENED CRAFT PICK. Soften the edges of the clean out area(s) by gently rubbing or DABBING with a Dome Blender.  After each step, carefully check to make sure that you have left the correctly shaped highlight areas and that you have been applying the correct shadow shapes on the items. CORRECT AS YOU GO!


On your wax palette, place a large chocolate chip size of each Colored Umber mix.  Beside each puddle of paint, squeeze out an equal volume of Golden Open Acrylic Medium Gloss. Using your palette knife, mix the paint and medium together.  I work with such thinned paint that I need to place a binding agent into the paint to make it permanent.  I then place my palette knife into the  DecoArt Traditions Blending Medium and mix what is retained on the knife into the paint. I repeat this process 2 more times. Each puddle is then covered with an upside down condiment cup. The thinned and covered paint will keep for many weeks. Using a brush, I pull out from the outer edge of the puddle a very small amount of paint. Into this paint, I continue to add the Traditions Blending Medium until I have the correct transparency. As the air tightens the paint (over a period of many hours) more Blending Medium can be added as needed.

Umbers covered with Condiment Cups

  1. TRAPPING THE DESIGN: So that no pattern lines are lost during the application of the Umber layers on these items we will need to trap (carefully outline) each one with the Colored Umber Mix that begins that items color progression (actual color).
    Place the liner brush into blending medium and into the small amount that is not covered by the cup, mix into the paint. Continue until you have an “ink-like” consistency. Using the tracing photo as your guide and holding your #3/0 liner like a pencil  “draw over” all the solid lines in the tracing.
  2.  Outline (trap) all items that will be or have an undertone of yellow or orange with Yellow Umber.
  3. Outline (trap) all items that will be red orange or red with the Red Umber mix.
  4. Outline (trap) all items that are brown or dark with the Dark Umber Mix.
  5. Outline (trap) all items that will light green or yellow green with the Yellow Green Umber Mix.
  6. Outline (trap) all items that are dark green or blue green with the Green Umber Mix.
  7. Outline all items (areas) that appear to be Black or grey are trapped with a mix of equal parts of Dark Umber Mix + Blue Umber Mix.

Design trapped with Colored Umbers

Allow the trapping lines to dry.




Leave a Reply