values-final2Good control of values is one of the most important skills in drawing and painting.

Value control enables you to create depth and space in your work, and a convincing illusion of three dimensional form.

It also creates a feeling of light. If you can control value well enough, you can create a visual poetry of light in your work.

Here’s a few examples of my own value studies, to give you an idea of where the value exercises on Creative Triggers will eventually take you. These drawings were done from life in black and white chalk, using a blending method that owes more to painting than drawing.



In these exercises, we will begin by making simple value scales. You will use these scales later on in more complex exercises. The better the value scales you produce in the beginning exercises, the easier you will find the more advanced value exercises.

Eventually we will progress to drawing and painting finished value studies of still life subjects. If you practice diligently, I promise you will be amazed at what you can create with good value control.

Value control is a skill like any other. It can be practised and learned.

But first things first. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to develop our ability to judge values, one against the other. This is the primary core skill of good value control. We also need to gain fine-grained control over values in a variety of mediums.

1. Value Scales

These exercises start simple, but don’t be fooled. They will get you started on developing the most important core skill for producing convincing values in paintings and drawings: Comparing and judging relative value.

Start the exercises

2. Matching Local Values

Using the value scales you’ve produced in the last exercise, together with one more very simple but very powerful device, you’ll start to practise finding the value of local colours. Starting simple with low chroma colours, you’ll move onto high chroma colours. With practice, there’ll be no colour you make a good estimation of the value of. As well as unlocking values for you, this skill will unlock colour is a way that will surprise you.

Start this Exercise

3. Mid Value Cube Coming Soon

Now it gets harder. You’ll be producing real-world drawings and/or paintings of a grey cube. You might think that’s a simple subject, but if you want it to really live on your canvas, you’ll have to work hard and practice at this. The skills you’ll learn here will translate directly into better values in all your work.