How to make things look round and real

How to make things look round and real

by Erin Barber
(Spokane, WA)

Hi! I love looking at your photorealistic paintings and in my beginning painting class we are doing photorealistic paintings for our first project. I have become extremely frustrated with mine. My painting is of a couple desserts in aluminum tins with Cool Whip and a spoon. My biggest problem has been the tins. My teacher says it is about "painting shapes" but I do that and it looks bad - it doesn't look real. I am trying to get it right but I am really confused as to how to go about it. Any advice would be really appreciated, I feel like a failure at this.

Thanks so much,

Erin Barber
Eastern Washington University Student

response to question

Hi Erin,

First of all, don't be so hard on yourself! Photorealism is hard to achieve for artists at any level, let alone beginners, so don't feel bad if you can't get it right the first time. It took me years of trial and error to be able to paint photorealistically. It takes practice, patience and persistence, but if you stick with it, you will notice improvement the more you paint.

My best advice is for you to paint what you see. Try not to get caught up in thinking, "I am painting a tin," because then your brain will kick in and try to tell you what a tin "should" look like. Instead, look closely at your reference image and notice the colors and shapes (as your teacher says). Try to paint those colors and shapes exactly as you seen them. Observation is key if you want your paintings to look real.

There is a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards that teaches people how to draw what they see, instead of what they think they see. Although this book focuses on drawing, the concepts and exercises can help free the way you approach art-making and impact your painting as well.

One last piece of advice I can give about painting photorealistically is to stress how important it is to transfer the image accurately, because the image transfer will set the blueprint for how the painting will turn out. On my site I discuss 3 main ways to transfer the image: using an art projector, using the grid method, and using transfer paper.

Hope that helps. Try not to get discouraged - just enjoy the process as much as you can! Happy Painting!


Comments for How to make things look round and real

Click here to add your own comments

Dec 10, 2010
Tips for Drawing Round Objects
by: S.A.Kumar, India

While drawing round objects, perspective should be kept in mind.

When colouring the edges of round objects, merge with the surroundings.

Reflections of surrounding objects also add to the form of round objects.

Oct 25, 2011
Acrylic on porcelain
by: zillo-gullu

I've been reading some of your advice and they seem like pretty experienced responses, but I do have a question myself.

I want to know if it is possible to varnish acrylic that has been painted over porcelain or ceramic,and would it still have the shine and protect the acrylic...

zg. Thank you.

Nov 02, 2011
Varnishing acrylic painted on porcelain or ceramic
by: Thaneeya

Hi ZG,

Great question! I'm not entirely sure of the answer as I haven't done this myself. If the porcelain or ceramic already has a glaze, I would worry that the varnish would simply bead off and not adhere to the surface. If the ceramic has not been fired, then varnish might work, but again it's not my area of expertise.

You could ask your question in the Acrylic forum at The Art Colony where someone who has experience with painting acrylics on porcelain or ceramic might be able to chime in:

Best of luck with it!

Nov 03, 2011
acrylic on porcelain
by: zg

thank you for your response.
ive done a little experiment and it didnt turn out as wonderful as i expected.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Acrylic Painting Techniques and Tips.

Draw Groovy, a fun new step-by-step drawing book by Thaneeya McArdle, to be published by F+W Media

Buy Draw Groovy from Barnes and Noble Buy Amazon Button Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Subscribe to Artspeak!

Artspeak is a free e-newsletter from Art is Fun!

Sent once a month at most, Artspeak keeps you up to date with all the latest articles & tutorials on Art is Fun, and shares inspiring & informative content from our sister site, The Art Colony.





Don't worry -- your e-mail address is 100% secure.

I promise to use it only to send you Artspeak.

I'm sure you will love every issue, but you can easily opt-out at any time.


Join the Art Colony!

how to draw