How Do You Use The Glazing Technique In An Oil Painting?

Different artists prefer working with different mediums. While some enjoy the simplicity of acrylics, others enjoy the versatility of oil paints. The brushes, paints, mediums, and other art supplies you use can make or break a painting. However, in the case of oil paintings, the technique is just as significant.  

If you are new to oil paints and looking for new techniques to learn, glazing is a superb place to start. Oil painters use this method to produce a transparent effect on their paintings. So, when you use this technique, you can vary the colors of your art piece and enhance its vibrancy. Besides, if your painting looks flat, you can incorporate some depth and form. So, the brightness and contrast in your artwork maintain a proper balance. 

How Can You Glaze Your Oil Painting?

To create a transparent effect or glaze on your oil painting, layer a single pigment. Then, when you cover the canvas with one coat of paint, allow it to harden before applying the next. This way, the shiny oil film will remain separate from the layer of paint underneath. Thus, each new layer shifts the hue of the bottom ones. 

You can use the glazing technique in every layer of your artwork. Of course, that will vary the colors ever so slowly in each step. But if this is not your preferred style, you can glaze your painting later too. Doing so will help alter the hues and contrast of the artwork. 

So, by using the glazing oil painting technique, you can generate discreet shifts in the color saturation and temperature, value, and chroma. Typically applying a coat of paint over another hides the bottom one. But with the help of this method, you enhance the layers underneath. 

As the light travels through the distinct transparent layers, you will observe an overall beautiful hue. Thus, you optically mix your colors directly on the canvas, using the painting itself as a palette. 

When you apply this technique, you will find that the luminosity of the colors increases by a few folds. If you glaze your painting multiple times, it will appear to glow from inside. Apart from brightness, the glazing oil painting technique also increases the depth of shadows. That is because every new layer deepens the hue of the darker areas. 

Where Should You Apply the Glaze?

Glazing an entire painting is an uncommon practice. Instead, it is more of a target-based technique. That means you can select a few small areas to enhance their hues. In addition, you can create specific details in spots, which would not be feasible otherwise. 

For instance, if you are painting a human figure, you could use the glazing oil painting technique to warm up the skin tone. In addition, deepening the shadows is also possible with the help of this method.

If you want to blur out the details of a specific part of your painting, you can do so by glazing. So, you have to be careful about where you use the glaze. Start with small sections to get the most precise results. 

What Art Supplies Do You Need for Glazing?

You already know that the glazing oil painting technique helps generate a glossy effect on your painting. So, when you are preparing a glaze, you have to select a transparent pigment. 

For instance, a tube of ultramarine blue can work well for this purpose. However, you cannot use it as it is. Instead, you have to mix it with a medium to thin it out and make it more transparent. 

  • Mediums For Glazing

From the above, you can conclude that the medium you use will affect the quality of the glaze. Different such oil mediums are available in the market. The ones made out of linseed oil, damar resin, and similar ingredients make the paint thin, shiny, and transparent. 

When glazing, you must follow the fat over lean rule. That means the more lean paint should go below the fatter one. So, after mixing the pigment with turpentine or spike lavender oil, you must ensure the layers underneath are more diluted.

Glazing works fine without a medium as long as your oil is glossy enough. When you compare turpentine and spike lavender oil, the latter is shinier than the former. So, most artists prefer to use oil of spike lavender.

You might have to do some trial and error to find the correct medium for your glaze. But it is not the only parameter that determines its quality. The transparency of your pigments also makes a world of difference. The more transparent they are, the more appropriate they will be for glazing.

  • Pigments For Glazing

Any pigment which is transparent works well for glazing. Semi-transparent paints mixed in with a lot of mediums can also do the same. Such colors include madder lake, organic yellow lake, natural ultramarine, carmine, Verdigris, indigo, et cetera. 

The information about the transparency or opacity of any paint is typically present on its tube. So, make sure you check it out before buying. 

How Can You Prepare a Glaze for Your Painting? 

Artists have been trying out different glazing recipes for centuries. You can use any one of these tried and tested formulations to make your glaze. All you have to do is follow three simple rules.

  • Keep the resulting mixture at a runny consistency.
  • Make sure the blend is transparent.
  • Only add a small quantity of pigment in the beginning. 
  • Follow the fat over lean rule.

You can mix in more pigment later on if the hue is too light for your liking. You can also thin it out if it is too intense. 

Here are a few prevalent glazing recipes created based on the above rules. 

  • Standard Glazing

First, mix turpentine or spike lavender oil and cold-pressed linseed oil in a 1:2 ratio. Then, add the transparent pigment of your choice. That will yield you a standard glaze that you can use in your painting.

  • Ultra-glossy Glazing

Combine turpentine or spike lavender oil and stand oil in a 1:2 ratio. Then, mix in small quantities of transparent pigment until you find your desired hue. 

  • No Solvent Glazing

This one is pretty easy to make. Add some transparent pigment to a fixed volume of cold-pressed linseed oil. And voila! Your glaze is ready. 

  • Resin Glazing

In a container, take damar resin, refined linseed oil, and turpentine or spike lavender oil in a 1:2:5 ratio. Mix them thoroughly before adding the transparent pigment. The additional ingredient helps the glaze stick better. Besides, it stops the oil from beading up and provides strength. 

Although all the glazes mentioned above are pretty easy to make, you can find their premixed versions in the market. So, you can try those out as well!

How Can You Layer the Glaze?

For the glaze to have its desired effect, it has to stick to the painting. That is why the underpainting has to be perfectly dry. Once you are sure of this, you can start applying the first coat. Use a soft brush to spread it in the areas you want. 

Make sure you apply the glaze as thin as possible. If you feel like you have put too much on, remove the excess using a cloth. That will leave behind uneven, light patches, which you can cover up later. 

As mentioned before, you, of course, also have to abide by the fat over lean rule during application. 

When you are layering the glaze, you have to imagine the outcome beforehand. This intuition is tough to develop, especially for new oil painters. However, you will soon be able to do it with practice. 

How Can You Alter Colors Using Glaze?

Glazing is an excellent technique for subtly warming up and cooling down colors. With this method, it is also possible to change color profiles up to a considerable extent. 

To obtain your desired results, you have to pick the color wisely. Glazing impacts the outcome of the painting on a layer-by-layer basis. So, it is best to use pigments close to the hues already present in the underpainting. 

Start with the lighter areas of your painting. Use the glaze to highlight the dull spots. Next, apply a few coats of glaze on any pure white regions to create some depth. Also, use it to smoothen out sharp gradients and generate contrast by blurring.

Once you finish, move on to the darker regions. Deepen out the shadows to create higher contrast. If you want to darken a hue, apply a complementary pigment on top. You will get better output with the help of this method than you would by using pure black. 


When you are working with oil paintings, there are numerous techniques for you to use. Among these, the glazing oil painting technique is helpful for artists. However, by now, you must know how it works and how you can use it to enhance your paintings.

Experimenting with various mediums, pigments, and recipes will help you create the glaze that works for you. The guidelines mentioned in this article should assist you in this process. Following a similar approach during the application process will also help you get the best possible outcome. 

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