|Oil Techniqes for Teeth|
- Allowing generalisations about teeth to leak into the portrait painting, such as the following: All teeth are square in shape, the gaps between the teeth are black and equal in width and all teeth emerge from red gums in equal measure from the top and bottom of the mouth.
- Using only white to represent the enamel colour of teeth and then darkening the colour with black or grey.
- Treating teeth as separate entities to the rest of the portrait.
- Painting teeth as equal in size and shape
- Not altering the tone or colour of each tooth, but using the same hue for each, resulting in flat-looking teeth.
- Forgetting to check the photographic reference when painting teeth.
The following tips on painting teeth will help contribute to the overall quality of the portrait painting and create a more desirable focal point along with the eyes.
- Teeth are rarely just white but other pale hues. The colour of teeth can vary from ivory to tea-coloured. Even teeth within the same mouth will often vary in colour, whether locally or through shadows. Look out for blues, browns, violets and beiges in teeth.
- Look out for shadows on various areas of the teeth, such as that cast from the upper lip and where the back teeth retreat into the mouth. Shading will also define the shape of each tooth, particularly where the edges round off.
- Take notice of the different shapes and sizes of teeth. The bottom teeth are often a little narrower than the upper teeth. The two front incisors will often be the most prominent. If necessary, count the number of teeth in view on the photograph and echo this in the painting.
- The colour of gums is often subtle rather than bright red. The divisions between teeth and gums are also soft and require a little blending to prevent harsh lines from drawing the eye. Shadows will often darken the gums almost to black. Highlights can often be found on gums too, which provides a great opportunity for the artist to make the gums look more convincing.
Techniques for Painting Teeth
Fine sable brushes are crucial when painting detail around teeth. Start from the pale colours and work to the darks. This will prevent a neighbouring colour from contaminating the pale hues of teeth. Half-close the eyes to gauge the tonal value of teeth. Avoid loading the brush with too much paint or this will make the detail hard to manage. Wipe off excess paint onto a rag and mix a little linseed oil into the paint for the detail. Don’t use black to express outlines and dark areas. Instead, introduce a little violet into the pale colour and blend any gradations in shades. Apply the darkest areas and highlights last. If a mistake is made, blot the paint off or soften it with a clean sable.
The Colour of Teeth
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