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How to Oil Paint - Layering by PhilipBohlmann How to Oil Paint - Layering by PhilipBohlmann
The piece I use in this tutorial isn't even done yet, but I've been dying to get this up for the last 2 days. It's a pretty simple beginner tutorial on layering oil paints. There are many different styles of painting, this tutorial outlines the style I end up using the most.

I hope this is well received, I would love to make more tutorials. Maybe one day I'll even buy a nice HD camera and make some youtube video tutorials.

Anyway, let me know if you like it. Spread the word!

Look for the finished piece in the next few weeks.

-Philip
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Given 2008-08-22
How to Oil Paint - Layering by =PhilipBohlmann is one of the best realism traditional painting tutorials I have seen in a long time, it is skilfully written and is very informative. ( Suggested by vertMB and Featured by znow-white )
:icondltrevino:
DLTrevino Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
"'Fat over Lean,' not the new Texas food pyramid."  lmao
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:icondublinia:
Dublinia Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Very straightforward and informative! Great!
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:iconsyvelli:
Syvelli Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is really helpful, as I'm about to start working with oil paints. Could you tell me the recommended amount of time I should let pass between working on layers?
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
Sorry for the late reply. It really varies with your technique. If your paints are not fully dry then the lower layers will muddy up the new layers. You can use this to your advantage however if you are doing some intricate blending. I would just start by letting the lower layers drying completely. Usually you will see them get a more dull sheen in a glancing light as they dry. You can also test them by touching a dry, clean brush and seeing if it sticks. As you start, I would just let the layers dry fully and then when you get more comfortable experiment with wet layers.

Cheers,
Philip
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:iconsyvelli:
Syvelli Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so so much, this helps me a great deal! :D
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:iconm0ny11:
M0NY11 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Good questions, any answer yet?
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:iconsyvelli:
Syvelli Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
So far, not yet.
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:icondesigning-my-life-x:
designing-my-life-x Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very helpful! Thanks! :)
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:iconadventwinter:
adventwinter Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. This makes me want to start oil painting. My friends bought me a set of oil colours [link] I have no idea how to get started or what I need to get started. Could someone help me, please?
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:icondeidarasempaipwnsall:
i want to try oil painting but i have no idea what to buy. any suggestions???
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2012
Just like "secretplanet" said, start with cheap stuff. I did most of my painting in college with brush sets came in 4 packs for $10-$15. I don't know too much about oil paint sets. I have always bought all of my tubes individually. I would definitely avoid "Hues" and any "Pthalo" pigments to start. Hues are too weak and if you try to mix them with non-hues they won't even show up. Pthalos are too strong, and they will overpower anything you mix with them. Honestly just to start I would try doing value paintings and leave the color out of it when you're just starting out. Get a cheap tube of each of these pigments to start...

Titanium White
Ivory Black
Van Dyke Brown
Raw Umber
($5-$10 each)

After you get some cheap brushes and paints go to Home Depot or a local hardware store/lumber yard and get some of this stuff...
-A small 1qt can of flat white latex primer (perfect substitute for gesso) ($10)
-A small foam paint roller for priming $5 or $6)
-A few small sheets of MDF (multiple density fiberboard) to paint on. Big places like Home Depot will sell MDF in small sheets for making cabinets but they will also cut them down to size for you at the store. (2ft x 4ft $4- $5)

Hope This helps!
-Philip
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:iconsecretplanet:
secretplanet Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
can i jump in? i'm not professional, but i love oil paints!
i started with a cheapo box of 12 tubes for $10, used the cheapest brushes around, & painted on board, which i primed with leftover wall paint. by the time you empty a tube, you know whether or not you like oil paints & you can replace the colours you use the most with better quality ones. same with the brushes! and there's non stinky solvent to clean brushes in now, although turpentine is still much cheaper!
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:iconluhi:
Luhi Featured By Owner May 10, 2011
TI amo
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:iconshaynahall:
shaynahall Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2011  Professional General Artist
This will be a great help... I love you for this!
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:icontobiusmckenzie:
TobiusMcKenzie Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2011  Student General Artist
This is really helpful! Thanks for doing this :D
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:icondacora:
Dacora Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is really helpful, I have been dying to get some routines and guidelines to make working more organized and disciplined. These kinds of basics are important ^^ Thanks a lot!
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:iconr-r-radikal:
r-r-radikal Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2010  Hobbyist
so informative. i tried an oil painting once - it was brutal - because no one told me about all the layering! thanks a ton for this, its so helpful. i'll definitely use it next time i try oils c:
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:iconbonny-lass:
Bonny-Lass Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
This has been really helpful - thanks! Just wondering, did you have to change brushes a lot, and how many brushes did you get through for this piece of you did?
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2010
Thanks for the nice comment. I use a few different kinds of brushes. I used a 1/2in Filbert a 1in flat and several small round brushes from 1/4in to 1/8in. I also had a few larger brushes for blocking in big areas of the underpainting ie: 2 and 3in flats.
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:iconsugarplumfairy6:
sugarplumfairy6 Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010
This is a great guide, thanks so much :)
I'm more inspired to do oil painting now and I used the layering technique which turned out really well! Thanks again ^^
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:iconsugarplumfairy6:
sugarplumfairy6 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010
Great help, thanks :)
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:iconsugarplumfairy6:
sugarplumfairy6 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2010
Great help, thanks :)
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:iconsephifire:
Sephifire Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2010
This is really helpful. I have been after learning how to use oils for awhile.
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2010
Thanks. I'm working on another one right now. Hopefully I'll have another finished tutorial in a few months.
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:iconkellin:
kellin Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I suppose I'm just mirroring what others have already said, but thank you very much for posting this. I'm a theatre artist who decided to try oils on a whim and this should serve as a great starting point. I especially like the way you break down the steps, because I am not accustomed to painting or even visual art in general.

Its unfortunate that your website has expired otherwise I'd certainly enjoy checking out your other works.
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:iconcindora:
Cindora Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2010
Thank you very much for this tutorial, I want to start with Oil and it was very helpful and different from other tutorials :heart:
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:icontheshizirl:
Theshizirl Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009
This really opened my eyes to proper oil layering. I want to get into this, but I am relieved because I thought I was doomed to attempt working with wet layers, resulting in smudging and unwanted mixing of colors.
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:iconinarigamer:
Inarigamer Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
helpful ^^
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:iconmasochisticheartache:
MasochisticHeartache Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2009  Student Photographer
This is amazing! Thank you so much for the pointers. I'm really looking forward to having a play around with my oils; you are very talented.
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:iconaura-boar:
aura-boar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2009
This is extremely useful, thank you so much! :) I usually use browns and white in my first underpaint, for my next painting I'll definitely try and use color.
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:icona-is-for-art:
a-is-for-art Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2009
thanks for making this, it's really helpful.
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:iconraynedancer16:
RayneDancer16 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2009
Wow. I am stunned. I feel so inept. Your paintings are amazing!
My problem is I work mostly in watercolors, so when I paint with oils, I can't wait for the layers to dry :( Anyway, your tutorial was very helpful, but please, please Please! Make more! I'm dying to see more of your techniques!
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2009
I absolutely will. I haven't even picked up a brush in a year and I wonder why I'm antsy all the time. I will make lot of tutorials in the near future.
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:iconsirielle:
Sirielle Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2009   Digital Artist
Thank yo so much for this introduction! :thanks: I've never painted on canvas, almost all of my images are digital and want to try real canvas one day. ATM I'm just browsing information to learn how to, what supplies I need etc. Your tutorial is really informative :thumbsup:
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:iconcrimzonlogic:
CrimzonLogic Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2009  Student General Artist
even my college painting instructor didn't tell me about an imprimatura. sounds helpful, i'll try it.
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:icontschudin:
tschudin Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2009
OH MY GOD, THANK YOU SO MUCH. YOU ARE THE BEST. I LOVE YOU...that might have gone a little too far.:XD:

Whatever, great tutorial. :)
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:icontannalein:
Tannalein Featured By Owner May 4, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a great tutorial, very helpful.

I've been taking some art classes privately and when they showed me how to paint with oils they never said anything about ground layer (and even I know, though I've never painted in oil before that you need to have a ground layer) and said that you have to start with highlights and add darker colors in layers, which is nearly impossible for me to pull off. It makes much more sense to me that you start with a base color and add shadows, lights and details afterwards. I don't think I'll be going to those classes any more.
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner May 14, 2009
Ha, thanks for the comment. Im glad it helped.

-Philip
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:iconvampiressartist:
Vampiressartist Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Very good tutorial! I'd love to try out oil paint sometime in the near future :)
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:iconprincesspepto:
princesspepto Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009
I will reiterate what so many before me have stated. This is truly a fantastic tutorial that I have most definitely benefited from, for that I thank you abundantly! Shortly I will be beginning my first oils class and I have already purchased my Liquin and Turpenoid (my teacher is allergic to Turpentine) and I am glad to see that the Liquin comes so highly recommended.

My question for you centers around they quality of brushes I should be using. Since I am still a full time student with limited free time should I be investing in high quality brushes or will the cheaper value packs of Loew-Cornell brushes be adequate for what I plan to do?
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2009
The price of the brushes really has nothing to do with their quality IMHO. I use very cheap brushes. At least they are cheap relative to other paint brushes. I have probably only spent about $200 on brushes in my life. My favorite brush is a small, ratty 1/4in round brush that I bought for about $5.

Cheap brushes will do fine. You can sometimes find decent brush sets at hobby stores for about $10. You would be well to do to find a set with a 1in flat and some small round brushes. They will be great for learning. Also on that note, if you are just learning there is no need to spend tons of money on brushes becuase you don't really know what kind of painter you want to be yet. You wouldn't go buy an $8000 digital camera for your 1st photography class only to find out that you like film camreas better, so you shouldn't go buy expensive paint brushes for your first painting class. Once you figure out how you like to paint then you can start to thing about upgrading to the brushes that fit your style most appropriately.

Cheap brushes have served me well and they will do you well too if you take proper care to clean and store them. The only compromise you make for cheap brushes is the build quality of them. They fall apart quickly and sometimes the brisltes fall out. That being said I still use the first $10 set of brushes I bought a decade ago.

Thank you for your wonderful comments! Good luck in your new class, I'm sure it will be a great experience.

-Philip
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:iconprincesspepto:
princesspepto Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2009
Thank you for your insight! I will keep in mind your wonderful and clear advice as I browse the overwhelming fields of brushes I will be confronted with.
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:iconrawr-froggy:
Rawr-Froggy Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2008
:D!!! so thats what I was doing wrong...do you think that more dilute paints, ie. adding watter to oil paints, would help to blend the colours as well, and overall create a generally nicer painting. I personally have never oil painted before and tried to paint a photo of my mom very un successfullly. Generally I got the whole face and shadin right but it was VERY thick and I had to use alot of paint. Now I was wondering if you're Supposed to add water ;D cause well I didnt and I used quite a bit of the globby mess. :3 and I couldnt mix colours well :[ so :D YEAH! RAR! thanks for the turtorial, I would suggest going more in detail about how to do what you've mentioned on the tut. and how to do brush strokes woulr be stellar ;D ktnx pce out~
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2008
Thanks for the reply, I'm glad it was helpful. I will definitely make more tutorials in the future.

Adding water will really do nothing since water will not mix with the paint. If you want to thin the paints you need to use a medium like Liquin made by Winsor and Newton. Don't use "Paint Thinner." Paint thinner is actually destructive to the paints and will wreck your paints.

-Philip
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:iconlizatinaliz:
lizatinaliz Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2008   Traditional Artist
Hey! I loved the tutorial! I've only done a few oil-paintings, but usually with one layer, and I've never used a primer... now I actually see the benefits in using it!

Just a quick question, though, with so many layers, what type of canvas would be most appropriate to use?

Once again, thanks!
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2008
Well it really doesn't matter what you paint on with respect to layers. I usually paint on a piece of MDF (Multiple Density Fiberboard) or Masonite, both of which can be bought at a Home Depot for a few dollars.

The main difference between canvas and board is the level of detail and the level of smooth blending that can be achieved. Since canvas has a texture to it, it acts kind of like a mini cheese grater scraping paint off your brush. Because of this, you can't get the same level of micro-detailing on a canvas that you can on a board that won't scrape paint off the brush. However, canvases will allow you to have smoother blends over large areas due to the paint slightly soaking into the canvas.

I would say try out a board if you haven't yet. You can get a piece of 24x26in board for about $2 where an equally sized, high quality canvas will cost you closer to $60-$70. Keep in mind though that painting on a board is quite different from painting on a canvas. Since there is no texture for the paint to grip, it will slide around a bit more and you won't need to use as much medium to properly thin the paint.

Hope this helps, good luck!
-Philip
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:iconlizatinaliz:
lizatinaliz Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2008   Traditional Artist
It certainly did help!
Thanks! :aww:
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:iconlykaiosisadora:
LykaiosIsadora Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2008
Oh I've been dreading trying out oils. So many negative things said about them >.<

Thanks for making the tutorial! I'll defiantly keep all the tips in mind when I finally get around to trying them out.
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:iconphilipbohlmann:
PhilipBohlmann Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2008
Oils are awesome. Once you get used to them they're incredibly flexible and forgiving. The only downside I can think of is that they're expensive, but oil paintings usually sell for more than acrylics or watercolors.

-Philip
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:iconlykaiosisadora:
LykaiosIsadora Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2008
Oh yeah. I dread it but wanna try none-the-less. Only reason why I haven't yet is because of the cost >.<

xD Glad I've found one person who likes 'em plenty.
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