Scumbling is a painting technique where a thin layer of color is applied with a dry brush and a soft touch to give a very broken color appearance. Opaque color is often used for this technique, rather than transparent color.
There are many uses for scumbling, including:
- Breaking up a background area to make it less monotonous
- Add highlights without blending the lower layers of paint
- If you want some of the lower layers of color to be exposed
Scumbling is most commonly thought of as an oil painting technique, but it can also be used with acrylic paints.
For this technique to be effective, paint should be applied with very little or no additional medium and with a very soft touch. The key is to have the paint break into the canvas without pulling or blending earlier layers of color. It is also important that you do not overdo it, as the effect would then lose its impact.