Value is used to create a focal point within a painting or drawing.
The human eye is immediately drawn to a light element against a dark element.
This creates, the focal point of interest.
To create the illusion of depth, gradations of value are also used.
Areas of light and dark give a three-dimensional illusion of form to subject matter.
The word “value” is used a lot around this site and with good reason. Value is one
of the seven elements of art. Value deals with the lightness or darkness of a color.
Since we see objects and understand objects because of how dark or light they are,
value is incredible important to art. (I’ll remind you that drawing and painting
is about seeing.)
Value deals directly to light. We see things because light reflects off of objects
and goes into our eyes. Our mind processes the light and rationalizes what we are
seeing. Without light, we cannot see anything. In order to draw or paint in a way
that creates an illusion of what we normally see, we must fully understand light
and how it reacts on surfaces. Value is the key to the illusion of light. This
is why value is so incredibly important to drawing and painting.
Successful Artwork has a Full Range of Value
Artworks that exhibit a full range of value are generally successful. It doesn’t
matter the type of art you are creating. As long as there are dark values in harmony
with light values, your artwork will most likely be aesthetically pleasing. A full
range of value means that they are ample amounts of light values- called tints, and
dark values – called shades. To be sure that you have a full range of value in your
artwork you may create a value scale…
Using a value scale, you can be sure that you create a full range of value. Many
artists use a value scale as they work, identifying specific values and adding them
in appropriate spots.
Take this apple for example…
If we were to take out all color, we would still see the apple and recognize it as an
apple. In other words, we are just showing the values of the apple…
If we take this one step further and isolate eight of the values, we can see where we
would need to draw or paint the values…
Using Value in Drawings
The whole point to value is to create the illusion of light. So value is used to
basically create the illusion of highlights and shadows. Highlights and shadows combine
to create the illusion of a light source. Remember, without light we cannot see. So
technically, without a light source, you have no illusion.
The Ultimate Lesson Plan
“The Ultimate Lesson Plan” is a complete classroom solution for art teachers that
includes lesson plans, videos, handouts, quizzes and more.
This is why value is mentioned so frequently on all of the art instruction videos
and pages on this website. It’s important. If you understand and implement value
correctly in your drawings and paintings, you will see immediate improvement. Value
is essential to success.
Value – Terms
Value – Element of art associated with the darkness or lightness of a color
Light source – area in which light is originating from
Value scale – a guide to creating a range of value, good pieces of art have a full
range of value
Tints – light values
Free Art Lessons- Value Scale
Shades – dark values
Free Art Lessons-Tints
Highlights – areas on an object where light is hitting
Free Art Lessons-Shades
Shadows- areas on an object where light does not hit