Scumbling to achieve realism

Scumbling is a technique in oil painting that is used to create reflection and light related things. When light falls on an object, there is naturally a formation of presence of light and reflection on the object. How do you bring about showing the falling of light on an object? This can be achieved by the scumbling technique. You might also be interested in glazing oil painting.
The basic scumbling technique goes by making an opaque oil paint to dry to a desirable consistency, I choose titanium white to dry. Then I mix it with an appropriate color ( depending on the subject and the light falling on the subject ) and apply highlight using the scumbling technique. Scumbling should be the final step in the painting. Let us say you want to apply scumbling on the lamp, then create a lamp, finish rest of the areas of the lamp, then as a final step use scumbling in the areas of brightness and finish it.
Variation in Scumbing technique
In the old master’s style, scumbling is a technique where linseed oil is not used. I sometimes use linseed oil for the purpose of smudging, smudging the distinct highlight with the rest of the reflection. When I feel the heavy highlight should not stand out, should smudge smoothly with the rest of the reflection, I use linseed oil.
Article on realistic oil painting might also interest you.
Scumbling for light
Let us discuss scumbling for light related objects such as sun, moon, sky during broad day light, bulb, tube light, and fire. The technique is pretty simple, dry the titanium white a little bit, mix it with your desirable color, select the area of highlight and apply. This technique can only be used on an already finished painting, meaning scumbling should be the last step to finish the subject that you are working on.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
These are the light related subjects, and depending on the subject the choice of color differs. Let us say for subjects such as sun and moon I rely on any red color such as scarlett lake, bright red, cadmium red, cadmium orange, cadmium yellow and maybe even lemon yellow.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
For sky, I choose the colors light blue, manganese blue and cobalt blue hue depending on whether it is day or evening light. You can create a lot of values, create different levels of brightness and apply values accordingly.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
For light items such as bulb and tubelight, depending on the color of the light, I choose my colors and brightest values along the same colors and create different levels of brightness. You might also be interested in how to do an oil painting.
Scumbling for non-living objects
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
Scumbling would look really good on silver, platinum, pearl, gold and all the flashy objects that reflect light heavily. In such cases what I do is, I demarcate the presence of light from absence of light. Then I focus on the presence of light zone alone.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
In case of this vessel, in the presence of light zone of the anda, I have used several combinations of paints, several mixtures with titanium white dominating the mixture. That is how you can create various  levels of brightness. The more you focus on the brightness, the easier you can achieve realism. You might also be interested in the article – varnishing an oil painting.
Scumbling for still life
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
This is a study from life, so it was very easy for me to study it. The values and the colors related to the values were vivid to my eyes. Look at the reflection on the chilly. What I do in such cases is I create a range of reflection on the subject, then I choose a heavy highlight, apply the heavy highlight in a small area that I have chosen and then I smudge it with the other areas of reflection. That is how I achieve realism.
In this case, I have used scarlett lake diluted with titanium white on the reflection zone, and for heavy reflection I have used the heavily diluted scarlet lake with white mixture with white dominating the mixture.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
Scumbling for skin
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
Scumbling for skin is very tricky. This requires more than two colors to be mixed with the titanium white. Let us say, my subject is someone with a dark skin, I would create my reflection using the colors burnt umber, burnt umber and green combination, burnt sienna and green, and also this will be influenced by the light that is falling on the subject.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
Let us say it is an indoor light with a yellow bulb, and the light from the bulb is falling on the subject, then the light on her skin will be dominated by yellow color. Let us if she is lighting a lamp, the light from the lamp is falling on her skin, then the light on her skin should be a mixture with colors such as cadmium orange and yellow dominating there.
Then there are two other lights such as natural light and broad day light.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
This is an example of natural light falling on my subject. The light is falling on the right side of the woman, I have used colors such as cadmium red, cadmium orange diluted with titanium white and the effect of reds have been slightly suppressed by permanent light green. I have a value on my mind, when it is simply a mixture of cadmium red and white, what happens is that it would not go along with the skin, so I reduce the dominance of this combination using a light green such as permanent light green or cadmium green.
Scumbling for realistic oil painting
This is an example of my subject standing in the broad day light with heavy light falling on her like an afternoon light. My subject is dark in complexion. Look at the light falling on the right side of her face. I have used scumbling and applied it on all the projections on her face on the right hand side. The key is I create a midtone on the right side of her face and body showing presence of light and then for reflection I create values that are a few fold higher than the light on her face. I use the same combination that is there on the right side of her face, and use a lot of titanium white to create reflection zones and heavy highlights. If I think the values are pretty bright and do not match with the skin, I reduce the brightness using light greens.

Ramya Sadasivam has been practicing art since 2006. She so loves to portray Indian culture, customs, day to day chores of the hard working laborers, happy village life and life of women.

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