Form And Light In Three Colors

Learn How Color Affects Value and Value Range

In this lesson we’ll learn to show both three dimensional form as well as light using three values with a fourth for the cast shadow. It is important to learn this three-value formula, because it is the single best way to show three dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface.

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Value is one of several important characteristics of color. Also known as ‘shade’ or ‘tone’, it is essentially the level of dark or light. It is most easily understood when working with only white, black and varying shades of gray in between.

This is an exercise in depicting “chiaroscuro” or actual pattern of light and shade as it appears on illuminated objects.

We’ll work with three colors and will use layers of each color to depict light and form using only the “local color” of our objects.  Building layers of color usually ads both color intensity and darker values. As you’ll see, the lighter colors on your palette are simply not capable of producing dark values when used alone.

We’ll be using the simple composition of cubes used in two earlier videos – click the buttons below to see those videos – As in the earlier videos, the different value areas will show the different areas of light, shade and shadow that reveal the form of the subject and the direction and quality of light.

A note about value.  It is often considered to be the most important characteristic for painters. This is because value changes and value contrasts can impact the mood, focus and visual movement through a painting. Many would say that value is the only aspect of color that really matters – think of some great drawings you’ve seen that are done only in black and white media.

What you’ll need:

Related Lessons

Value To Color

Value Basics

Color Basics