Virtual Art Academy
Imprimatura 1

Imprimatura

What is an imprimatura?

The imprimatura helps you judge values better, and can also provide a base for optical color mixing effects.

How to do it

imprimatura

Mix black with a little phthalo blue together with liquin or with a mixture of 80% dammar varnish 28% turpentine and very small amount (2%) of linseed oil (to prevent cracking).

The liquin makes the imprimatura dry quickly. Cover the canvas thinly, scrubbing the paint into the surface so that you end up with a transparent layer of a value of around six or seven (on the Munsell scale).

Color of imprimatura

Imprimatura 2

I use a cool blue gray imprimatura because:

  • it often approximates to a sky color, which is another reason I like to use this imprimatura so I automatically have my sky in place when I start.
  • it helps me more easily judge color.

Imprimatura 3

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