Isn’t it cool when two colored bottles overlap and the place where one is behind the other is a new color?
I love that, but I’ve shied away from it in needlepoint because getting that feeling of transparency always seemed too hard for me.
Let’s think about when this occurs and why.
Transparency happens when a transparent or translucent object is partially in front of another object. When this happens the overlap is a color that is a mixture of the colors in both objects.
You see this at work clearly in our sample canvas, above (it’s from Blue Dogwood Designs). Each rock overlaps the rock below it. If you look at the overlapped areas you can clearly see that the color is a mixture of both rock colors. The top overlap is a darker teal (because of the grey-blue rock), the second overlap is a dark grey-blue (because of the medium grey rock), the bottom overlap is a darker yellow-green (because of the dark grey rock). You can see how overlaps without transparency look by looking at the border between the yellow-green and grey rocks, The yellow-green rock completely hides the grey rock behind it.
Begin by Analyzing the Canvas
Look at your canvas for clues about which item is in front. This will give you clues about threads and stitches you’ll need later.
Here we can use the green rock to tell us that the lower rock is in front of the upper rock.
Pick Threads & Stitches
We already know that the color of the overlap is a mixture of the two colors that make it up. In order to convey that one item partially covers the other, use the same thread and stitch as the item in front.
The color will convey transparency since it is the defining characteristic. The stitch and thread will convey order. This works because your eye will interpret areas in the same stitch and thread but in different colors as being the same thing.
When I stitched the rocks I picked thread colors to match the colors of the canvas to help convey the mix when the colors meet. But to give each rock consistency I used the same stitch for the entire rock, no matter the color.