Paint like a master with this Step by Step Tutorial on how to Paint a Grisaille Portrait.


Step by Step Tutorial on how to Paint a Traditional Painting using Grisaille.

This lesson explains the step-by-step process of painting like the Old Masters using the classical approach to painting. You will learn about how and where it is used, and what types of painting can be painted using this method.

Sneak Peak!

The monochromatic painting technique (called Grisaille), was done entirely in shades of grey, not unlike a black and white photograph. 

Sometimes, the Masters of traditional painting used this method to help them think through their paintings, especially large, complex compositions. They called it “underpainting“. They would paint an entire scene in one color.

  • Start by mixing your Paynes Grey or Black with white. Create a value scale from dark to light.
  • Number them from 1 to 9.
    • White = 0
    • 0 – 3 is your light values
    • 4 – 6 is medium
    • 10 = black
    • 7- 10 is your darkest values




Portrait Painting for Dummies

Paint like a master with this Step by Step Tutorial on how to Paint a Grisaille Portrait.

Imagine music without a clear melody. . . In art, a close equivalent to that would be a painting without clear values or colors. Just as the notes and rhythms of a melody lead us through a musical piece, it is value and color that moves us through a painting.
In art, an underpainting is an initial layer of paint applied to the canvass, which serves as a base for subsequent layers of paint. Underpaintings are often monochromatic (greyscale), and help to define color values for later painting. There are several different types of underpainting, such as Grisaille, Bistre, and Verdaccio.
Bistre, Grisaille, and Verdaccio are all techniques that were used by the Old Masters like Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and others to create a traditional underpainting.
A monochromatic underpainting allowed them to work out the details of the composition and develop a very precise drawing before other paint colors were applied through glazes. The Traditional Painting Masters’s wanted a plan for how light or dark everything would be, from the darkest dark to the lightest light. For them, the underpainting (also called “Grisaille“) was a powerful method. It helped to break a fairly large and difficult task into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks.