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Lesson 11

How to Paint Jewels

Gael Stirler


Jewels are found in manuscripts in borders and in the jewelry worn by figures in the miniatures. They look impressive and very difficult but in reality they are quite easy to paint. Follow these simple steps and you, too, will impress people with lovely gems. Click the picture to open a printable handout.

Transparent CabsFor purposes of teaching, I am assuming that the light is coming from above and slightly to the left. Adjust your shadows and highlights for the location of the light in your work.

1. Draw a circle or an oval and fill it with a strong, pure color like ruby red, sapphire blue, or emerald green.

2. Before it completely dries touch it with a clean wet brush and pull up a little color on the bottom side of the jewel. You can also dab with a paper towel to remove color.

3. Darken the top edge of the cab (the edge facing the light.) This reversal of positions of the light and dark areas in relation to the light is what gives the cab its transparency. Give the cab a little shadow on the side away from the light source.

4. With a very clean brush and pure white paint (preferably right out of the tube) make one single dot for a highlight in the upper quadrent on the border between the dark and midtone. If you have several cabs, the dot should be in exactly the same location on each cab.

Transparent Faceted StonesThe light is coming from above left. Historical faceted stones had a minimum of facets. Rose, pear, marquis, and other fancy cuts are relatively modern.

1. Draw a square, rectangle, or hexegon. Paint a medium tone of a jeweltone color on two or three sides.

2. Paint the top face and let the paint overlap the side facets to create a little darker edge. Lift off a little color in the center of the main face.

3. Darken the top facet and part of one side facet. Draw thin lines across the main face with the dark color.

4. Add pure white highlights to the the sharp edges of the facets.

PearlsPearls and beads are very easy to paint. The idea is to make it look sphereical instead of hemispherical like a cab. This is done by adding a highlight around the edge the pearl.

1. draw a circle. Paint the circle with a medium grey, pink, pale green or other pearly color. Leave a little white around the edge.

2. With a darker, greyer shade of the same color draw a "C" on the pearl with the open part of the "C" facing the light. Add a little shadow under the pearl. Since the light is coming from above the shadow is underneath.

3. With a very clean brush and pure white paint add a dot in the center of the pearl and a second smaller dot halfway between the top and the edge facing the light. Paint a very thin highlight around the edge of the pearl for the reflection from below.

Opaque Marbled CabsOpaque stones are even more enticing when they have a little marbling or a slightly irregular surface. The lighter part of the stone faces the light on opaque stones and faces away from the light on transparent stones. The light in this example is above and slightly to the right.

1. Draw a slightly irregular oval and fill it with the base color.

2. Dampen part of the stone facing the light with a wet brush and lift off the excess color. You can darken the shadows a little if there isn't enough contrast.

Scroll with jewels in border3. Add a shadow to the area outside the stone away from the light. Draw random lines on the surface to indicate the marbling. Make the lines sort of straight on the light area then curve sharply downward in the dark area simulating the way the lines follow the curved surface of the stone. This helps create the illusion.

4. Finally add an irregular highlight with white paint following the top edge between the light and dark base color on the sides facing the light.

Here is an example of a scroll with jewels. Each jewel has a little gold bezel around it, too.

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Unless otherwise noted all art is the work of Gael Stirler.
AKA Mistress Dairine mor o' hUigin, OL


This page was last updated Monday, 16-Mar-2009 15:36:12 CDT