Your paintings look muddy? Here are common mistakes that you could be making that are causing that problem.
1) NOT CHANGING THE HUE WHEN YOU SHADE AND HIGHLIGHT. This is an easy way to make your painting look muddy. A quick fix for this is changing the hue as you go. But this cannot be random. The hue of the highlight and the hue of the shadow must go in opposite directions from your base colour.y You can see in the example, in the heart shaped bush I went with warm lights, so my shadows went to the opposite direction of the color wheel torwards colors. In the nest shaped bush, I chose a warm green as my shadow so I went with a cool blue highlight. This is game changing. It would make your illustrations have more dimension. If you are working with traditional supplies, the same rules apply, also try changing the brush or cleaning it properly before shading and highlighting.
2) OVERBLENDING/USING AIRBRUSHES. Airbrushes are cool. They have their purpose. But they are very bad for things like showing form. Shading with the airbrush will make your work lose its edges and everything would looks so overblended. So how do you fix this? In my opinion, delete the airbrush tool from your library. You must learn how to blend with hard edged brushes. There is no getting around this. If you are working traditionally, you must avoid overblending. Let some of the brush work show through in the final product, have hard edges. Believe it or not, there are as many hard edges in the real world as soft edges. TIP: If you are working digitally, zoom out of your illustration and make it thumbnail sized. If you are working traditionally, you can try walking away from your painting or taking a picture, importing it on your computer and zooming out. If your illustration still reads when it's super small. You're most likely going in the right direction. If not, you're either overblending, shading with the base color or making the mistake we're going to talk about next.
3) WRONG VALUES/NOT ENOUGH CONTRAST. Value is how much black you have in your color. The absence of black is white. A lot of people are afraid to press that pencil down, to put more shadows and highlights in their illustrations and paintings. They are trying to avoid ruining it but the consequence is a work of art that doesn't catch the eye and has no dimension to it. You must push your values. Don't be afraid of making the highlight lighter and the dark darker. How to tell if your painting lacks contrast? The best way to fix this problem is by doing greyscale studies, that means working with pure black and white and mixing them to get greys. It is vitally important you do this to get to understand values. But if you want to do a colored painting, you still need your values to be in check. How do you do that? If you are working digitally, create a layer above all your other layers. Take your bucket tool. Pick pure black and color your layer with it. Change the layer mode to color. Your painting should be in black and white. You can turn the visibility on and off to check your values and push that contrast. If you are working traditionally, you can take a picture of your piece and use software to turn the photo black and white. You can walk a step back and squint your eyes (but this isn't very reliable. Especially for beginners). Don't be afraid to push your values. You'll be able to create more interesting effects and your work will have more dimension.
If you have any more questions you can ask them below. Follow me on Instagram: @__carthago (double undersocres.)