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Art Lessons

How to Paint Clear Glass

Techniques for Painting Textures

101 Textures in Oil & Acrylic features step-by-step instructions for mastering a variety of the most common surfaces, including sand, water, metals, foliage, wood, bark, fabrics, stone, grass, and many more. This lesson covers the steps for how to paint clear glass.

Step One

For clear glass, start with a wash of ultramarine blue, a touch of alizarin crimson, and Payne's gray. Thin down this mixture to a medium-value wash. Use a large, soft flat brush to quickly lay in the midtones using long strokes that follow the contour of the glass. Note: If you would like to eliminate drying time in the early stages of an oil painting, you can always paint your first layers with acrylic, then add oils on top of them. However, you can't paint acrylics over oils.

how to paint glass 1

Step Two

Before you move on to the lighter values and reflections of the glass, create a dark background that will contrast with these details. Various mixtures of black, white, and ultramarine blue are perfect for the neutral blue-grays of this glass. Thin your mixtures and use a 1/2-inch flat brush to sweep smooth color onto your surface in long, broad strokes that follow the curves of the glass. Retrace your marks to knock down the brushstrokes to achieve clean, blended edges that recede into the darker background.

how to paint clear glass

Step Three

The next step to creativing believable clear glass is to focus on adding more reflections. Glass is purely the sum of its reflections, which respond to the surrounding environment. Any colors that are nearby or behind will reflect in the glass. Mix brighter versions of your background colors and thin them to create semi-transparent glazes. When painted over the glass surface, these semi-glazes will allow the underlying colors to show through. Study the reflections in your glass and use a 1/2-inch or 1/4-inch flat brush to capture them with long, smooth strokes that originate at the top edge of the glass.

how to paint clear glass 3

Step Four

After all your previous layers dry, add more white to your colors and stroke in a few stronger, more opaque reflections. A few well-placed dabs of dramatic color will also add to the reflective quality of the glass.

  painting clear glass 4

All images and text excerpted from 101 Textures in Oil & Acrylic

What tips have you learned for painting clear glass?

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Meryl Streep

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