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Thread: Advice on approaching Value studies.

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Advice on approaching Value studies.

    Hello everyone, I'm extremely green when it comes to painting (more like terrified and confused). i feel like I cant even do value studies. and everyone is always telling me "do your value studies!". i blame that on the fact that i have no idea how to go about them, where do i begin? if anyone would be so kind as to point me in a direction that would help me learn how to do practice them, it would be much appreciated.

    also i well be doing them in digital

    sorry if I'm being a bit vague but I'm terrible at asking questions.

    thank you once again.
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    Values are simply the way of looking at all colors in terms of their relative darkness or lightness... basically seeing colors as "grayscale" versions of themselves. A grayscale "Value" (its dark or light quality) is a characteristic or quality that exists in each particular color that is sometimes hard to see when you are looking at bright reds and yellows and blues. Bright colors can fool the eye about the actcual level of grayscale value.

    Take a color photo of a person into photoshop and turn it into a grayscale document. Take a few color photos of various scenes and people and turn them into grayscale in photoshop. And notice how the relative darkness and lightness of all the colors translates over into simply relative darkness and lightness without color.

    Then take some of these grayscale photos in photoshop and image:adjustments:posterize them with only 3 levels. Notice how you can still see what's going on even with only 3 basic general values.

    Notice also that in color photos taken in dimmer light a red dress will be darker than the same exact red dress photographed in lighter lighting.

    Now, here's where you begin... take a photo of a person, head and shoulders only, into photoshop and without turning it grayscale, try to copy the color photo in blacks and grays and white onto another document. In other words, you play the grayscale filter.

    you might want to stark blocking in the main big areas with 3 values only. They just need to be right "in general." Then you can begin being more specific about changes in tone.

    Once you are done, turn the color photo reference into black and white and compare your grayscaling to the computer's version of it. (although the computer isn't perfect at converting colors to values, its good enough to start with.)

    Try to draw with value instead of line. In other words, lay on areas of tone in various shades of gray to paint your painting. Painting is laying in areas, drawing uses lines. So to learn to paint, you must learn to lay in areas, rather than draw lines around stuff.

    Best of luck
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    Last edited by kev ferrara; December 7th, 2012 at 03:10 PM.
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    thank so much! i well most def give his a try.
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    You need to learn to see them and not stay in the middle values. I found it tough getting it into my head, but it's worth pushing. The vector picture on the left below is what I considered finished years ago. Ran it through a few corrections pushing the values and it's tons better. Don't be scared of going too dark.



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    Start with the extremes: what is the lightest light, the darkest dark and the lightest shadow? These values define your spectrum, and separate light and shadow. Don't bother about blending, keep using small swatches of value in the right spot. Make a simple setup in a shadow box, with a single light source.
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    I have a question: Is there always a black and a white? If there isn't, should you make them anyways? I find I hang out a lot in the middle greys, but I'm not sure if that's because there isn't a black/white or if I'm just not seeing it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by keeptime View Post
    I have a question: Is there always a black and a white? If there isn't, should you make them anyways? I find I hang out a lot in the middle greys, but I'm not sure if that's because there isn't a black/white or if I'm just not seeing it.
    No there isn't always...in fact in most things rarely. The thing to keep in mind is values are relative...so even something that seems "white" in the scene, simply because it is the lightest value, may not even be close. A good test is to take a white towel or even just some white paper towel and place it out there in the landscape or adjacent to the subject. It is a very common mistake of the amateur to paint anything light with white...clouds, water, etc.

    Another thing to keep in mind is paint is extremely limited in value and chroma expression compared to both nature and what we can see. So you have to learn to manage and control value and color efficiently by sort of compressing it while keeping it all relative. This can best be seen and understood when you are trying to paint the "sparkle" on water for example...the only way to get that intense sparkle highlight is if your other "white" values are significantly subdued.

    Hope that made sense. For exammples you might want to study people that paint snow and seascapes well...Aldro T. Hibbard, T.A. Lawson, Richard Schmid, Clyde Aspevig, Frederick Waugh...
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    There is nothing wrong with using the extremes of the value scale as a key but I find starting with a value you are sure of helps a lot more. Save your white and blacks for accents only and key your painting to as few values as possible for the large masses, grouping as many things together in value as possible.
    It is also good to memorize the general value planes for landscape and use them the same way you use construction techniques for the figure as a guide for life drawing. Once you understand their relationship to each other you can slide them up or down like changing key in music. The notes are still relatively the same.

    Using a scale where 1 is black and 10 is white, the general values for landscape on a clear sunny day are as follows;
    Ground plane in the light is 8 on the value scale the incline plane is 7 and the upright plane is 6.
    In the shadow the ground plane is 6 the inclined plane 5 and the upright plane 4.
    The vault of the sky is 9.5 at the horizon and transitions up to 8 at zenith.
    You will rarely have a picture where you will use all your values, most scenes being mostly land or sea, or mostly sky so 5 main values (full steps) are all you really ever need.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffX99 View Post
    This can best be seen and understood when you are trying to paint the "sparkle" on water for example...the only way to get that intense sparkle highlight is if your other "white" values are significantly subdued.
    Or say, you're painting something lit by candlelight. It might not be a particularly bright light , but it's still the brightest thing in your scene by a long way, so you'll have to arrange everything around that fact if you want it to look convincing..

    Edit: which is not the same thing as deliberately messing with realistic values for artistic effect, say, Gwen John
    Last edited by Flake; December 8th, 2012 at 12:10 AM.
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    This isn't quite what you're asking about, but figured you'd might find it helpful:

    http://www.onanimation.com/2011/08/3...osition-notes/

    It's more focused on designing layout/composition, but does touch on value plans.
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    is it a crime to draw line art the add values to while painting? sorry I'm very new to this.
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