Earl Painting Completed - Revised Version

edited April 2021 in Painting
Are there any Mark Carder videos that disucss hard and soft edges out there you could recommend?  Any other resources/discussions?  I did a search for "edges" here on the forum and didn't find what I was looking for.  This is something that I've never really studied before and would like to get an education.  Currenty working on a dog portrait and someone suggested softening the edges.  The paint is dry so I'm not quite sure how to go about doing this.  It is still a WIP.  https://forum.drawmixpaint.com/discussion/13094/earl-wip#latest


  • One way to learn edges is to mess around with them.  An easy way to make soft edges is to, first, make your edge.  Usually, it will be next to another edge and usually it will be harder rather than softer.  Then, come back with a softer, and dry brush.  An old soft watercolor brush works well.  Drag it along the edge you have just made.  You can drag it in the direction of the edge a few times until the degree of softness you desire is achieved.  You can "squiggle" it along the edge to blur and soften it more. I often use my "touch" method  . . . I touch the hard edge softly with the pad of my finger. Sometimes, just the flick of your brush tip will do the job.  Get some studio scrap and and play around with it.  You'll get it.
  •  A_Time_To_Paint

    Here is a useful illustrated primer.

    Edges in Art – Everything You Need to Know



  • Thank you so much @dencal.  Didn't find this one and so apperciate your pointing me in the right direction!!
  • @A_Time_To_Paint
    Use a brush that doesn't make a hard edge. A bristle that seen some wear maybe. Brush size would depend on the size of the painting. Paint along the edge without a lot of paint on the soft edge side of the bush. Don't make it a constant 'weight' all along edge. Vary the softness be subtle. Dogs have furry edges, broken edges and hard edges. 

  • @A_Time_To_Paint

    You could also use an intermediate color (in essence the color you would get from blending the edge) and go over the edge, controlling the desired thickness, coverage and if still wet controlling blending with what is already there.  This optical effect will be a softer edge.

    "Soft" edges can be literally soft in the sense that the edge is a small gradation, or edges can be optically soft if the hard transitions (hue, value, intensity) are not too big.

    Here is a little video that talks about edges by Ian Roberts, (BTW he has a really good series of videos about composition)

  • Thanks very much @KingstonFineArt.  Good advice.  Thanks @CBG,  Will definitely check out this video.  I like this artist very much.  
  • Thank you @broker12.  I'm attempting to soften edges on a painting that has already dried so this will be challenging.  Thanks again for your advice and encouragement.
  • Thank you @dencal for the resource you recommended.  I did find it educational.  Also @CBG thank you for the video, I enjoyed watching that and found it hard to follow when he got into the different "setups" in the old painting.  I've learned from what @dencal provided that a hard edge is "Hard edges indicate an abrupt or sharp transition from one color shape to another."  With my dog painting, there is a definite sharp transition in values between the darkness of the dog and the lighter green background.  I've also gotten a suggestion on getting the edges softer after the paint is dry to use some Luquin and blending a mid color between the dog and the sky (?) and putting that around the edges of the dog.  I feel that my current WIP meets the criteria of using hard edges.  I can go in and add some fur as @KingstonFineArt suggested even though the dog's coat is quite smooth and he doesn't have hair sticking out like a curly haired dog.  I'm puzzled.  If hard edges are called for with sharp contrast between colors, why do I even need to soften the edges at all on this dog painting?  To my eye, he doesn't look like a cutout that was glued to the canvas and really looks like my Earl.  Is this an indication of style, which was something else I heard about edges from one of Mark's "what's wrong wiht my painting" videos on YouTube.  I guess what I'm asking is aren't there some soft and haerd edges in this painting so far?  Do I really need to adjust the other areas to make them softer as well?

  • edited March 2021
    You're right, @A-Time-To-Paint. The will generally be hard and soft edges in a painting. I think the appearance of a hard edge in your painting is due to you having painted all the background in a high chroma green without a lot of variation in it. This makes Earl stand out more than he does in the refence photo and emphasizes the hard edge of his head. There is indeed a hard edge at the top of his head and that's what you've painted. I wouldn't change that. When you look at the reference photo in which the background is a mess of light and dark variation you don't get this hard edge feel because the eye is kept busy with all this variation immediately behind him. 

    Earl looks great now you've finished his snout. You really nailed the eyes. He looks like a gentle, relaxed and friendly dog. I wouldn't worry about the edges now. I think the painting works as it is.  :)
  • Thank you @tassieguy.  As a beginner, there is so much for me to learn.  It can get confusing with different input but also very educational.  Wading through things is part of the learning process and very much appreciate everyone who has responded to my call for help.  I've learned some things about edges that I had not known before and will most definitely keep hard, soft, and disappearing edges in all future paintings, something I'd not considered before.  
  • A_Time_To_Paint

    Just to keep you on edge.

    I posted this a few years ago but some great tips on edges.


    Bouncing off a comment by Rob about his dilemma of realism versus Impressionism (which I interpret in this context to mean realism vs painterly approaches to painting style) I happened on this 10 minute video by Fogarty.

    She uses a limited palette and her work comprises muted foggy interiors or exterior architecture.
    There are two takeaways in her video relating to edges. In paraphrase she found the brush too soft and the knife too hard for constructing the required edge variation. Karen then used strips of matting board as a soft knife and used these to good effect in forming quite a range of soft edge characteristics.

    This is a technique that offers some potential in landscapes and for still life and portraiture backgrounds.


  • Thanks @dencal.  I most definitely will be watching this video and seeing this artist's approach.  Many thanks for posting.  
  • @A_Time_To_Paint

    This is a smooth coated Black Lab I painted a number of years ago. Many edges. The contours has sharp and unsharp brushwork. The internal edges are varied. Using value and brush strokes defining planes and volume and how even a smooth coated dog can be piqued. This is The Champion OP.

    This is a long haired dog. Again contour edges are hard soft and lost. Internal planes and shapes defined by a color edges, value edge and lost edges. Both paintings are stylized and very illustrative.

    This is my dog Trout.

  • @dencal I’m going to retire all my sable brushes and just use mat board from now on.  😀. Karen Fogarty’s paintings look very mysterious but in an upbeat way.
  • @KingstonFineArt these are two very beautiful paintings of the two types of dogs.  Thanks for sharing.  Been working on my lab/beagle mix today and have added some fuzziness of fur around some of the edges.  It made a wonderful difference. Can't wait to share the finished version here. :)
  • Great pooch portrait, @A-Time-To-Paint. Turned out really well. Edges look really good now.  :)
  • Excellent painting.  Earl looks like a very happy guy.
  • Many thanks @tassieguy and @GTO,  He really is a very happy doggie :)
  • Nice job. You can't beat a good dog painting.
  • Thanks so much @KingstonFineArt.  You know what they say about children and dogs :)
  • Thank you to all who responded with your advice and encouragement.  I have redone Earl's portrait with a more neutral background of a blue/gray color.  I think this is an improvement.  Though the green was okay, I believe this one works better.  Opinions?

  • Now that's a dog portrait! This looks amazing, @A-Time-To-Paint:)
  • Thank you @tassieguy very much.  I've learned one thing from this:  Plan, plan, and plan some more before ever applying anything to the canvas.  Using photo editing software in the beginning is a great tool and a good way to see how the painting will look in the end before ever applying paint to a canvas.  Lesson learned.
  • I agree, @A-Time_To_Paint.

    I think that most of the art happens before paint even touches the canvas, It does in my case anyway. I need to know exactly where I'm going and how I'm going to get there before I start out. If I just leave things to chance and make it like a voyage of discovery the results are rarely good. I envy people who can just wing it and end up with a painting. Like you, I use image editing software so that everything is exactly in line with my vision for the painting before I start. Only then do I stretch and stain a canvas, etc. It's not really much different to spending a lot of time arranging items for a still life. It takes time. But it's time well spent.  :)
  • That is a great painting! Congrats to you @A_Time_To_Paint and to Earl! I’m glad I checked this thread out because I learned a lot just reading the comments and checking out the recommended links. 
  • Thank you so very much @HondoRW.  Earl and I appreciate that :)
Sign In or Register to comment.