How to Paint Color Gradations

Color gradation is how you transition from one color to the next. Your painting is filled with color gradations. Some are sharp, with clear boundaries that delineate one object from another. Others, however, are smooth and subtle, building the color change gradually instead of all at once.

The nature of your color gradations will depend on what you’re trying to convey. As such, there are various techniques you can use when using color gradation in your painting. These include the following:

Blendingcolor gradation on blue sky

The easiest way to use color gradations in your painting is to blend one color into the next. This is typically used to develop smooth color transitions like you would see in a morning sky.

Intermediate Color

Another way to perform color gradations is to place an intermediate color in between the two colors you’re transitioning to and from. For example, if you want to transition from blue to yellow, you can place a bit of green in between to help smooth out the transition.

Broken Color

The broken color technique is most frequently used by Impressionist painters. For example, if you wanted to paint a lake, most techniques would have you use smooth blue tones with gradual transitions. However, with the broken color technique, you would paint with small dabs of different colors, such as blues, whites, greens, grays, etc.


Hatching is most often used in drawings rather than paintings. You draw parallel lines to darken an area. The closer together the lines are, the darker the area appears, and vice versa.


Layering is as it sounds. You place thin layers of paint on top of one another to create color gradations. The layers should be partially translucent.


Color gradations can also be created by varying the density of each color you use. You can do this by controlling the number of strokes, the amount of pressure, or the thickness of the paint for each color.

At Creative Ventures Gallery, we offer beginner paint classes that will help you better understand the concept of color gradation. To learn more, look through our selection of classes today!