Technique: Beginners

The 3x3x3  Technique:

1.  For DRAWING:  

Divide the overall picture/object into 3 (or 4)simple shapes.  Continue breaking these shape further by divide each one to another 3 (or 4) smaller shape.  Repeat as needed.

2.  For Block-in:  

Start painting with just 3 piles of values (use for each major object of your painting.  You would mix 3 different value piles for the shirt,hair..and so on.


Even though we started with just 3 color values, there are enough to start your painting.  By mixing these 3 piles of paint values in combination, you now have at least 5 values to paint from. Adding the darkest dark and highlight, you now have 7. Alter the color temperature by adding tiny amount of blue or green (or gray) to any pile of paint to get the same value but slightly cooler tone. Try the same with red/yellow ochre to get the warmer tone of the same value.

3.  For Paint Application:  

In order to build up a decent amount of paint on your work, you must NOT swirl your brush around non-purposefully (and I’ve seen a lot of people keep doing it.  Blending is fine, as long as you know why & how you move your brush).  Keep the above value separate with each stroke.  Apply no more than 3 strokes per loading.  In order to do this effectively, you must think about the shape & size the plane you wish to paint before touching your picture.  Load the brush with enough paint, then apply 3 separate stroke to achieve that shape.  Wipe the brush off and repeat.

Organize my way of thinking like this simply my painting process.

  1. First, use only 3-4 values to build simple shapes.
  2. Then, use the intermediate values to break these shapes to planes.
  3. Next, break these planes into many more by alter their color temperature. Repeat if needed.

Thank you

Khanh N. Huynh, MD

2 comments on “Technique: Beginners

  1. Hi, I just watched your Nude In Zorn Palette. I really appreciate you simplifying the process and the palette. And the result is great. You don’t over blend and do keep a painterly touch, which gives freshness to the finished work. Could you tell me which colours you mixed to get the 3 initial piles 1, 2 and 3. I have another question : my skin tones have a whitish, chalky finish that I don’t like. I am right now painting a self portrait, but I keep wiping the face out, because what I end up with looks like a floury mask ! Any tips or advice ? Should I use zinc white instead of Titanium. Thanks in advance and for sharing your work and method. Warmly Dominique (from Canada)

    • Hi, Dominque
      Thank you for your interest in my paintings and processes. I don’t exactly remember how I mixed the initial piles of colors. However, my process has not changed much since that video was made. So, I guess they’re titanium white, alizarin permanent and transparent oxide red. I don’t use Zinc White that much but I believe it is a little more transparent then titanium white. I think that the chalky finish result of a certain section is not result from the kind of paint but rather from too few color planes you put around it. Do you have a website or FB account with these images that you’re working on. I cannot give advice to you unless I see them.

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