Since the iconic Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889 in Paris, France, to commemorate the French Revolution, the 984-foot tall tower has been painted six times, each a different shade of brown. Regardless of whether or not you are a Francophile or even a practiced artist, your can paint your own depiction of the Eiffel Tower using a basic tracing technique and acrylic paint.
Find a clear photo or picture of the Eiffel Tower. Find one which presents a clear perspective of the tower. Choose the picture that you want to imitate in your painting. Cut out the picture so that it is on a separate single sheet. Aim to have a picture that is slightly smaller than the piece of heavy weight paper that you are using.
Tape the picture to a window at chest height. Tape your piece of heavy weight paper over the picture. Light from the window will shine through the picture, making it possible to see the tower through the paper.
Trace the outline of the tower onto the paper using a .07 pencil. Make quick movements with your hand. Include all aspects of the tower, including lines where the sun hits and changes the colors, the shadow lines on the ground beneath the tower. Mark these with dotted lines.
Remove the paper and the drawing of the Eiffel Tower from the window. Use a freehand sketching technique, which entails drawing without a guide, to further modify the shape of the Eiffel Tower and the surrounding grounds. Use a clean eraser to erase any deviant pencil lines.
Look at the picture of the Eiffel Tower to decide which colors to use. Either use colors that are identical to those in the picture you are emulating, or choose colors to replace those in the picture to give your painting a more whimsical look. For instance, choose to replace dark green with dark purple or teal.
Set up your paints in a color pallet of basic colors to use to get the full spectrum of the color wheel. Gather the paint brushes you will use. Loosen the paint onto the brush using the water by dipping your paint brush into a bucket or cup of water close to you. Dab a little paint onto scratch paper to test the thickness.
Paint the sky and grounds first, using watery paints. Either make the sky and background as is depicted in the picture, or come up with a more whimsical sky using soft pastels and whites.
Let the paint dry. At this point, you should still be able to see the pencil strokes indicating where the tower is. Dip your paint brush in a dark color that will be the foundation of the Eiffel Tower, choosing either a dark brown or charcoal gray.
Make your first strokes onto the tower by making the four base legs. Hold the brush like a pencil to control your movements. Then, use the criss-cross technique to paint all of the small iron steel pieces that make up the tower. Make each piece by making an "x" shape. Start at the top right of the "x" and using the flat of the brush, pull the stroke toward you, widening the stroke as you move down.
Turn your hand over so your palm is toward you and the brush is flipped, and going from the top and moving down, complete the "x". Use this stroke to fill in the bottom half of the tower. As you near the top of the tower, use the side of the brush or a smaller brush.
When this dries, shadow the ground under the tower using a wider, flat brush. Based on the color blocks noted with dotted line during the tracing process, use other colors to indicate shadowing and highlights on the tower.
Fill in the sky that peaks through the tower using a small paint brush. Give detail to the sky and grounds with darker or lighter colors. Paint details such as clouds, flowers or small shadows of people standing around or under the Eiffel Tower last.
Tips & Warnings
- Control the amount of water you use by testing on a sheet of paper first.
- Acrylic paint dries fast. Paint quickly or consider using a retarder or acrylic glazing liquid to keep the paint wet while you work.
- If you use a lot of water, the paint may dart all across the paper. Acrylic paints are generally of medium viscosity so be spare with the water you use to prevent running.
- "Oracle ThinkQuest: The Eiffel Tower"
- "Drawing and sketching" Stan Smith; 2000
- "Acrylic Painting for Dummies"; Colette Pitcher; 2009
- Painting Ideas and Techniques: Acrylic Painting Techniques
- NA/AbleStock.com/Getty Images