Lions at the Melbourne Zoo.

Traditional Grisaille Oil Painting technique


For this Big Cat painting, I chose to paint this piece using the traditional old masters grisaille style. By doing this it will give me more control over the finished piece.

The painting below is the first grey scale stage of this oil painting.

I generally start my grisaille oil paintings with a rough sketch, and use oil paint thinned with either liquin or odourless turps to apply thin washes to build up the grey areas.


The Greys I use are based on 10 different values.

Ranging from Black to White, where the middle value "5", uses an equal amount of both black and white oil paint.

Title: Lions at the Melbourne Zoo.

Medium used: oil paint.

Size: 24"x36" or (60.9cmx 90.4 cm)




After letting the first stage of this grisaille under painting dry, I then proceeded to add more detail where it was needed, and correct the grey values so they will balance correctly.


Then I'll leave it for a few days, before I start to add the oil colour glazes.




The lions have there first layer, of colour glaze applied see the oil below.


I'm using Liquol as the thinning medium for the oil paint, this speeds up the drying process of the painting, and will generally dry overnight, so you will be able to continue with your oil painting, the very next day.




At this stage the oil painting is now coming along nicely,


There is still one layer of oil colour to be applied, plus the muzzles on the lions needs to be darkened, and whiskers added etc.As you can see, I've added another colour glaze, and worked on the eyes, ears, etc of the lions.



A close up showing one of the lion’s eyes.


This shows the very fine brush strokes used in my oil painting, it almost has a soft velvet look about it.



As you can see below in my final painting of the lions, using the old masters grisaille method of painting is very time consuming.

Excellent results can be achieved with the completed oil painting; you must spend a lot of time paying attention to detail. Then the results will speak for themselves.


I hope you enjoyed this quick grisaille tutorial; this old masters method of painting is becoming lost, and I hope those of you who dabble with oils give it a try.


Title: Lions at the Melbourne Zoo.

Medium used: oil paint.

Size: 24"x36" or (60.9cmx 90.4 cm)



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