Earlier to make a base for painting, artists used to paste 10-20 layers of newspaper, on that they paste the drawing sheet over which they apply the paste of refined flour (Maida). Now days, artists have changed the technique of using the base. They use mount board, over which they paste ivory sheet or cartridge sheet and start the painting. The first step requires the artist to make a preliminary sketch of the image on the base. Thereafter, he makes a paste of zinc oxide and Arabic gum, known as 'gesso paste'. This paste is used to give a slightly raised effect of carving to those parts of the painting that require embellishments and is allowed to dry. The artist does two coatings of this paste to make a proper raised surface. Then, gold foil is pasted onto the surface, using Arabic gum. Now a day’s fevicolis used in place of gum. Some artists apply varnish after gesso paste so as to avoid cracking of gold foil in future. They left the gold foil dried for another 6-8 hours. After which they use brush to remove the excess gold. Some used cotton in place of brush. Since it is gold foil, which is very expensive, they use the left out gold foil on some other surfaces of painting. The rest of the painting is prepared with the help of water colors. Initially they used natural dyes, which are replaced by synthetic poster colors and water colors in modern times.
The basic colors that we can see in any Mysore painting are primary colors: Red, Green and Blue. Earlier the colours used were made out of natural resources and were very few like green, blue, yellow, red, black and white. Colours were extracted from vegetables leaves and flowers. Earth colours were also used to a large extent. Colour preparation was interesting process in which the artists themselves were involved. For instance green was made from lemon juice, which was filled in copper container and buried for few days, and allow it to turn into green. They complete the painting in two coats. Starting with one color, the artist applies the same color in the painting where ever it is needed. Then the process moves on. In the place of gold, they apply yellow color; later on cover it with slightly thick layer of Gesso paste. Over which they paste gold foil. Using a mixture of black Indian ink and poster color to reduce the glossy effect does intricate design on gold foil. After the painting is fully dried, it is covered with a thin paper and rubbed lightly with a smooth soft stone.
There are three types of paintings:
Paintings with plain gold foil without embossing
Paintings with embossing
MakkiSafeda Work: firstly the base color is painted, then after shades of white color (zinc oxide: super white) is applied.
Border is compulsory in every painting; done in black and yellow color prominently. The artist highlights the main figures in yellow color mainly to differentiate it from the background.