underpainting

[uhn-der-peyn-ting]
noun
the first coat of paint, especially the initial painting on a canvas in which the major areas, tones, colors, and forms are indicated in mass.

Origin:
1865–70; under- + painting

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World English Dictionary
underpainting (ˈʌndəˌpeɪntɪŋ)
 
n
the first layer in a painting, indicating the design and main areas of light and shade

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
The actual paint layers consist of an underpainting, over which the final paint layers and medium-rich glazes were applied.
Casein paint is used on paper or board for light impasto, underpainting, and wall decoration.
Week two will be a discussion of creating depth while painting the landscape and underpainting technique.
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