Advice on approaching Value studies.
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Thread: Advice on approaching Value studies.

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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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    kev ferrara is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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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.



    Name:  values.jpg
Views: 1282
Size:  135.8 KB


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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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    The only crimes are stealing another artist's work and not experimenting because you 're looking for a road map.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Symson View Post
    The only crimes are stealing another artist's work and not experimenting because you 're looking for a road map.
    Well, there are a few more options, including, but not restricted to, killing and raping artists

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    Quote Originally Posted by eezacque@xs4all.nl View Post
    Well, there are a few more options, including, but not restricted to, killing and raping artists
    Yeeesh! I'm glad I don't live in your neighborhood if that's what they do to artists.;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Novaking View Post
    is it a crime to draw line art the add values to while painting? sorry I'm very new to this.
    There are sort of two main ways of working...one relies on line to define contour and shape and that is generally considered drawing...painting relies more on broad strokes or passages of value to describe form and volume. There is of course some crossover but that is sort of how it breaks down in the big picture...you can bthink of them as two "kingdoms"...like plant or animal. You can definitely start from a line oriented sketch and build value on top of that...in that case you are shifting from drawing (the sketch) to painting (building up the forms and volumes form broad passages).

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    witch one would suggest to a beginner artist that has no knowledge of painting?

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    Definitely want to get started with drawing. The majority of the fundamentals can be developed through drawing and you can't really paint well if you don't understand drawing.

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    Wait... I'm confused.
    I can change the saturation and leave the brightness amount the same and it will change the level of brightness?
    This is confusing.

    EDIT: Jeff, when you specify drawing for fundamentals, is it better to focus on line drawing for a long time before doing any shading? I've been doing bits of both here and there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DreamArt View Post
    Wait... I'm confused.
    I can change the saturation and leave the brightness amount the same and it will change the level of brightness?
    This is confusing.
    AFAIK, this is because many colours appear to be brighter than they actually are numerically in terms of HSB. For example, just open up the colour picker in Photoshop, click the little "S" to set it to Saturation, set your colour to H: 250 and B: 50, and look at the vertical Saturation slider. S. You'll see that the highly saturated blue looks darker than the desaturated one, despite both having the same brightness. To me, it seems this effect is less pronounced with the H. range of 70 to 150, and more pronounced at the rest of the ranges.


    But I'm not sure I understand this correctly because in doing some Saturation experiments I opened a huge can of worms of how Photoshop treats Saturation and Brightness.

    To see what I mean, try this.
    Make a solid block of colour (for example, H:160, S:60, B:60). Make another one, same H and B, but set S:0 so it appears light gray. Then, make an identical copy of the first block on a new layer, open the Hue/Saturation selector (Ctrl or Cmd + U) and lower the Saturation slider to the minimum. I expect this to simply lower S:60 to S:0 so both blocks would appear the same gray, but they don't. The saturation slider also seems to lower the Brightness, end up with a block whose Brightness now reads 42 on the HSB reading.

    Anyone have an explanation of why this is?

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    Quote Originally Posted by aks9 View Post
    AFAIK, this is because many colours appear to be brighter than they actually are numerically in terms of HSB. For example, just open up the colour picker in Photoshop, click the little "S" to set it to Saturation, set your colour to H: 250 and B: 50, and look at the vertical Saturation slider. S. You'll see that the highly saturated blue looks darker than the desaturated one, despite both having the same brightness. To me, it seems this effect is less pronounced with the H. range of 70 to 150, and more pronounced at the rest of the ranges.
    This is because "Brightness" in HSB is not the same as value (lightness). It is brightness relative to the maximum possible for a given hue and saturation. For any hue, the less saturated versions get lighter than the more saturated, the more so when the fully saturated colour is dark, like blue.



    See also the sections on brightness and saturation on this page:
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/012.php


    Quote Originally Posted by aks9 View Post
    Make a solid block of colour (for example, H:160, S:60, B:60). Make another one, same H and B, but set S:0 so it appears light gray. Then, make an identical copy of the first block on a new layer, open the Hue/Saturation selector (Ctrl or Cmd + U) and lower the Saturation slider to the minimum. I expect this to simply lower S:60 to S:0 so both blocks would appear the same gray, but they don't. The saturation slider also seems to lower the Brightness, end up with a block whose Brightness now reads 42 on the HSB reading.

    Anyone have an explanation of why this is?
    Well spotted. This is because the Hue/Saturation selector does not use HSB; it uses another space called HLS or HSL. "Saturation" has a completely different meaning in HLS and HSB, and the "L" in HLS is not the same as either HSB Brightness or true lightness. It is a rather arbitrary measure of relative lightness, and when you reduce the HLS "saturation" while keeping "L" the same, some colours get darker, some get lighter, and a few stay the same. "Saturation" in Photoshop actually has, without any warning, four different meanings in different places!.



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    OMG...I have no idea how the above relates to art in any manner. If you want to understand value better I would suggest simply drawing, with traditional media, from observation. The world is all around you...learn to see it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DreamArt View Post
    EDIT: Jeff, when you specify drawing for fundamentals, is it better to focus on line drawing for a long time before doing any shading? I've been doing bits of both here and there.
    Hey DreamArt - sorry for the late reply - I missed this in here. Like I said before they are sort of two distinct modes...you can always add value to develop contour or line oriented drawings. I definitely think you work on both things, it isn't a linear learning process like math. Most artists work in a wide variety of modes as well as media...from drawing oriented through painting in pure color.

    For a good book on the difference you might want to check out William Maughan's "The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head". He approaches "drawing" with broad passage tools (charcoal, conte).

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    briggsy@ashtons wow, thanks for the informative reply. I now understand the basics of the problem, though it will take some studying to really grasp this in a way that I can being to apply consciously.

    I made this little graph to think a bit about this. Am I getting it right?
    I wonder what it would be like if they added a "Value (V)" option to the colour picker that looked like this, so you could freely select colours from the entire value range.

    Name:  photoshop-hsbv.jpg
Views: 812
Size:  25.2 KB



    I also noticed that the way saturation is treated by using different types of Adjustment layers is also different. The "Black & White" adjustment layer changes saturation in a different way than the "Vibrance" one. I now guess this is because they're treating L B and V differently in each case.

    I remember checking out your colour website quite some time ago, but it was was over my head. I'll go give it another look and see if I can learn something thanks!

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    You're very welcome! The vertical axis of your diagram is not really value, because on most horizontal lines there are colours of a range of different values. If you want to pick colours by their value then you should use the Lab controls (not necessarily in Lab mode). Your file includes all of the colours on the surface of the RGB colour space, and none from the interior, which could make it a very handy thing to pick from for some strategies of digital painting.

    I'm planning to add some more info to the site relating to the controls in Photoshop before too long.

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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    I'm planning to add some more info to the site relating to the controls in Photoshop before too long.
    Yes, please please do! I find it so frustrating to pick colors in Photoshop because of the inability to show anything other than CMYK gamut warning in the picker. I want to constrain my L value so that when I bring the L all the way up and pick a color, it doesn't pick something at the wrong L.

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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    [...]The vertical axis of your diagram is not really value, because on most horizontal lines there are colours of a range of different values. If you want to pick colours by their value then you should use the Lab controls (not necessarily in Lab mode). Your file includes all of the colours on the surface of the RGB colour space, and none from the interior, which could make it a very handy thing to pick from for some strategies of digital painting [...]
    aaaah, and the plot thickens yet again! ...

    so, why is the photoshop colour picker organised this way? is it actually better for photo-editing? or is it some type of "laziness" in just making a colour picker that is logical in terms of numbers from an engineering point of view? would painters benefit from a colour picker that was organised differently? does the painter wheel color picker work better? so many questions...

    i look forward to reading the new info!

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    Quote Originally Posted by aks9 View Post
    so, why is the photoshop colour picker organised this way? is it actually better for photo-editing? or is it some type of "laziness" in just making a colour picker that is logical in terms of numbers from an engineering point of view? would painters benefit from a colour picker that was organised differently? does the painter wheel color picker work better?
    Laziness on the programmer's side: it is easier to make a graduated square than a graduated triangle or circle. And then it stuck forever.

    Yes, Painter's wheel color picker works better, because it does not have the redundant values, and it has an actual chroma wheel instead of a linear rainbow, which makes picking color harmonics much easier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neonnoodle View Post
    Yes, please please do! I find it so frustrating to pick colors in Photoshop because of the inability to show anything other than CMYK gamut warning in the picker. I want to constrain my L value so that when I bring the L all the way up and pick a color, it doesn't pick something at the wrong L.
    I agree! I know this rough draft is still a mess visually, but when finished and properly captioned it should help to explain that problem, anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aks9 View Post
    so, why is the photoshop colour picker organised this way? is it actually better for photo-editing? or is it some type of "laziness" in just making a colour picker that is logical in terms of numbers from an engineering point of view? would painters benefit from a colour picker that was organised differently? does the painter wheel color picker work better?
    The basic problem is that when the RGB gamut is arranged according to true perceptual dimensions, it doesn't occupy a simple geometrical volume. The only space commonly used in painting programs that has a dimension of true tonal value is Lab space, but to use this in Photoshop it's important to understand that the apparently simple cubic range of colours (L x a x b) is an illusion, and if you try to pick colours outside the odd-shaped central space of real colours, you no longer get the L value you are after (as that diagram I just posted is meant to show). One alternative is to distort the RGB space into a simple quasi-perceptual space like HLS, as used in the Painter color picker, which is convenient but lacks a true value dimension. Another alternative is to use a completely different but geometrically simple basis for organizing colours, like HSB or RGB. Hope that's clear enough for now, it's getting very late here!

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