The Value of Value

Learn The Basics Of This Important Element

Value, consciously designed and placed, will support many aspects of the painting. The proper design and placement of value shapes will do more to strengthen your compositions than anything else. This lesson is a short tutorial on Value and it’s importance and uses for the artist.

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Value Defined

Value is a measure of the relative lightness or darkness of a color or color shape. It is also referred to as tone and is one of the three characteristics of color.

Learning to see the many hundreds or thousands of values as they exist in nature and to then transpose them a limited range of steps is fundamental to understanding and applying good value design in your paintings.

Important Uses For The Artist

Value, consciously designed and placed, will support many aspects of the painting. Primarily, though, Value has three important uses to the artist in developing compositions for painting:

First, properly applying a range of values supports the representation of an object with its local color and some indication of its three-dimensional form.  This video shows how to depict simple forms with using their local value and color. 

Second,properly applying a range of values supports the representation of the quality, intensity and direction of light. This video shows how to use form to depict the effect of light on simple forms. 

Third, the conscious placement of contrasting light and dark shapes helps draw the eye to certain places in the composition, especially the focal point.  Essentially, replacing lights, darks and mid-values where they best fit the design of the painting.

Of all the characteristics of color, value is the most important one to understand and use when composing your paintings.  The range and placement of value will arguably have more effect on the viewers perception of light, form, space and mood than any other – hue, chroma or temperature.

Learn to use it well and wisely. It will boost the strength and accomplishment of your work tremendously.

Related Lessons

Value Basics

Value Sketching