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monochromatic painting

using a reference photo

by JuliannaKunstler.com

Learning targets

  • Grid drawing
  • Value review
  • Color schemes (monochromatic)
  • Color Theory: color mixing
  • Color values
  • Vocabulary: hue, shade, tone, and tint
  • Use of flat and round brushes
  • Painting techniques and skill development

Monochromatic colors are all the variations (tints, tones, and shades) of a single hue.

The hue is lightened by adding white to it (tints), darkened by adding black to it (shades).

Additionally, pure black and white may be incorporated into a monochromatic color scheme.

painting example painting example painting example


  • Choose an image from the gallery.
  • Draw a grid on your board.
  • Copy all shapes outlines carefully, square-by-square, onto the board.
  • Determine the values in your reference photo
  • Mix your hue (only secondary and terciary colors, no primaries).
  • Start painting with the darkest value first.

reference images:

reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image
reference image


monochromatic painting
monochromatic painting
monochromatic painting


Create a grid consisting of 1 inch border and inside create a grid that is 8x13 (1 inch boxes)

Take your time measuring and mapping out straight proportions

Light outline of your lines

Complete 8x13 grid

Transfer picture onto drawn grid

  • Lightly draw outline shapes from your image

When complete, start planning out which value is which → Label

Choose and mix one color for your monochromatic painting

You will have at least five values:

white > tint > tone > hue > shade

If you see little of one value, consider not having white as one

Paint one value at a time

Mix and paint from darkest shade to lightest tint

2-3 Layers for each color

Graded on the following:



Clean application

Use of value-Lines up with reference

Draw every single detail shown in your image

Make your own reference image:

Start with finding an image you would like to paint. You will have to adjust it in Photoshop to break it into values and resize it.

1. The image cannot be a logo or somebody else's artwork. It should be a photograph.

reference photo

2. Save it to your desktop or your flash drive.

3. Open Adobe Photoshop. Open the image (File > Open)

photoshop image step

There are 2 things we are going to do in Photoshop:
1. Break all values into 4 levels
2. Resize the image and crop it to be exactly 10x8 inches

photoshop image manipulation

photoshop image step

4. Next step is to remove all colors (desaturate the image).

Go to the menu bar and choose:

Image > Adjustments > Desaturate.


5. If the image is not contrasted (not enough whites or blacks) - you can fix it

photoshop image step photoshop image step

Go to:

Image > Adjustments > Levels

photoshop image step

Then drag the black and white sliders to the start and end of the histogram as shown:

photoshop image step

6. Break values into 4 levels:

Image > Adjustments > Posterize

photoshop image step

Choose 4 levels.

Then click OK

photoshop image step

7. Now we are going to apply a filter to smooth the edges.

Filter > Filter Gallery

photoshop image step

Choose Artistic group.

Cutout filter.

Set number of levels to 4.

Click OK

crop and resize

image orientation

8. Make sure you image is horizontally oriented.

If it's not - you need to rotate it (Image > Image Rotation > 90)


Resize the image:

Choose the selection Marquee tool


In the Option bar:

set style to Fixed Ratio

W=10 H=8

resize image

9.Click and drag a rectangle to select the part of the image to crop.


9. Crop the image:

Image > Crop

image size

10. Set the image size to 10x8.

Image > Image Size

image size

Make sure you use inches for units

image printing

Save and print

Choose the printer
Scale: 100%

Check the paper orientation. Then print.

transfer image

grid drawing

Draw a 1" grid on the image printout.


Draw a 10x8 grid on the drawing board

Transfer the outlines onto the board.


For this painting, you will mix a "custom color" hue. Combine any two or more hues you want to create your own "custom-color". Make enough paint to be able to complete your painting... you don't want to try to make the same exact color again if you run out.

Premix different values of your color by adding white or black to it. Match you custom color values with greys in the image.

The darkest shapes in your reference image will be painted the darkest value or black. The lightest shapes will be painted the lightest level or white.

monochromatic painting monochromatic painting monochromatic painting