Everything You Need to Know About Edges in Oil Painting

Ever since its first forms came to be in the 7th Century AD, oil painting has gone through millennia of evolution and refinement that span from materials to painting techniques. 

Coming a long way from the first works that Buddhist artists in Afghanistan created after blending pigments with oil, this form of painting is considered a prominent part of art as we know it today. From the Mona Lisa, The Persistence of Memory, The Night Watch, The Kiss, and Impression, Sunrise, the process in question has been used to create some of the finest artworks known to man.

Whether you’re a professional artist or someone with a budding amount of skill and passion for creating art, there’s no doubt that oil painting is something that you should learn and practice. There’s so much to learn as you hone your skills in the craft, and one crucial lesson is understanding edges. 

What Are Edges?

Although they may sound complicated or highly nuanced, edges are fairly simple to understand from a technique-focused perspective. Using them, of course, is an entirely different story.

Edges are the degrees of hardness or softness in transitions between different colors and values in an oil painting. Considered as one of the most advanced fixtures of the process, edges can be used in various ways, such as enhancing textures, portraying emotions, and communicating an artist’s perspective. 

With edge manipulation, you can equip yourself with a valuable tool that can help you take your paintings to the next level by: 

  • Leading the viewer's eye around the painting
  • Guiding a viewer to the focal point of a piece
  • Emphasizing or making certain areas more important
  • Making some areas less important
  • Preventing the eye from wandering away from the painting 

What makes edges so vital is that any eye looking at an oil painting won't automatically create the edges like real life. Through edging, you can have control over what you want the viewer to focus on. This direct communication with your audience means they can have an easier time seeing your intent, theme, or message.

How Are Edges Created?

Three forms of edges can be incorporated when painting with oil—each of which has its specific advantages:

  1. Hard edges
  2. Soft edges 
  3. Lost edges

When painting these edges, the most common way to do so is by blending two color shapes with a dry brush. The brush is used to gently work one color into the other. 

Of course, using these techniques in your paintings doesn’t only require the use of tools like filbert brushes, flat brushes, palette knives, and fingers. When you learn from experts in oil painting, you arm yourself with all the essential skills needed to create a beautiful work of art!

Fortunately, you can learn more about using edges in your paintings by watching the late E. John Robinson’s Oil painting lessons


As an integral component of oil painting, edges are a technique that will allow you to further elevate the overall structure, appearance, and finish of your artwork. Through edges, your painting can transcend and further elevate its impact. Once you start using hard, soft, and lost edges when creating your pieces, you’ll be able to see tremendous improvements in your work in no time! 

If you're looking for the best oil painting DVD lessons that you can hone your craft with, E John Robinson has left a legacy that you can learn from. Check out our wide range of available DVDs and place your order today!

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