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The Importance of Creating an Underpainting

This week I am adding the below portrait to my Brush Flow course, so it felt fitting to talk about the importance of creating an underpainting.
Why create an underpainting?

Is creating an underpainting, also known as a value study, not just adding extra work and delaying the painting process?Absolutely not! On the contrary, it significantly contributes to a smoother painting process and is something I recommend for every painting.

What is an underpainting?

An underpainting involves laying out your light and dark tones before introducing colour to your canvas. Establishing these foundations allows for a more structured approach when applying colour.
 I like to liken this preparation stage to painting a house. You wouldn’t simply roll on the colour; you’d go to the DIY shop, choose samples, fill in gaps, sand the surface, and then apply two or three coats of paint. Similarly, the more effort you invest in the early stages of painting, the better the final result.

Try this

For your next painting, use a black-and-white reference image like the one below. Map out your mid, light, and dark tones with a dark colour before diving into the painting process.

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