OCAD Studio: Limited Palette Portrait in Oils Part 4

Refining the Colours

After successfully completing the previous stages, you will have all the major elements of your portrait blocked in. However, you may find that the colours are more grey than you would like, so the next step will be to make adjustments, adding chroma and shifting the hues where necessary. This will result in an ideal foundation for smoothing out forms and adding detail in the next two lessons.





    • Small canvas or a panel prepared for painting
    • 2-3 flat brushes (¼-1 inch wide)
    • 2 small pointed brushes
    • Piece of soft charcoal


  • Titanium White Oil Paint
  • Cadmium Red Oil Paint
  • Yellow Ochre Oil Paint
  • Ivory Black Oil Paint


  • Palette
  • Easel
  • Thinner (I recommend odourless mineral spirits (OMS))
  • Linseed Oil
  • Painting rag or kitchen paper towel for wiping back and cleaning




  1. Look at the colours in your painting –  they will likely look greyer and deader than you would want.
  2. Using the values and forms established in the previous lesson, mix new colours to adjust the hue and chroma where necessary. This will likely require you to use pure mixtures of yellow ochre, cadmium red and white.
  3. It shouldn’t take long to make these adjustments because you will keep the forms and shapes developed in the previous lessons. Simply add new patches of colour where necessary.
    1. Thinly painting a darker colour over a lighter section of the painting is a glaze – this will result in a warmer colour.
    2. Conversely – painting a lighter colour over a darker section of the painting is a scumble – this will enhance the coolness of the colour.
  4. If the opportunity presents itself, you can add details and smoother transitions but you don’t have to. Your primary concern is making sure the colour and chroma/saturation is correct in the portrait.
  5. When you’re happy with how everything looks, leave the painting to dry completely

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