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Interior Decorating>> Faux >>> Grisaille

Grisaille basically means shadow, which is in effect what you want to imply. It is the earliest form of trompe l'oeil. Different shades applied systematically will give a 3-dimensional effect.
The easiest way to see this is to look at the buttons in a computer application. They are generally made up of three shades of one color; dark, medium and light. You know there are three colors drawn on a flat surface yet your eye still cannot shake off the 3D effect. This is the principle you apply when doing grisaille. The most important thing is keep true to the direction of light you originally chose. Used expertly grisaille can be the most stunning of form of trompe l'oeil.

Choosing direction of light

From the left or right is ideal for imitation door or window frames.2 color grisaille
From the top is ideal for things like imitation dado rails or skirtings.
From underneath is ideal for imitation cornice and coving.
From the diagonal (like the computer buttons) is ideal for imitation panels on doors, walls etc.
On the right is basic grisaille using only light and dark gray.
Beginning grisaille.

If you haven't tried it before find a piece of the item you want to imitate; e.g. a bit of moulded architrave or a piece of cornice or skirting.

A photograph or drawing will do but something real is easier to work with.

Using a spirit level draw your main lines in pencil.

Use fitches and lining brushes for drawing lines.

The easiest way to draw straight lines on a wall is to hold a length of wood (not more than a meter long) against the wall and let the brush run along it. A ruler is too thin; it is better if the wood is at least an inch thick.

grisaille moulded border After you have painted in the lines, blur them with a soft, damp paint brush before the paint dries.

Working with straight lines is best to start with and don't be afraid to use 5 or 6 shades, keeping to a single colour until you are more confident.

It is easier to use ordinary matt emulsion to begin with. It dries quickly and you can overpaint often to get the right look. Oil paints are slow to dry and more likely to run and spoil the effect.

After using water-based paints it is a good idea to coat with a matt varnish surfaces which will come into contact with people.

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