Lesson #3: Tints and Shades

Part of the unit: Painting a Neighborhood Scene |


Why do artists use tints and shades?
Students will be able to:
Identify tints and shades in paintings
Mix tints and shades of primary colors
Students will understand that:
Tints and shades can be used to create a wide variety of light and dark colors.

xeroxed sheets with a nine box grid ("rule of thirds" diagram), Tempera paints: red, yellow, blue, black, and white, brushes, water cans, sponges


Ralph Fasanella's Happy and Bud Sevice Station, 1970


Display Fasanella's Happy and Bud Service Station, 1970.  Explain that Fasanella was a self-taught painter, born in the Bronx, who painted familiar neighborhoods.  Direct the students to look at the reproduction.

  • What colors do you see in this painting?  (chart responses)
  • How many different blues do you see?

Explain that artists mix paints to yield a wide variety of colors.  They add white to get a light color called a tint and black to get a dark color called a shade.

Challenge student to identify the tints and shades in the painting. 



On a large piece of drawing paper divided into nine box grid ("rule of thirds" diagram), the teacher should paint in the primary colors in the horizontal middle section.  The teacher should then demonstrate how to add white to create a tint of that color in the box above and black to create a shade in the box below. Review how to wash brushes in between color use. 


Distribute sheets with a nine box grid; tempera paint: red, yellow, blue, black, and white, brushes, water cans, sponges. Direct students to paint the center three boxes with the primary colors and to create tints in the box above and shades in the box below.

Display student work.  Ask students to notice the wide variety of tints and shades achieved by mixing.

  • Select a tint that is extremely light.  How did the student mix that color?
  • Select a shade that is extremely dark.  How did the student mix that color?
  • Why is it a good idea to mix your paints?

Ask students to cut out 10 swatches of green (orange or violet) from a magazine.  Glue the swatches in order from light to dark on white paper. 


Ask students to investigate the different ways that one color can appear by cutting out at least 10 examples of one color found in magazines and pasting them on one page.