Painting A Vertical Cylinder In Watercolor

A Simple Shape That Is Found In Many Subjects

Learn how to show light and form on a standing – or vertical – cylinder. In this lesson you’ll paint a simple cylinder shape with lit and shadowed sides and the all important “core of the shadow. It’s easy lesson that will shows you how to make any cylindrically shaped object look just right!!

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Learn How To Paint This Important Shape

The cylinder is the underlying shape to many common objects – tree trunks, silos, rounded fenceposts, vases, candles, and so on.  It is a very simple and easy shape but with one special feature that is easy to get wrong.  In this lesson we’ll show you how to paint the cylinder so it looks right – especially if it is catching direct light.

There is another lesson on painting cylinders here – be sure to try that one as well.

Differences Between Angular and Curved Objects In Light

Like angular objects, cylinders also clearly show light and shade. But, their rounded shape means that the transistion between the two is gradual and there is no sharp edge. This lesson shows you how to paint that transition and the other special light effects on a cylinder.

Core of the Shadow

As mentioned, the transistion from light to shade is gradual. The transition is soft-edged and is generally both darker in value and cooler in temperature. As the curved form turns away from light and into shade, the cooler temperatures often warm and lighten due to ambient light that reflects back into the shady area.   This makes the look of rounded, cylindrical objects very distinctive and require a couple special painting effects.

The first effect is known as the “core of the shadow”.  Generally,  darkest part of the shade-side is actualy right along the soft-edge, gradual transition from light to shade.  It’s best painted using a dry-in-wet technique which acheives the effect of the distinct but soft edge.

The second effect happens when warmer light from the flat surface or from other objects on the shady side to reflect, or bounce, light back into the further parts of the shady side.

Learning to paint simple cylinders will give you a head start on all of those cylinder-shaped objects in your painting.

What You’ll Need:


Related Lessons

Simple Shapes

Light and Form