Grisaille Painting To Create Realism and Drama

How to paint the human figure with more realism? Consider this acrylic painting technique.

how to paint

Grisaille (grɪʼzaɪ, -ʼzeɪl; French: gris, grey, French pronunciation: /ɡʁi.zaj/) painting is a technique of painting in monochromatic (one single color) color. Mostly in grayscale (black and white), but can also be in sepia (brown) tones.
I use this technique all the time in my current paintings, even though is is not apparent in the final result. This is because I always start the underpainting as Grisaille, and then paint the transprent colors on top as layers.

Painting in grayscale, is almost the best way to map out the tonal values in an painting. This is essential quality in my painting compositions, especially because I rely a lot on light effects to portay drama and atmosphere.

My acrylic painting technique is to first the light shadows then darken part of the shadows that are in deeper shade. I normally leave highlights as color from the white canvas.

Concentrating on tonal values by painting in Grisaille renders realistic 3d effects of the subject. This is a very common technique used by the great master portrat artists like Rembrandt, Michaelangelo , Vermeer…etc.

It is also a technique used by artists of Trompe-l’œil. These are painting usually done on archetecture to give illusion of 3d effect.