Decorative Painting tutorial: how to highlight with drybrushing

Decorative Painting Tutorial: how to highlight with drybrushing

Written by marika

September 29, 2021

Are you sure the most important thing to do in painting is shading? Well… not only!
When we paint, we need to keep in mind the contrast between light and shade. This is why I wanted to do another Decorative Painting Tutorial and explain how to highlight with drybrushing.

Highlights are very important when we paint, because both shades and highlights, can help us giving a more realistic look to our paintings.

So, when we paint, we need to give the same importance to highlights too.

It doesn’t matter if we are painting an easy project (like Winter Trio Tags) or a more difficult one (like Believe in the Magic or Fall Lover), highlights are extremely important to complete our paintings. One reason is that the natural behaviour of our eye is to look the most light areas of elements, so we will always look the highlight first.

Highlights can be done in many ways, however, the most common are two: floating and drybrushing.
For the floating method, I suggest you have a look to the tutorial about how to shade by floating colors, because the way to use the brush is the same, but in case of highlighting, the colors are lighter than your basecoat.
Highlighting by drybrushing doesn’t require water, in fact… we use a dry brush!

There are many different brushes for drybrush, but they all have one thing in common: the bristles are quite hard, this is because the brush needs to be used dry and therefore it needs to have a good spring.
There are both crescent and flat brushes, or also round or pointed brushes. As I often say, for me brushes are like shoes… I personally always want to have more and more, and in general, as well as shoes, you need to try them!

I honestly work very well with the Mezzaluna brush by Dynasty, which comes in different sizes, and I change the size of the brush according to the area I want to highlight.
Regarding paints, I always use the DecoArt Americana acrylics and in my patterns, you can always find the exact value I used to highlight a specific element. By the way, in my instruction packets I usually suggest you highlight by floating or drybrushing; if I don’t write anything it means you can highlight with the technique you prefer.

Drybrushing is for sure faster than floating, it might seem easier, but it’s not… there are some things you need to keep in mind to have a nice drybrush otherwise you might have holes or blotches that are quite difficult to fix.

So, if you need some suggestions… check out the Decorative Painting Tutorial on how to highlight with drybrushing!

Let me know what you think about this technique and if you have any questions… I’m here to help!
Have fun painting! 😊
Ciao, Marika

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