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Soft edges

how do you paint soft edges without blending on the canvas? In particular, the dark lines inside the lunchbox need to be more diffuse, and there is a shadow on the orange on the top that needs to be distinct but have a soft edge.


  • @Freeman, it's ok to blend a lttle wet in wet. Da Vinci used his fingers to help get that sfumato look. Just don't blend where it's not needed. Blending is about softening edges really. It's something you do after you've laid in all the correct values/colours. However, if you're not using a slow drying medium you might need to do it as you paint each area.
  • @Freeman if it is still wet then the objects that are not receiving enough light will be defused. If the paint is still wet then you can just pull a dry brush over an edge that needs to be defused and it will be a soft edge.

    The soft edge is just a specific value and color. Use Mark's color judging method to identify and paint that edge if the painting has dried.
  • I’m certainly no expert but I think if you want soft edges without blending you have to mix and use more steps. Really tough to do in small areas without blending with a dry brush. I think this is going to turn out to be a great still life!
  • edited January 6
    The no-blending rule with DMP is not an edges rule, it’s not to feather adjacent color steps in an attempt to “fix” as you are putting colors in. There are lots of ways to soften edges. Oftentimes I take a small dry brush and do a zigzag motion over the hard edge when it is still wet, followed by one stroke along the length I want to soften. Then stop. Any more with the dry brushing and it looks fussy instead of painterly. 
  • Good advice @Martin_J_Crane, you certainly know how to take the EDGE off a frustrating situation. This "Bottle in the Window" is one of my favorites on the DMP site. 
  • Thanks Martin. Now I have to give up painting because I can never create anything that beautiful. Just kidding. Did you paint this from life?
  • Thanks very much guys.  Yep- painted from life.  You have come to the right place.  Mark is the only instructor I have ever had.  Just keep pushing the limits of what you think you can do. 
  • Again, I have to ask you about light. Did you use natural light from the window. Your lighting is exactly what I am seeking to create.
  • @Martin_J_Crane ah now I see how you did it, I looked at your original post. Great idea. Did you go on to do the crab painting? I live in the area as well, down in Sourthern MD.
  • @Freeman unfortunately a number of life events intervened in the last year and I haven’t painted. Things haven’t let up but I am determined to get back in the studio. I’m in Silver Spring and work in DC, so if you ever get up this way let me know!
  • Will do. Likewise if you need a break from the madness in DC, come down to Calvert County. I am going to set this painting aside and let it dry, then go back and try to salvage what I can. In the meantime I am cooking up a new composition. Something a bit more simple so I can focus on the process.
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