- Lesson Details
In this series, instructor Bill Perkins brings you his crash course on color theory and practice. This six part series is designed to accelerate your learning curve, allowing you to gain confidence in your paintings and an overall understanding of how color works in various situations. Each lesson will focus on a different aspect of color, and will center around images of a model in different color and lighting set-ups designed by Bill himself. This first lesson in the series will focus on value, and how to break down various values within your paintings.
- Sharpie Marker
- Gamblin Artists Grade Oil Paint
- Hogs Hair Bristle Brushes – Filberts
- Gamsol Oderless Mineral Spirits
- Silicoil Brush Cleaning Tank
- Palette Paper
- Canvas Panel
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of lessons, and these series of lessons are going to take you from looking at tonal contrast
and values into color saturation, contrast of complementary colors, color temperature.
We’re going to fulfill many different aspects of color theory. In this session we’re going
to talk about value. We’re going to work on our values and the way that we break values
down when we do a painting. Each painting that we do is specifically set up and time
boxed in a certain manner that you’re going to gain the best success out of it. It’s
not just about doing a portrait or a series of portraits. These are sketches and beginnings.
We’re chipping away at these attempts. You’ll do multiple paintings. Let’s get started.
and the way that we break values down when we do a painting. We’re going to start with
a couple of exercises. But first, I want to give you an overview of where we’re going
to go and how we’re going to treat value. We have two keys. When we talk about a key
and a tonal key, most people look at that say, okay, it’s a high key or a low key,
but I want to be more specific with where we go with our keys. There is actually two
directions in which you can go with your key. Not just a major key, but we also have a minor
key. Your major key is about proportion. If we say it’s overall dark or your major key
is dark we might look at it this way. We might say in your overall painting situation like
this, we might say if our painting is overall dark, we might say most of this image is dark.
This would be kind of a diagram that would talk about your major key.
Your major key is about proportion. It’s all about proportion. This to this. This,
if I even go more over here it’s a greater proportion. So you see a bigger difference
here. This would be a low major key. That’s a low major key. If I was going to do a high
major key I might have something, I’m just using this rectangle as a diagram. This is
just for diagram sake. I might say…okay, this would be the difference. This would be
a high major key. Now, the difference is if your image is mostly dark or mostly light.
Your major key is the overall proportion. We’ll keep that squared away, and we’ll
keep that separate from this next issue, which is your minor key. Your minor key is the range
of contrast within your image.
Okay, so we’ll look at this as a diagram for a minor key. Now, if I set this up, and
most of you that have computers have adjusted the monitor in some way. You might see a symbol
like this as a symbol for a contrast in your range of contrast. That’s just what your
minor key is. It’s your range of contrast. Here we have our minor key. Okay, and you
have a lot of contrast here. This high contrast would be a high minor key. Let’s take it
a step farther. Let’s just say that we have very little contrast. When we have very little
contrast we would say low minor key. Okay. Low minor key. A lot of people would get confused
with that because you’re going to think of it as low, meaning dark. It doesn’t mean
dark. When you’re minor key, it doesn’t mean dark. What it means is contrast, a range
of contrast. Okay, so these are two separate issues. Your overall proportion is your major
key up here, and your minor key, which is your range of contrast in here.
Here is another low contrast situation. I’ll give you another low contrast situation.
There is low minor key. So, in this situation you would see that there is very little contrast.
In this situation there is also very little contrast. In this situation there is a lot
of contrast. This is a range of minor key. It’s just measuring the level of contrast
within the overall image. We have two ways of measuring the value or saturation or hue
or any aspect of color, but we’re just talking about tone right now. We’ll look at it in
terms of your major key, which is your proportion. Is it overall dark or overall light? Then
we’re going to look at the minor key, which is the range of contrast within the image.
That’s going to be high or low or medium, somewhere in there. And we’ll work that out.
Now, by balancing these two elements of your major and minor key, we can get very specific
for two reasons: One, establishing the mood. The balancing of these two things will actually
determine the mood of your piece. Just because of the overall amount of light to dark and
the amount of contrast within the image. That will create your mood or help establish the
mood. Secondly, it allows you to bracket more clearly your values. When you establish your
matrix or your initial design pattern, what you’re going to do is you’ll first establish
that. Then you’ll be able to, through understanding your major and minor key, you’re going to
be able to break that down into what’s going to be useful. Basically, observing more clearly
and putting things in the proper relationships from the very beginning. That’s what you
want to do. Understand what you’re looking at from the very beginning and not be a slave
to just copying each little bit to bit to bit. When you understand it and you see the
world simply, that’s when you can put it down simply, directly. There is that one way
that I know of that will actually elevate you from being a beginning artist into an
experienced artist, and that’s clear observation and understanding how these parts go together
or how these elements actually work.
So, to simplify, we’ll start with an image, and in these images we’re going to have
someone sitting. Within these we might say that this first image is overall low major
key. There is a good amount of dark. We’re going to use this as just an example here.
At the same time—so there is mostly dark here—she has dark hair, and we have some
division of light to dark patterning in here. I’m going to break through this really simply.
I’m just giving this a quick little abstract here.
Now, this is what I mean about bracketing my values. I can see that the greater proportion
of this image is dark. I set it up with just black and white here. Most of the image is
dark. So, this would be a low major key. Now, in terms of your minor key, the range of contrast,
once I’ve established this dark pattern in here and the proportion of these things,
of these zones, now I’m going to look at what’s the value contrast within these zones.
Then you break that down. If I have only a few major groups like the background as 1,
her hair might be 2, and a shadow part of that is 3. Her skin might be 4. Her skin in
light might be 4. Her skin in shadow might be 5 We might even see that her shirt might
follow up into one of these groups as well; 2, 3, 5, 4. It may end up in one of those groups as well.
What happens is, we’ve often heard or hear other artists or read about different famous
artists as painting with just a limited number of values. I wanted to clear something up.
When you’re looking at it in this manner, it’s not a case of five separate values
or discreet values. What it is five value ranges. So, if we were to take our overall
range of contrast from black to white. If we get an even gradient going on here, what
it might mean is within our painting, our range of contrast will be broken out in this
manner. We might have something that’s really dark and have this value range. There might
be a gap. We’ll have a gap. Maybe we have a broad value range. The values within this
zone—say this is 5, and this might be 4, and then 3, and this is going to set up to
be 2 and maybe 1 is just some little tiny areas, a small range of contrast here.
Now, the critical thing is that we eliminate these particular ranges of contrast within
here. We eliminate those out of our value scale. Now, by eliminating those ranges of
value, it’s going to keep us focused on the range that is going to exist within each
zone. So, when we start painting on these paintings, you’re going to break it down
this way so that you can identify that zone. Then what you’ll do is you’ll lay in the
middle values of those zones. You’ll know the range that you need that you can mix within
in order to keep your whole painting balanced within your matrix and within the value zone
that you’ve selected or identified.
Okay, so we’ve identified these value zones in here, and then what we’ll do is we’ll
paint accordingly, and we’ll know the range of contrast. Keeping a clear gap between those
ranges is extremely important. You might think in a painting you need full values from white
to black. You don’t. If you only paint within those groups, and you have a clear distinction
between groups, you’re painting, no matter if it’s very subtle or whether it’s very
contrasty, it will be clear and it will read really clearly. Okay? That’s the key. It’s
kind of a backwards way of thinking because you’ll think, oh, well, you have to have
all these values. Well, you really don’t. You just need to be discreet about the range
and how you put those ranges together. So, let’s get started.
You’re going to get 30 minutes to do this painting. Now, I suggest that you do a sketch on your canvas
before you set your timer. I want you to do 30 minutes on the painting. If it’s not done, put it down.
Start another one. Start fresh. Don’t continue to paint. Only spend the 30 minutes. This is critical to your
learning curve. It's very critical. Don’t go over it. You’re not going to get any benefit out of it, and
you’re not going to be putting a frame on these. These are going to become your personal journal, your
stepping stones on becoming a better artist. This first one is going to be a setup that is overall low key or
overall dark value. Then it’s going to have a high contrast with a strong lighting condition.
but that’s part of the lesson, and that’s why we call it a boot camp. The more you do, the better
you get. So now I’m going to take a turn. I’m going to paint the same thing. You can
watch me, and you can see how I would have approached it, and compare yours to mine
and build from there.
Now that we’ve drawn our drawing, I want you make sure that you’ve followed the photograph,
where in this painting, it’s Chiaroscuro dominant, which means that we have a light
side and a shadow side that is the most contrast in our image. Okay, so in this case her face
is broken into two major parts, that which is in light, and that which is in shadow.
Her hair as well in the background and so on. This is an overall dark painting, so in
this case it was set up this way that we have a black background and a good amount of this
canvas is in the dark to medium value range. They’ll be some high contrast in here, but
at this point we’re really looking at this division of this white to black pattern. That’s
the important thing for this. Now, once you have your basic drawing sketched in like this
the way you like it—and it’s fine, take your time if you want to work on your drawing
and get your drawing right the way you feel comfortable, but it should be depicting the
area in light versus the area in shadow. That should be your strongest division in there.
I just use a simple wash to show this area, and I lock it all together. Okay, so it all
becomes one pattern in the overall. Now, that’s going to be important.
Like I said, I want you to go ahead and take the time to do that with your drawing if you’d
like, but as we paint, we’re going to time box each painting to 30 minutes. This exercise
is going to be all about creating your value groups. It’s not a portrait class. It’s
not painting to try to get a perfect likeness. It’s about setting up your value groups.
As you will see, as I paint through this painting, you’re going to realize that you can continuingly
change shapes and move shapes around and adjust things if you get your basic proportions down
first. That’s really all you need. But this is the lay-in which you’re going to establish
first. That which is in light versus that which is dark in your two major groups. Then
we’ll go in and lay-in the sub groups. The value changes within the dark region, the
value differences within the light region.
So, the first step being divide your canvas into black and white based on the design pattern
that is organized within this photograph, which is Chiaroscuro being light side versus
a shadow side. I’m going to go ahead and black in, and using my darkest darks, I’m
going to go ahead and start with that. You’re going to see that what I’m going to do here
is I’m going to add just a touch of white because I don’t want to go to full black
right out of the box here. I want to get a little bit of, I want to save some of those
blackest blacks to my very end. I’m going to go ahead and just go ahead and put this in.
I might start a little bit thinner in here. I’m going to want to make sure that
I get enough paint to cover the area pretty well. Now, I’m not using the black through
the whole dark area. I’m only using it in the darkest areas in my background back here.
As I go into my lighter values, still within the black region, I’m just going to go ahead
and lay those in first. I’m going to lay the values in my black zone. But I’m going
to see that some of my values are going to get just a step lighter, like parts on her
face going to get slightly lighter than the background,
so I’m going to step up just a little step in value.
I’m going to block this area in here.
Okay, so I blocked in this area in here, and that’s kind of my shadow shape that I’ve
created there. Then from there I’m going to see her hair has some different values
in it. They will be pretty dark. Even in the light area they’re pretty dark up here.
So, I’m going to work with that for these shapes in here. I’m just going to get the
darkest areas in there. Even in some areas here they’re going to even blend into the
background. I’m going to go ahead and allow that to happen.
Just like that.
Again, there are some areas that are in her hair that are going to go almost as dark as
the background, so I’m going to go ahead and bring that into that range of the background.
Make sure I get a little bit of her forehead showing there.
Here we go. Then I’m going
to regain some of the dark in here because I can see that in this shadow shape
here it goes really dark in there too.
So this is my zone. I just about covered the zone that’s
in shadow. I have this real dark in here, the shadow cast onto her just from her shirt
there. But that’s some of the darkest dark in there. But I also know that I have the
dark of her eyes, and I can put that in as well. I’m going to block that in.
Anything I’m doing in here is highly adjustable. If I get into the shadow here we’re going
to get a little bit of her eyebrow kind of turning over there. Her eyebrow in light is
going to be a little bit lighter. I’m going to go back up into this and get that in there.
Lighter yet in here.
Okay, so from this point what I’m going to do is I’m going to start laying in all
the values that are in light, and I’m going to look to see how those break down. I only
put in the one value in the dark, or two, just the black of the background and then
this dark value. It’s just one in there. If you reflect the lights and so on in there,
those are a couple of separate values. But I want to get a good gap between the values
that are in the shadow and values in the light. So what I did is I lay in the middle range
of the darks. Now I’m going to lay in kind of the middle range of the lights. I want
to make sure that I get a clear breakup between the light area and the shadowed area. I’m
going to stay with that. I’m going to mix right over in there so I make sure that I
get a good gap between the two. I’m not going to go to my white-white because I’m
going to save that. I just need to get a value range that’s going to be a good jump from
what I’ve already established. Something like this. I’ll lay this in.
Now, there are going to be some value changes within this. But what I want to do is get
this basic middle value in first. If you’re working on a painting where you’re going
to be adjusting and readjusting, you just want to get this shape down first and get
this shape working first before you start breaking into different values and stuff.
I’m just going to get the…
I’m not really messing around with this. I’m just kind of getting in
and I’m getting all of these in this area. I’m just kind of blocking
in kind of simply. Once I start breaking into the different values or breakup of values—this
is a softer form edge over here, so I’m going to allow that to be a softer form edge.
Put these in. We’ll get into some of the details and stuff later. At this point, I
want to just get that basic pattern down that we’ve established in the beginning. This
area down on her neck is just slightly darker so I’m going to go ahead and let that be
a little bit darker in here anyway.
Okay. I’m going to get a little smaller brush in here so I can get some of the smaller
areas back to that same value. Actually, I’m going to make it just a little bit darker
on the shadow side. These smaller areas are going to be surrounded—when they’re surrounded
by the dark you’ve got to paint them down just slightly darker. Otherwise, they’re
going to appear very flat and stand out real strong. I’m painting them a little bit darker
than the light side over there. I’m noticing that her lips are a little bit darker so I’m
going to go ahead and make that adjustment in there.
An approximately similar value is where I’m going to see her hair in this value range too.
dark zone that I want to cover those up just a little bit.
There we go. There is that.
Then I also had an area in her hair here,
I’m going to go ahead and put that in.
Same thing up in here where I can see. This goes a little bit darker up in here near her
part and also over in here. So, there we go. That’s the basic breakdown. As long as I
have a strong contrast between the area in light and the area in shadow, I know the contrast
range that I can put in here. Now, if this is the middle value. I can go a little darker
without getting to the same value here, and I can go lighter. In terms of the areas up
here, I know there is a big enough gap between this value and this value that I can bring
this a little lighter, and it still won’t be as light as that. That’s the important
separation that you need to make and maintain through your painting.
Okay, so I might look at this from the standpoint of saying, okay, I’m going to work with
my—I’ll go back and maybe work with my dark values. I want to work with them and
get these values and make some subtle adjustments with my dark values, I can do that. I’ll
just kind of do that now. I can see that I’m going to get in here and go just a little
bit darker. As this form over her eye turns into the shadow, I need to get a little bit
darker and go into that shadow softly. Same thing over on the inside here. It kind of
comes up a little bit too bright, too fast. There is also an area that is just a little
bit darker. I’m going to take this value and I’m going to go a little bit darker,
and I’m going to see that it’s going to sit right in here. I can go a little bit darker yet.
I can even go just a little bit darker yet.
Okay, so I’m kind of bringing that in. Also, to accentuate the cheek here and get a little bit of a darker kind
of a core cutting in here. I want to make sure that that still stays soft. I’m going to take
and mix an intermediate value in here that is going to make that go a little bit softer.
There we go.
Also, there are some darker areas that are occluded in this area in here. I’m going
to go a little bit darker in this area. Occlusion is pretty much the opposite of reflected light,
if you will; it’s the absence of the light because there is no reflected light bouncing
into a zone. That’s kind of what’s happening down in this area on her face. This side of
her jaw is here, comes up the side, and there is no reflected light into there. It occludes
any amount of light that would normally be getting into that area. If I’m going ahead
and making this just a little bit darker underneath, under where her jaw is, then I’m also going
to see that lightness a little bit under here, and I’m going to get the sense of a little
reflected light on the underside of her jaw as I bring that up in here. I’ll go back
to my middle value in there, make sure that I get that in there. I’m going to see that
on her chin, there is a whole plane on her chin that is going to be turning down just
a little bit. I want to make sure that I get that something like this, softly turns in
there. Same thing if I look at—I’m in my light side now, so I’m going a little
bit darker than the light values, the light middle value, but I can see that I’ve got
some areas on her nose where I’m getting a little bit of darker values because her
nose is a smaller form, and it’s going to reflect less light. I’m seeing that there
is a little bit less, or her nose in this area is a little bit darker than the largest
surfaces on her face, so I’m going to go ahead and put that in.
Okay, so I also can see that up on her forehead there is a turn of a plane here, and as it
turns away from the light, I’m going to go ahead and allow this to get a little bit
darker in here as well, all the way over into here. Then it goes completely into shadow
over there. I get a little bit of a darkening in there. I’m going to see a little darkening
here at the top of her brow ridge, and a little bit on the side plane as it comes around here.
Stay with that. It’s going to get a little bit darker in here right in this area in here.
It’s not complete into shadow. It doesn’t go as dark as this. It’s in light, but it’s
not a complete. It doesn’t go completely into shadow, so you don’t want to make this
extremely dark like in the shadow areas. It’s still part of the light. It has to remain
in that light area. We have to keep it light enough so that it will still fit in that light
area. It doesn’t break into this dark zone. Here is another area in here.
We’re going to put it in real simply.
I can create the edges as I go and adjust the edges as I go.
Anyway, I also see that around her eyelid where there is a little bit of subtle folds
and stuff in there, I’m going to see it’s getting a little bit darker. Yet again, it’s
not going as dark as this in here. It’s just getting subtly darker, and along the
top up in here where the form above her eye starts to turn, it gets a little bit darker
in there. Also, in the little subtle frontal plane there.
Okay, and I’m going to take this darker value of my light area, and I’m going to
go ahead and put it in where I see these planes getting a little bit darker. There we go.
In here and then up in here, much darker.
I’m going to try to bring that down even lower there.
Then I’m going to go back in and reinforce my shape again, my shadow shape.
I broke into the shadow shape a little bit. Let me regain that back again. Once I have
that, I look for my lighter values in the light side now. These might be planes that
are a little bit lighter than the middle value, but not really going to highlights. Highlights
might sit in some of these types of regions. Let me make it a little bit lighter.
There we go.
As these planes turn, we’re going to see a little bit of lights that sit right
in the edges of these planes. Then the planes that do turn.
Let me get this a little bit lighter. Okay.
Now, we time box these paintings for a real reason. The whole purpose of this is to lay
in and get comfortable laying these value groups in fearlessly. If you can get a strong
lay in then you can start to make your painting work. Now, the one thing I would really hesitate
against or advocate to not do is don’t spend more than the allotted time on these paintings.
If you feel like you didn’t get it right, do it again. Start over. Do your drawing.
Take some time with the drawing if you want, but then what I want you to do is when you
do start painting give yourself a half-hour to do these paintings. Don’t give yourself
more time because you’re only going to end up noodling the thing, and that’s not part
of the painting here. This is really about getting real comfortable with your block in.
So, anybody that’s starting out or just wanting to get better at setting their values
and stuff a little more clearly, this is a really good process to do that. I can cut
back in and get more lights in if there is just a shadow over here, kind of pulling over.
I can pull that back in now. Soften and edge up in here. We can also see that I’m going
to lighten just a little bit of area in here to help kind of redefine her nose in this area.
Okay, so you can see how these planes and stuff that I’m laying in here are starting
to pull the forms together. It’s due to the fact that I can set my values into these
two major groups. I’ll go back and since I made her lips a little darker, I need to
go in and get the area of her mouth that goes into shadow as well, and it needs to be a
little darker yet, a little darker than the rest of her skin in shadow. It needs to be
just a little bit darker in there. I have some of these little darker accents or darker
shapes that are really turning the form in here. There is a real tight kind of area in
there, and the same thing—it gets real dark in the shadow area as well.
Okay, so we’re really closing in on our time now, and so what you might do is you
might look at what are the things that are going to really finish this off for the amount
of time that you spend on this, and that’s kind of where I would go. I’d kind of back
off and just say, okay, what’s going to help me clarify my imagery in here. It might
be just a little bit of darkening in here or on the outside if I have some aspects of
her hair that I’m going to get in here, some features in there, if I need to soften
something I can do that. I can get a little bit softer edge in some areas. Work with some
of my edges. Get some of my darker accents. Okay. There we go.
So that’s your basic lay-in. I wouldn’t spend any more time than this. That’s how you can break it down from
just this simple black and white into these different value groups, but you have to get
enough distinction and clarity between the groups, or distance in the values between
groups before you can actually get into putting into these secondary values within each group.
but I’m going to have flat lighting. So, this is what you want to do: You want to look at the value structure
and the groupings of values, so stick with it. Remember, thirty minutes and then stop the clock.
Step away. Good luck.
With this painting, again, this is a lower major key. It’s overall darker. There is
going to be a good proportion of dark within this image. Now, in this situation what I
did is I lit her flatly, so this is more of a notan situation where the greatest contrast
is going to be between the local values, meaning the background as it sits is going to be the
darkest dark, and then her hair and her eyes and her shit and then her face. In a situation
like this, our shadows aren’t the greatest contrast. The greater contrast is between
the local values. As I designed this I set it up that way, so that my darker values I
group together. Then what I’m going to do is I’m going to lay it in the similar way
that I did before. I create a dark pattern or a dark zone. Again, in this case it’s
based on local values, not light and shadow. That’s why you don’t see any shadows across
her face because I didn’t light her that way. In this situation I want you to paint
the local values, and you’re going to set these three value groups. You’re going to
see the background. You’re going to set her hair and her eyes. Then you’re going
to set her skin and her shirt.
Now, you’re going to see some shadowing underneath here, and you can go the appropriate
darkness if you want to do that. If you want to push your painting or push the nature of
this type of painting, then you can lighten this on purpose. What that’ll do is it’ll
give you a little bit of a flatter quality. What we’re going to see in this is when
we get into these three different zones, you’re going to see that the variations in the zones
here are also going to be a little bit more dependent on the change of her local skin
color. When we get into using more hues, you’re going to see a lot more variation in the skin
color, different value and hue here than across here than down in here. And on her neck too.
You’ll start to see those differences.
In here, just with value, we will have a little bit of difference in there. We can look at
in terms of the overall dark on the background is going to have very little contrast within
that dark zone. On her hair there is going to be a little more contrast, so you’re
going to get a couple different divisions of value within the zone of her hair. Then
within her face we’re going to get a greater amount of contrast in that zone, so we can
look at it in three zones when we set something up like this. After you’ve drawn your drawing,
and you’ve taken your time to do the drawing you want, now what I want you to do is, again,
let’s time box this to thirty minutes and give yourself 30 minutes to do this lay-in
and get your value grouping accurate.
So, I’m going to start now and put in my 30 minutes to show you how I can do that.
I’ll start with the darkest dark. Again, I don’t want to go to just black-black,
so I’m going to lighten it just a little bit so that I’m allowing for some dark accents
if I want. Later on I can adjust for that. I’m going to go ahead and lay that in. You can lay this in as thick as you want.
I’m putting it a little bit thinner just so I can move a little bit quicker here. These
studies are really, really important for you to get your confidence in laying in your paintings.
A lot of starts is really, really important. The more starts you can do and sketches like
this—now, this is on 11 x 14 panel. You don’t need to go bigger than this. There
is no need to go bigger. You could paint a little bit smaller, and that’s fine too.
What I suggest is really just stay to the time box on these so you just get comfortable
with the pace and blocking in these values. I’m going to see that some of my darks go
all the way into here. They kind of lose her hair into the background a little bit. Even
into some of the areas here. Kind of lose that just a little bit. That comes down to
just below her cheek here right where her hair starts to get a little bit, changes a
little bit in color down around towards the ends here. It’s dark in here around her
ear. We’re starting to get a little bit of a change up in here.
So, now I’ve laid the dark in the background, this solid dark in here, and I’ve brought
it into her hair zone in here. I’m going to lighten this up to get the other value
in the zone of her hair. I’m going to see that there is an area in here where we’re
getting a little bit of a reflected light or a direct light since it’s kind of soft
kind of a quality there. Seeing it on here as well. Even a lighter value, lighter value
in here too. So, here is our little change of value in there. Now you notice on this
painting what I did is I went ahead and adjusted a couple of values within that zone just because
they’re so subtle. I went ahead and put those in. I’m going to go back to the background
value again just to change up this shape. I got a little bit too wide out here. There
we go. Okay, so now I’m going to lay in the values in her face. I’m going to lay
in this middle value of her skin in light. I would make sure that it’s a good step
away from that, the dark values. I’m not doing light and shadow again. What I’m doing
is I’m looking at these value groups. This situation, again, like I said, this is a notan
scenario where the greater value difference is between the local values. I’m just making
sure that I do keep a good gap between those so that I can just approach the painting in
quite the similar way that I did with my last painting, except the shapes that I’m creating
in this painting are less about the form of light going into shadow
and really more about local values.
Okay, and I’m going to go ahead and leave this a little bit dark in here, where
I’m seeing her skin go into shadow quite a bit down underneath her jaw in there. I
can see that I’m going to drop her ear back a little bit. Okay, that’s going to have
to go softly in there. I’ll go a little darker. Okay, and then under her chin there
like that. Now, I may paint this just a little bit lighter than I see it, and the reason
I’m doing that is because if my intention here is to make a painting that has this flatter
type of lighting, then what I’m going to do is I’m going to minimize the form. I’m
not going to try to push the form, the contrast of form, because that’s not what this painting
is about. The more you try to push it, the more contradictory you’re going to be with
your painting. So, you want to create a thorough and complete and harmonious image. If that’s
not the main point or the main thrust of your painting, then don’t get hung up on trying
to exaggerate the amount of form you’re representing. Again, I’m lightning this
just a little bit on purpose. I may go down and darken a little bit more as I lay in the
different value groups in here. I’ll go ahead and put some of those in.
So, I’m going to go—now that I laid in these values in here, my background, a couple
subtle contrast values in the hair, now I’m going to add some of the value differences
in her face, and I see that her lip, her upper lip and mouth is a little bit darker, and
I’m going to go ahead and put that in. I do see a little bit of a shadow under her
lip, which I’m going to go ahead and lay in with this little bit darker value here
like that. Kind of gradient off like that. Now, a little lighter than that and some of
the darker region. A little lighter than that I can see in her cheeks. That’s a little
bit too dark or too light. Let me get a little bit darker so we can see a little bit more
in here. A little bit more value contrast in here. Again, this is going to depend on
her skin tone. This whole area down here, the whole area down here seems to get a little
bit darker than her forehead up there. I’m going to go ahead and bring that down just a little bit more.
And then her nose. I’m going to see a little bit darker in there like that.
Now, I do see some darker accents, and you’ll see them in the photographs too, but what
I’m doing right now is I’m looking at the larger local values. I’m trying to get
my contrast of these local values in here. I do see her cheeks going a little bit darker
in here. There is a broad—we see a little bit more of the side of her face here, so
it’s a little bit broader and a little bit softer down in here like that. Above her eyes
over here going to see a little bit more. Let me darken this just a little bit more.
In her face zone here we’re going to get darker or a little bit more contrast in the
zone of her face then we will in the rest of her zones, her hair or the background.
We can be a little bit more liberal with the range of contrast in here. Make sure that
none of these get quite as dark as some of these other values in these other zones. They
can come close, but if you start to make them the same, they’re going to look like you
punched a whole from area into the other. Her eye sockets are going to become the same
as the background. So, when it starts to look kind of funny that way you know you’ve gone too far.
So, for some of you this might be kind of a different approach to making the painting
because it’s not all about the form. But, if you just look at the pattern and lighting
that I’ve created here, you’re going to see that there is a different type of lighting
and a different type of handling on this. That’s really important to your study of
painting, that you do paint under different lighting conditions. Don’t just always paint
under the same lighting condition because you’ll start to kind of make up rules, make
up ideas and preconceived ideas about how everything works, only because you’re only
painting one lighting condition. That you really have to kind of watch. That’s a potential
trap that you can kind of avoid, if you will. I’m going to bring this just a little bit
darker in here since I went ahead and made it a little darker in there. And things are
starting to take shape a little bit more.
Transcription not available.
completely different again. It’s overall light with some high contrast in there. We have a strong directional
light. You see a light side and a shadow side. As you go through this, again, don’t get frustrated with it, just stick
with it and get your drawing. If you feel confident drawing as you go, great.
But, if you want to draw it first, sketch it out first but then start the clock. Okay. And stop it at 30.
I do as I attempt the same painting. I’m going to walk through it just real simply
in 30 minutes. Here we go. Now, for this painting, what we’re going to do is we’re going
to lay in our white and black pattern first. This painting you can see there is a strong
light direction coming from the left over here on her, leaving this shadow shape working
on here. The first thing that you want to do is identify the light and dark areas of
greatest contrast. In this painting, this is the pattern of my darks against this light.
This painting is going to be a high major key, meaning most of the painting is going
to be light. It’s overall light and then it also has a lot of high contrast. So, if
it’s minor key that contrast range is going to be high. But again, we’re going to look
at the value groups. In this painting, we might see in the light area there is a few
different values. In the shadow area there is a few different values that are represented
in the black here.
So, the two most distinctive contrasting groups, again, that is your tonal matrix. This is
your image matrix. This one happens to be, again, with a strong lighting over here and
a strong shadow over here. This one is dependent on Chiaroscuro or designed by the division
of form in light versus shadow. Or that’s the way we look for it in our drawing and
setting it up. Now that you’ve mapped that out we’re going to lay in the values accordingly.
I’m going to start with some of my darker values. Even though this painting is going
to be overall light, I still want to start with some of my darker values to put those
in first. It’s just a little easier to put the white over than putting the dark values
over white paint. So, I’m going to start with my darkest dark that I’m going to establish here.
I’m going to get a little bit of a light into it because I want to save a little
bit of my blackest black in there. I’ll get my dark started—what appears in this
painting is going to be something like this. Let me bring this down just a little bit.
Okay, so these are some of my darkest darks. I can see a shadow kind of in the curl of
her hair here. There is some shadows in her hair here. Some of this is local value too.
I want to make sure that I get a little bit of a distinction in there. Some of these shapes
in here. These are my darkest darks. I’m not going to leave it all spotty with this
because what I’m going to do is I’m going to immediately put in the lighter value in
this dark zone so that I’m not jumping around on my painting. That’s what you want to
do. You want to work from one area that’s next to another area and make sure you get
those values set up so that they read well next to one another. Okay.
From this her skin is just slightly darker than this, so I’m going to go back into
this value. I’m going to mix a good amount of it. I want to get a little bit darker than
that to get the basic value of her skin in shadow.
I’m just going to put these in in the area that I drew there.
This is just some little subtle values in here that I’m going
to get along this edge before I put the lighter value in. It’s just that I see that are
in that same value as her skin in shadow. And you can see there is a little area under
here, this is kind of a half-light in here. It doesn’t go all the way into the zone
of shadow. If I make this dark like this, I’m going to cut a hole in her face because
it’s going to look like it turns around completely. It only goes halfway. It doesn’t
go all the way around. That plane doesn’t turn all the way away from the light,
so it only goes partially around.
Now I’m going to go into my area of light, so I’m going to make sure that I get a
different value. I’m going to make sure—I’m going to mix it right next to it here.
And I’m going to make sure that I maintain a good distance, a good jump,
and I’m going to go even further, okay, to make sure that I get a good,
broad gap in the difference in the value. I’m going to mix this very
different in value here, so I can get a good, strong contrast between these two.
I’m going to lay this shape in now.
Again, this is like the middle value of my lighter zone.
This is a cast shadow down there, so this edge
is a little harder. This one is soft because it’s some of her hair. There is going to
be a little bit of a difference in there. I’ll just kind of keep that soft.
Okay, shadowing in here, so I’m going to bring the shadow in here like that. I’ll
come back with my light value and go ahead and put that in here. Sometimes what I might
do is I might put some subtle variations in this midtone as I’m laying it in, but I’m
not doing it on purpose here so that you guys can see how I build out from the middle value.
If I go straight into those values it’s just because I’ve been looking at it for
awhile, and I’ve been making those assessments early on, and I don’t want it to be misleading,
so I’m going to just go straight ahead with my basic middle value for this zone. Then
I’ll go back in and adjust the little fine details of the separate values
within each value group.
Okay, so I’m going to darken this slightly because I know I’m going to get onto the
shadow side over here, so I’m going to darken this a little bit. That’s what I’m going
to see above her eyelid here.
And same thing on her cheek.
It’s kind of soft in there.
And I’m also going to see that her lips are a little bit darker, so I’m going to
lay those in with a little bit darker value too.
Okay, now, again, these are areas in light.
They just happen to be the darker side of any value in the light side. And I’m
going to see the same thing. I’m going to see it over in here. You’ll notice that
this isn’t as dark as anything on the shadow side, so I’m keeping this fairly light.
Instantly, with a couple of these things you can start to see there is a little bit of
form. I’m starting to build a little bit of form now.
Now, the form on her nose here, there is going to be, her nose is a smaller form.
It's going to appear a little darker. It’s going to be a little darker local value.
It's a little too dark.
And I’m going to also see that it’s, I get a little bit of turn
on the plane up here, and that turn I’m going to represent with a little bit of that
darker value in there and also in here where there is kind of a soft passage. I’m going
to lighten that up a little bit more just to bring that lightness down into that area.
So, you can see how things are starting to build now. I haven’t really done too much
more than just those initial values. Initial values meaning I put in my dark, the darkest
of the hair. Then I put in the medium value in her hair. Now, it was all in that black
zone or that black matrix, and that’s continually what I’m building off of. I can see I’m
going to go back into my shadow because I have a little area in here that’s really
in shadow. I want to make sure that I get that right. I’m rebuilding that shape just a little bit.
Keeping it pretty soft.
Okay, now what I’m going to do is, because of the direction of this light source, I’m
going to see that this gets a little bit darker over in here. Not extremely dark, but just
a little bit darker because, again, it’s like in a half-light just like down below.
Also, right here.
I’m going to rebuild some of my shape just a little bit because I lost
it up in here. Her hairline comes up in here, and then it’s soft.
I’m going to go to the light side. I’m putting my medium value. Now I’m going to go to the value that’s a little bit
lighter working in that zone, and I’m going to see there is an area that is a little bit lighter.
It’s above her brow on her forehead here. I’m going to make it a little lighter yet.
Now I can go in and get a little bit lighter light in here.
Soften that up just a little bit.
Then I’m going to also see that I’m going to get a little bit under her eye here.
Get a little bit lighter in there. Also, just under the hair of her brow, the ridge of her bone, her brow goes up above
the ridge of her bone. I’m going to see a little bit of the lighter value in there.
I’ll go back up to the middle value and pull this lower, pull her jaw back down here where it needs to be.
There we go.
There we go.
Then she’s got a pretty bright plane down here on her neck as well that’s catching a lot of light from that
light direction, so I’m going to make sure I get that in there.
And as it picks up here I’m going to see that right in here we got a little bit.
My skin tone gets a little lighter down here.
Okay, so with those things, with all of these kind of set in here, I can go back now and I can go back into some
of the darker darks now and see if I can’t bring out some of the darker accents. You can see how I got
some of these planes going, and now I can go into a little bit darker. Like I had started up here, I can make
this front plane just a little bit darker here so that it reads like a rounder form on her head there.
I can go into some of my darker accents now too.
I’ll go back in and get some of the darks in here on the other side. These are going to be really subtle too.
Alright, going back into this dark in here and picking some of this up just a little bit.
Also, getting a little bit lighter in here.
Get that shape a little better.
And then I can go back with a little bit of the darker on the outside of her nostril here.
Again, these are just subtle little value shifts working within that range.
The background isn’t quite as bright as that, but it is fairly light.
I’m going to go ahead and put that in.
I’m keeping it fairly soft as it goes against her head just because it’s going to make her hair feel a little bit softer,
and I can always find those areas where I want to make it a little bit harder edge,
but I can cut into those areas if I want.
Okay, so this is overall lighter, and I’m going to go back with my dark and just make sure that I can reconstruct.
Her hairline is a little high, so I’m going to bring that down in here
just to make that shape a little bit better.
I want to soften this up just a little bit.
Okay, so we can determine where we want the harder edges and softer edges.
If I want this side of her face to blend softly into there, I can do that, and then hanging on to a little bit over here.
I can do that. Got a little bit bold with her cheekbone up there, but I can pull that back just a little bit.
Get my last couple little bits of mid-value in the shadow area on her neck.
I want to make sure that I’m back into this darker zone like that. There we go.
Just lightening this plane a little bit in here. Then I want to make sure that the transition is lighter yet.
Okay, with about a minute left here. I’m just going to look for just these subtle transitions.
Subtle transitions into the shadows that are going to come back here that can pull back into this shadow.
Okay, our time is about up.
And if I have a bit more time, what I do is I go in and get some of these little subtle value shifts that happen
in some of these areas. We’ll just kind of finish this, like finish her eye off like that.
Then capturing some of the highlights we have in here,
across the bridge of her nose up in here. Let me put a little bit up in there.
Along this plane right in here, and then follow down the side of her nose.
Soften this up.
There we go. Okay, so that’s all we’re going to do on this one.
Get the edge a little bit better there. There we go.
On this painting I set up the lighting again. It’s a light background.
There is a lot of contrast, but I put flat lighting on the model. Okay, so you aren’t going to see as strong a
contrast between light versus shadow, but you will see the arrangement of values.
You’ll see some subtleties in her face and less subtleties in the background,
and less subtleties in her hair. That’s what the lesson is about. Good luck.
confident as we go. Now, I’m going to take a turn, and you can see again how I approach
this type of lighting condition.
Okay, this painting is going to be another high key painting. It’s going to be a high
key painting, so it’s overall light. There is going to be a good amount of contrast in
this one as well. The lightest is going to be her top, lightest value, and then it’s
going to be the background. Then it’s going to be her skin. Then it’s going to be her
hair. Those are her four value groups, so I blocked it in and blocked in the two darkest
groups. I’m going to lay that in first, my darkest values in first. I’ll lay that
in first. Then I’ll block in those simple shapes. Then I’m going to look for the range
of contrast within each zone. I’m going to look at the range of contrast in the background,
the range of contrast in her blouse, the range of contrast in her skin, and the range of
contrast in her hair. It comes down to just kind of a couple simple ideas like that, and
if you just keep that in your mind as you’re approaching this, and as I step you through
this, you’re going to be able to block things in a lot more clearly and have a little bit
more success. So, like I said, I’m going to start with the darker values and that of
her hair in here.
Okay, so there is my darkest value in there, and I’m going to lighten the value
just a little bit to get her hair as the shades in her hair get a little bit lighter. I can
get a little bit lighter that way. That’ll be my range of contrast in her hair. It’s
going to be fairly subtle because it’s just the local values changing in her hair. With
this frontal kind of flat lighting, that’s what going to occur more than just hard light
versus shadow. Again, this is more notan dominant, so we’re going to see more contrast within
the local values then we are between areas of light versus shadow. I’m going to get
some of these lighter areas of her hair, and then—there we go.
Okay, then I’m going to look to the next darkest area, and I’m going to see that
the next darkest area are going to be areas that appear as some of the darker areas on
her skin. Might be under here and very close in value to her hair, the lighter portions
of her hair. I want to make sure that I can get the right value there.
I’ll come back and adjust these shapes just a little bit as I need.
Lighten this up a little bit.
Okay, so these are all lighter in here than this over in her hair. Then I’m going to go to
the mid tone of her skin. I’m going to jump right in to the mid tone of her skin. The
large area in here. I’m going to go a little bit lighter yet.
Alright, I’m getting a little lighter areas in here. I’ll get up into her eye in here.
This is all in this mid-value range. I’ll put that in first before I start breaking
anything down too much more.
There we go.
Okay, so there we have just the basic block-in there. I’m going to go ahead and
lay the background in as well. I’m going to get all my value groups, my large value groups.
Okay, now my background is a little bit lighter than her skin, so I’m going
to make sure that it stays a little bit lighter than her skin. I also see that there is a
little bit of breakup in there too, just the type of material back there.
I’m going to get a little bit of breakup in that too. I want to make sure that I get my shape in here.
Okay, so I know in the background I also have a couple little—there is a little breakup
of pattern back there. I’m going to give a little bit in there just to make sure that
we get some difference. If we’re really looking at the value, the value contrast within
each group, so this group in the background does have some, so I’m going to block some
of that in. Go ahead and put some of that in. Then what I’m going to do is I’ll
put in the value of her blouse, and her blouse is very white so I’m going to make sure
that it stays pretty white. I don’t have a whole lot of room in here, so what I’m
going to do is just give a little indication of that, so we know what our value is in there.
That’s what we’re working with. We want to make sure that wherever we go we aren’t
going as light as this either on the background, the skin, or her hair.
I’ll go back to her skin tone now, and I’ll look at some of the little bit darker values of her skin tone.
Going to get her shoulder in here.
And her other shoulder back here.
can put my shapes in here so they don’t bump up against these values. I can start
breaking things down from there.
I’m going to look for some of the areas where we have
a little bit darker values that are kind of obvious within her face, within this zone.
I’m going to be looking for all of those. We can get a little bit of a turn, a plane
with a little bit of this as it goes softly into shadow as well and along our jawline.
Okay, so we can start to build the turn there. Identify that there is a darker area in here.
Now, because this is more of a notan scenario in here we’re going to be looking at the
local values in her cheeks and bits of her nose in here. There is going to be a little
bit darker values. Some areas in here.
Okay, so we’ll find those little areas in there.
Also under her lip in here, actually there is, this is really more the value of her lip
in there. Underneath it’s just a little bit darker.
I’ll go ahead and make that a little bit darker yet under her lip there.
Okay, so I’m going to go back now and reinforce some of my shapes. I’ll pull back some of
my shapes, like her eyebrow back in here again. I can start getting her eye in. There we go.
Okay, so back to some of these dark areas here.
There we go. Some of the dark into her hair again. Let me get back to that value again.
I can then go back in and darken some of these areas just a little bit more.
I reinforce some of those darks around, I can do that all over.
By just going through and working with your groups, you can see how it can just keep working
into this and keep working into this if I had more time. The main thing is I want to
get those simple groups. If I’ve got very little contrast here, but the lightest with
little contrast and then this zone with this amount of contrast, now I’ve got, you know,
her face where I want to put more contrast or the most contrast in the image.
Then her hair is the darkest zone in there. It’s not as dark. It’s not as contrasty as the
area in here. This area in here is going to keep our focus because it’s going to be
the area of greater contrast. I’ve set it up to be the area of greatest contrast because
that’s the way we started out, and that’s the way we’re just continuing all the way
through. Just kind of working that area. This area with a little bit of contrast, making
sure that we stay within our contrast zone. By that I mean, again, background has its
contrast zone. Skin has its contrast, hair has its contrast, and this down in here it’s
its contrast. So, we’re working all of those areas all together keeping them all the same.
Or, we’re keeping them all relative to one another to make sure that we get everything
relative. We can do that simply with these value groups.
There we go. We’ll just need to reconstruct that little hair in there.
Because this area in here, I want to have this kind of frontal lit quality, I’m looking
at all the little things that, you know, that just kind of stand out rather than get into
a whole lot of breakup of heavy contrasting planes because there isn’t those. I’m
looking at the little subtle areas where I’m picking up some variations in subtle tonal value.
So as I get down to the last little bits, what I’m looking at is getting just these subtle relationships.
You can see that in just 30 minutes you can get a lot done,
but the main thing is get a system for laying it in. So, you get a system for laying in
your image, and really pay attention to your greatest contrast and your biggest shapes,
and then look at your values in groups. And you break them down by group, and you’ll
be able to get a nice balance between the value relationships, and you’ll be painting
in your mid-value and a little bit lighter, little bit darker. Same thing in here, same
thing in here, and it’ll all come together nicely for you in just a few minutes.
But, it’s practicing your starts that is going to give you the confidence to jump in
and develop a painting even further than this. So, I’m going to repeat that I don’t want
you to work longer than 30 minutes on these pieces. These are just 30-minute little exercises
to get you to look and focus on what your value grouping is. This isn’t a portrait
class. It’s not a rendering class, so don’t spend more time than that, and if you want
to do another one—if this one didn’t work out for you, if you want to do another one,
spend another 30 minutes and start all over again. Do a nice drawing or spend the time
on your drawing if you want. But, then when you lay it in, just lay it in simply in these
simple value groups.
So, that concludes our first session on value. I hope you stuck with it, and you didn’t
paint beyond the 30 minutes on each painting. One more thing: If you decide that you want
another attempt. Don’t continue to paint on these paintings is just do another one.
Just start the timer and just paint another one. See how far you go with that one. If
you feel like you went slow on this first set, do it again. Take them one at a time
and give yourself the 30 minutes. You might find that you’ll get a little farther and
a little farther each time. That’s perfectly fine. So, that concludes this session.
Our next session we’re going to start focusing on saturation of color.
Free to try
1. Lesson overview1m 7sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Introduction: Identifying high/low and major/minor keys12m 16s
3. Assignment 1: Low major key, high minor key31m 13s
4. Bill's approach to assignment 1: Part 116m 7s
5. Bill's approach to assignment 1: Part 216m 6s
6. Assignment 2: Low major key, medium minor key30m 42s
7. Bill's approach to assignment 2: Part 116m 42s
8. Bill's approach to assignment 2: Part 216m 7s
9. Assignment 3: High major key, high minor key30m 50s
10. Bill's approach to assignment 3: Part 116m 54s
11. Bill's approach to assignment 3: Part 214m 52s
12. Assignment 4: Medium major key, high minor key30m 49s
13. Bill's approach to assignment 4: Part 113m 15s
14. Bill's approach to assignment 4: Part 217m 25s