Lesson #4: Creating Tints and Shades

Part of the unit: Painting a Cityscape |


Why are tints and shades necessary when painting?
Students will be able to:
Use tempera paint to create tints and shades
Students will understand that:
Artists use tints and shades to create contrast.

Tempera paint (assorted colors, black and white), brushes, palettes, water cans, xeroxed value charts (with 7 squares)


William Glackens' Central Park in Winter


Display William Glackens' Central Park in Winter. Ask students to point out the tints and shades seen in the painting.

  • How does the light source affect the tints and shades we see?
  • How would you create a tint?  a shade?
  • Why is it important to use tints and shades in a painting?

Each table should have tempera paint (one color, black, and white), brushes, palettes, and water cans. A xerox of the value chart should be given to each student.

The teacher should demonstrate making a value chart on large drawing paper divided into 7 squares. He/She should paint the center square with a color directly from a jar of tempera paint.  On a palette, the color should be mixed with white paint to make a tint. The first square to the left of the center square should be painted with this tint.  The teacher should then demonstrate how to mix two sequentially lighter tints to add to the chart in the next two squares.  The students should be directed to do the same on their xeroxed value charts.

The teacher should then demonstrate making shades. A bit of black paint should be added to the pure color on the palette. The square to the right of the center square should be painted with this shade.  The teacher should demonstrate how to mix two sequentially darker shades for the next two squares.

During the demonstration, paint management techniques should be reviewed. 

The students will fill in their value charts after watching each demonstration by the teacher. 

During the work period, the teacher should emphasize the importance of creating a gradual sequence of tints and shades to practice color mixing.

Students at each table should look at each other's value charts and make suggestions for changing the colors to make even steps from light to dark.  The teacher should select several pieces that demonstrate a gradual change from light to dark to display for the class. 

  • Why is it important to use tints and shades in a painting?

Students should consider how to use tints and shades when beginning their paintings during the next lession.