Oil Painting Techniques to Create Soft And Hard Edges

The terminologies soft and hard edges when used in painting depict two variable ways that one can paint objects.

A hard edge means that the edge of the object painted defines in a clear-cut manner and there is a strong feeling of where the object ends. While on the other hand, a soft edge means that the object seems to disappear or blends into the surroundings.

Notably, this method of painting applies to all art media like penciling, painting, charcoal and pastels, in which painters use as a way to gain control over the edges.

There is a lot to talk about in edges, including lost edges, creating various edges and found edges. The most valuable tip that an artist needs to learn is to retain the softness of the edges until they are finished with the painting.

Reasons to retain soft edges

There are good reasons to maintain soft edges while painting, this is regardless of the fact that having a variety of edges creates excitement within a piece of art. Edges can be descriptive of the object you are painting and clearly define its character as either rough or smooth.

The quality of the edges is also a very important element in the paintings composition. A painter will use sharp edges to bring focus to an element and use soft edges to create transitions within a piece of art.

As much as it is important to be cautious with edges, sometimes a painter will make a mistake and create hard edges too early into the painting. This is very common when they are painting using oil paints and this makes it very difficult to recover the soft edges again.

Moreover, the reason that a novice painter needs to practice creating soft edges is to begin from the start and adjust the edges as they continue with the piece depending on the requirements.

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Role of edges

Soft edges are essential in creating the artwork’s viewpoint. When you want to create the feeling of depth or if you want to model a form, you would require soft edges. Soft edges create the feeling that the object is moving further away into the horizon beyond what the viewer can clearly see.

This effect makes it look like a three dimension object from the viewer’s point of sight. On the other hand, hard edges create a feeling that the elements have stopped and they do not continue into the horizon beyond the eyes view.

To understand this easily, visualize a life piece of art. When the object has a soft edge on the shoulders or face, this suggests that the object is round in shape and it will look like it is moving away from the viewer, while a hard edge makes the body appear two-dimensional.

Understanding your edges in oil painting

When you are painting, you need to understand clearly the kind of edges that you require with each stroke you paint on the panel. You will also need to create the desired edges with the brush, the color palette; Your fingers and all the tools you are using must bring out the desired edges.

This is because when you are painting, the edges will not be apparent as they appear in real life. Hence, you need to focus on what you want the viewer’s focal point to be and not what they want to see. Edge management in a painting is a valuable way in which you can help the viewer to the focal point of your artwork effortlessly.

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