- Lesson details
The understanding of value and value relationships is essential to capturing the desired light effect of a scene. In this painting lesson, Ben explains the importance of the overall relationship, and how to plan your values.
Landscape painting in a studio compared to painting on-location are completely different experiences, each with their own set of challenges to face. Painting landscapes on-location means you’re faced with constantly changing natural lighting, as well as nature, but the experience itself can really make your inspiration flow.
In this painting course, Artist Ben Fenske teaches you the fundamentals of landscape painting through a series of lessons. These lessons include easy to follow instruction, analysis of famous landscape paintings, and demonstrations shot on-location, to help you better your painting skills.
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What are values? And I want to show you how to make a value plan for
your painting. So first thing, what are values? Values are how light or dark something is
relative to anything else. Most people think of values as being a sort of black and
white world. So you can imagine a scale or a gradation,
and maybe actually I’ll do it this way.
Let’s imagine a value scale like this.
Let's put pure black at this end and let's put pure white at the other end.
And I want to have a gradation of everything in between those two.
So there's an infinite number of values in between white and black.
So this would be called a value scale and most people
usually divide this up into 10 values.
So I said there's an infinite number of values and there are, but it's useful to
talk about things in a more simple way.
So if we imagine that pure black is down here
and again pure white is here,
I’m gonna divide this into 10 categories.
So this is also called the low end of the scale and this is the high
end of the scale. You can think about it like a musical note.
You have a low note and a high note.
It's the same thing here.
We have a low note, which is the pure black, and high notice is pure white.
I’m just gonna mix up a neutral color here.
I’m just mixing up a neutral black.
Okay. So masses can be thought of both in terms of value and color.
Let’s just look at how to go about dividing masses.
So a lot of people are aware that there are different objects in the landscape.
That's kind of how we talk, we talk about that's a tree,
that's a sky, that's a rock.
We have all these names for different objects.
But painters don't think about things that way, they think about groups of things.
And you might think about some things that are different objects that group together, because maybe
they're all in a shadow and have a similar value.
Or maybe they're completely different objects,
but they have a similar value and color.
Let's just take a look at what I mean here.
So let's draw a few objects.
I'm going to draw the road
going into the painting. Or a path. I'm going to draw a tree in the background.
Several trees actually, which I'm already grouping together now.
I’m gonna draw a tree in the foreground going off the page a bit.
I’m gonna draw some tree trunks and branches.
Maybe another tree. And maybe I'll draw a mountain in the background and some clouds.
So right now I've outlined a few objects.
But I haven't really decided about masses because I haven't thought about light and shadow.
I haven't thought about values.
But already to get to this stage I had to do a lot of interpreting.
I had to interpret where is the edge of this tree exactly because it's not very
clear outside. There's lots of leaves, especially in the foreground.
The edge of the tree needs to be interpreted.
The edge of the mountain is a little bit easier to interpret because it's so far
in the distance. And there might be all kinds of grass in this field growing different
flowers let’s say. There’s millions of leaves in this tree, millions of lives in this tree, there's a little -
maybe there's a little fence going back here,
a couple fence posts, and more grass here.
Lots of grass. But we have to take all this information and divide it into masses.
And a good picture will have clear masses, interesting shapes interlocking.
Let me show you what I mean by that.
So I’m gonna imagine the light - sunlight affect light coming from this direction
and that will start to throw certain things into shadow.
And I'm going to imagine a cast shadow going across the road.
And another cast shadow and a shadow in this tree back here. And I'm going to
have to again interpret. If I feel that there's enough difference between the shadow and a
light or if I feel that's an important distinction to make, I want to make two masses
hero, a shadow mass and a light mass. So I'm going to draw, again
I'll have to interpret where the edge is.
But I feel that's important enough and I won't draw distinctions.
So I'm starting to think what things can I group together and how can I
interpret those shapes to make two dimensional shapes on the canvas?
A lot of times you can start to think of big masses and then
subdivide them. So in this case,
I have a lot of shadows and I'm going to try to group them all together
in a shadow mass first. So I'm going to just kind of lightly
define that shadow mass. Just so you can imagine what it's going to look like.
So this is an abstract shape now of similar
colors and value that you might find in your in your picture.
And you can look at how certain objects become connected when you do this.
So the path and the field on the other side of the path start to connect
to the tree, to the fence. And you start to arrive at an abstract shape of
similar value in this case. And fairly similar color too.
So let's just look at this abstract shape.
Now okay, I've looked at my scene and I've come up with - I've drawn in
the objects and now I see that some of those objects, the shadows of some of
those objects, connect to make this interesting abstract shape
into a shadow mass. So I'm thinking
abstractly this shape now it's - if I were just to trace around this or let's just
trace around that shape again.
Maybe I'll do it in a different color so I can just see
what's going on there. Let’s just trace around this abstract shape, starts here, comes down here,
up and around, comes up here.
There's a little piece of it here.
It's disconnected. It's kind of an island.
And it comes around the outside of the object, comes down here, it connects to the
shadow of the tree behind it,
all the way down here, back onto the path and around, up.
So you can start to see that there's an abstract shape that these objects form under
certain lighting conditions. So this would be called a shadow
mass. And it’s up to the - it's up to the painter to make these interpretations and distinctions.
But this would be a common one, on a sunlight effect to try to group some
of the - some of the shadows together. Because often they're of very similar color and value.
So in the - let's move a little bit to the background or middle ground.
We might find another mass.
In this case another shadow mass.
And this one is going to be probably a little bit lighter.
So it's not the same mass as this one though.
It's a different mass. And again,
I have to interpret the shape of that mass.
And now we can start to look at the picture two dimensionally and abstractly.
So now we have some shadow masses interpreted.
And it's up to the artist again how to interpret those. I could divide this into
smaller masses. I could include the light, sunlight hitting the top of the tree.
I could include that in this mass if they're similar enough or if I want to
make them similar enough. So it's really it's up to the painter to decide
what are the masses and to interpret them.
But it's important to make those distinctions.
So let's look at another mass.
Let's look at a - let’s look now at the shape of the sky
mass. I’ll just outline that in white. So now the shape of the sky mass
I'm going to outline in white here.
It's this two-dimensional abstract shape.
Okay, and there might be a few little islands or what are called sky holes
within the pieces of the sky mass that are now inside of the tree shadow
mass Are we going to look at for interesting two dimensional shapes of those as well.
Okay. So now I've got our the sky mass is outlined.
I'm just going to sort up lightly
paint that in. So I've decided I've interpreted the sky, I said in the context of
this picture everything in the sky is similar enough that I want to group that together
and identify that as a specific mass.
So I'll just kind of make this a similar color and value.
And in this case, I'm going to say that the clouds are so similar
in color and value to the sky that I'll just group them all together right now.
Okay, so I'm thinking about this as a flat two-dimensional shape.
And there are little bits of the sky mass appearing here and here.
And I have taken information from nature and interpreted those shapes as well.
So now I have a shadow mass, foreground shadow mass,
I have a middle ground
shadow mass. And I might just make a distinction right away between those things.
I'll start making them separate. So everything in this shadow is so similar in color and
value that I want to mass it together.
And I want to distinguish it from this mass.
Okay, so I've got three masses to find now.
A good picture usually will have, I would say try to keep your masses under seven.
If you have more than seven masses you're not really simplifying and you're not really making
decisions. Let's look at a few other masses.
I have this field that I said was full of
all kinds of variety of flowers and grasses and different colors.
But it's all similar enough that I want to just group it all together.
Again, that's my interpretation of it.
So when I'm deciding if I need to group this all together or split it into several
masses, I need to look around the picture and I need to say is all of
this different enough from this and this trying to organize all the information.
So if it's similar to the sky I can group it in with the sky. In this
case it's not if it's similar to any of the other masses I can start your
group together. In this case I'm finding that its own separate mass that needs its own
color and general color and general value. So again,
I'm finding the I have to interpret the exact edge of this mess.
And it doesn't always have to be
a sharp edge or sharp line. So maybe in some places
it starts to dade into the next mass but the important thing is to have a
distinction between the masses so before you
start - before you start weaving things together
it's important to at least conceptually
divide things apart. Let me see, there's another piece of that same mass,
but it's over here. And there's another piece right here.
There's another piece right here.
And some of these things I'm designing specifically.
to - or I’m interpreting designing specifically to show that there's a tree here as a
tree trunk here. There’s a fence post here so I want to design the shape of
that around that. There's another piece of that mass continuing.
Okay. What's keep going? What's find a mass for the mountain and again,
it could be two masses.
It can be one, it can be grouped in with something else.
This is what you have to decide
as a painter. In this case,
I'm going to say it has its own
color, general color, general value. And we might see that a little island of that mountain
there. I’m gonna put some of the sky back in here,
okay. So you can see how this messes, they
don't have to be connected all the time.
They can have little pieces of them - pieces of them inside of other masses.
And we're almost finished here.
Let's make a mass for the path and sunlight
and another one, let’s fill in the tree and sunlight. So the key here is think about
these abstract shapes, think about them two dimensionally, and the other, the other key thing to
remember is that you have to interpret these things, they're not always apparent.
The skill of painting is being able to take all of that information,
simplify it into these bigger masses and it takes a lot of practice.
Let’s make a general - come up with a general tone for the for the sunlight
portion of the trees. Okay so far this is looking very flat and very graphic.
And that's really the point of this concept.
It's a concept of make it - taking all the information, organizing it into two
dimensional shapes, trying to see if you can link some of them some of the similar
shapes. And link things that might not necessarily be the same object.
But they're similar enough that you can link them together.
And I might say I might say subdivide this mass and say actually this portion of
the shadow mass is more similar to this.
But basically that's the idea of two dimensional shapes
and taking all the information.
Organizing it into those two dimensional shapes.
So the skill of the painter is to make interesting shapes, to interpret it in a
way that the shape will appear to the viewer like a shadow of a tree.
That's skill might be
called job. You might have to interpret the character of this tree, the character of this
edge, because you can't paint every leaf.
You can't paint around every leaf.
You cannot trace around every branch, every leaf, every blade of grass.
So you have to interpret information and interpret it in such a way that it still appears
like a tree. That's the hardest part about panting really.
So let's take a look at the idea of gradations and variety in a mass.
So there might be variety in these masses . If we stopped here,
this would be a pretty boring picture.
We could say it's very organized.
But it's a pretty boring picture doesn't look very realistic.
There's not enough variety.
Before I do that, I might have to mix up more black and I don't have
black in the palettes so I'll mix it by using a
combination of - there’s several ways to do it. I’ll use a combination of alizarin, phthalo green,
ultramarine, and maybe a bit of transparent brown oxide.
And I’ll just make what they call a chromatic black.
See what that looks like.
Okay, that looks maybe too blue to me
so I need to add
maybe a bit of this transparent brown.
So that's kind of a cold black that I mixed up, had a lot of blue in
it. I'm going to see what this looks like now.
That's more like what I want.
Okay, so I’ve got a black mixed up.
Let’s put down that first
value. And so I’m aiming for this range here.
That's pretty good. So I'm going to - this will be my first category.
It's also going to be the darkest thing in my painting.
So I'm interpreting a shadow pattern, I’m dividing light from shadow.
So that's the low end of the painting, this is the
darkest thing in my painting.
I might want to figure out what's the light - what's the lightest thing in the painting
is and I think it's probably going to be the sky.
And I think I want to make a distinction, a clear distinction, between the sky
and the clouds so I'll make two values for the sky.
Start out with something pretty close to white.
Maybe this one for the sky, the second one down.
And I don't have to use these specific values, I can use
in my scheme, I could have three values in this range.
For example, like I said,
there's an infinite number of values.
I don't need to use some of the, one of these predetermined values by the scale.
This is just a way that people often talk about the value scale in these ten
categories, but I might build a whole painting
out of seven values that are all in this range right here.
Or six values here in case of this.
I can fill the whole painting so I don't need to use the whole scale and
I don't need to use
each individual square separately actually,
I think I'm just going to get rid of that system because I personally don't like
to think about it that way.
But it is a way that people often talk about it.
I'm just going to get rid of these divisions.
Okay, something in the very high-end or very light end of the scale for the sky.
If I was outside, I would actually be making observations right now as to how light
I want to make this,
how does it relate to the next thing down.
Okay, and I think I want to make the clouds
very close to this value
but just a little bit lighter.
And probably not pure white but something very close to it.
And so for me, I'm driving to an important distinction between these two very close values.
Okay so clouds. So now I have used three values already.
And I’m gonna make observations and I want to say that
all this field is really light, it’s getting a lot of sunlight.
It's just another small step down from the sky value.
So I’ll mix that up. And I might be somewhere there.
Okay, so I've already used four values
and I’m kind of running out of values.
Still have the - in order to simplify this painting enough to understand it.
I've got some trees in the middle ground, some trees
just beyond that. I’ve got a hill here, a mountain,
I've got the sunlit portion of this tree and I’ve got this path.
And I might have to start looking at
maybe this mountain in the distance is the same value as the field.
And I'll look out there and I'll make observations.
And I think it is.
So I can see how some of these values are the same throughout the picture.
So there's a distant mountain
that's the same value as the foreground field.
I know I definitely want to have a distinction here.
So I'll mix up another value for the light portion of the tree.
Okay. Now I have used
let’s see one, two, three, four, five values. I've really got two left.
And in fact the value that I just used might be almost identical to these trees
back here. It might be the same as these trees as well.
It might all be very similar values.
So I have one, two, three.
One, two, three, four, five, still have two more.
I think I'll I'll create another I've only mixed one shadow value so far
I'll do another shadow value.
And I’ll use it for the cast shadow.
Actually, maybe I'll just - I don't need it.
I'm going to just group these things together.
Maybe. I don't know trying to figure it out.
Trying to make this thing read simply.
So I'll come up with a different value for the cast shadow.
And that same value might be part of the shadow of this tree.
And cast shadow as well. I'll bring this value in to represent the path.
in Shadow and I'll bring the the path would say it's a sort of a dirt
road. Possibly that it's the same value as the sky is, the blue sky.
So I'll just make it like that.
And I’ve still got one left for the back hill.
And I might not even need it.
I just - maybe it's similar enough,
maybe all these things are similar enough in value.
I can just make them all, these trees the back hill,
they might be very similar value.
And there's a - there’s one cloud in there that I want to distinguish.
Although it's so light, I'll just have to use the same sky color for it.
But I want to pull it over, this cumulus cloud.
Okay, so that's a very simple version of a value plan.
And I'm imagining that I'm on on-site.
I'm in the field and I'm making an observation.
So now when I move forward with the painting I know very clearly I have very
clearly in my mind not only how light and dark I want to make things but
in what order they go in. So here just to be clear
we got the lightest things are the clouds,
then the sky and the path
and then the field next to the back hill, then the tree in sunlight, then the cast
shadow, and finally the big oak tree here in shadow. So six values its I've taken
the scene, I've analyzed it,
I've simplified it, now when I move on to the full color painting where there's all
kinds of color variety and detail and lots of things going on,
I'll have this in my mind and I hopefully will make a solid painting based on
value plan. One mistake I often see in students is confusing
the small areas, putting too much contrast within any given small area and not
looking at the painting as a whole.
So I'll just do a few examples of that.
Let's just look at the same scene again.
Just simply sketch out the same scene that we have over here.
Okay, so I've already simplified this scene down
to six basic values. But it's actually harder than it looks outside to do that.
When you're outside, there are so many things going on.
There are leaves shaking, catching the light, there's colors,
there's all kinds of colors.
There's accents here and there, the highlights and dark accents and spots of
color and it's very easy to be confused by all those things.
And one of the hardest skills to learn is to see the overall picture,
especially in terms of values.
So a lot of students will go outside
and they might start with the sky for example.
And this is a common mistake to start with one area without considering the rest of
the painting. So they might start with the sky.
They see a big cloud up here and they say oh,
wow that looks - there’s a shadow under that cloud,
the top of that cloud is very white.
So I'll put that in.
And there's a blue sky behind it.
It's pretty dark. It's a blue.
And they start painting the blue sky
and the get down here and they say are actually it's lighter down there.
And so they make this enormous
gradation and they say okay
maybe that's not black,
the underside of that cloud but it's pretty dark.
And so they make it pretty dark.
And pretty soon they’ve used almost the whole range of values in just the one, what
should be one mass. Like the sky mass in this picture.
So that's a common mistake.
The hardest thing about painting - or one of the hardest things about painting is to be
able to take the whole scene in at once.
So when you're trying to determine the value of the sky, you need to be looking
at the sky, but you also need to be looking
at the shadow of the tree, the field need to be looking at this tree,
you need to be looking at everything at once.
If you don't look at everything at once you will have contrast everywhere and your picture
will be mixed up. There will be no
pleasing effect, there will be no sunlight effect.
So this simplification, even though it looks like almost over-simplification,
with a few touches of color on this and a few accents, a painting like this
will come to life and it will have that solid value on your structure.
So just something to keep in mind when you're deciding on your values,
make sure you're taking the whole scene in and looking at all of the bigger parts
together and not focusing in on any given smaller part.
Now, let's look at some some examples in historical painting
and talk a little bit about keying and value structure.
Let's take a look at a few paintings and see how the values are organized in
these paintings. The first painting that we're going to look at is this painting by Isaac
Levitan. We've already talked about masses and how to identify masses and how an artist
might have thought about masses.
Let's just break this picture down into value masses and sort of come up with a
value plan for this. So the first thing we need to do is break it into
masses. So we've got a couple big shapes.
We've got a cloud mass.
We've got a a river or lake
mass. We got the the distant land is a mess.
I've got a dark mass here.
We've got a lighter, slightly lighter, foregrounnd mass.
So there's - there might be five or six or seven big masses in this picture.
Now what I want to do is just kind of rank them in order
from lightest to darkest. So let's just take a look and this is something that when
you're painting outside or when you're painting anything actually, inside outside doesn't matter,
you should have a plan of value plan and you should be able to rank all
of your masses in order from lightest to darkest.
So let's just go through and see what this would look like.
So our lightest thing, our first mass, our lightest thing up here is the sky.
Now just a little bit darker than that
is this area down here, this river.
The cloud mass here would be the third lightest thing.
Then I would say the background, the land back here, would be number four.
Then maybe the grass here in the foreground will be number five.
And it’s pretty close in value to the roof.
And then coming in last is this darker mass
that's It's the trees and the side of the church.
So we’ve got these things ranked now in order from lightest to darkest. Let's just take
a look at what this painting looks like
in black and white. Okay now
we can see the painting reduced to just a grayscale
image so we’ve kind of just eliminated all the color and we're just looking at the
values. So when you are looking to make your value plan for your picture,
this is how you need to see the world
in these shades of grey. So before you start thinking about color,
you need to see the world like this.
And if you start to see everything in terms of shades of grey, then you
can start to identify values.
And you can start to compare different areas and see what's lighter and darker.
And after a while you can start to develop.
a sentence for values. So I'm just began going through those six main value masses.
So here's our value plan again for this painting.
Let’s take a look at just a few more paintings.
Okay, this is a good one.
I'll take a look at this painting again.
We have lots of color in this painting and color
tends to confuse people when they're looking at values.
So a lot of people they see a bright color
and they think it might must be a really light value.
So this would be a difficult scene
for somebody new to the concept of values to really determine
what's the lightest thing, second lightest, third lightest, fourth lightest, because when people see bright colors
like oranges and reds they often think that they're very light in value.
So let's just look at this painting and see what the latest thing is and then
starting ranking in order the value masses.
So I’m gonna say that the the trunks of the trees, these things,
these are the lightest so they're all number one.
They might be relatively close to the value of the sky so that we could also
say is a number one value.
Or the first in our value hierarchy.
Now we have to start determining what is darker, what is lighter, we
look at an area like
these yellow trees and then we look at an area like this ground plane
and it’s pretty difficult sometimes to determine
what's lighter and what's darker.
So what you can do outside is you can just sometimes
compare them by isolating.
What I do outside is I isolate a little patch of a little - a little mass and
then I'll switch that to a different one and I'll compare back and forth.
So if you isolate something, put it - bring it out of its context a little bit.
Sometimes it's easier to see.
So I'm doing that and I realize that the grass,
this big mass, is lighter.
This is lighter than this.
I guess I will say that this is number to know.
Maybe that's number two as well.
Just in grass. I'm going to say that this is number three.
I'll say that this is also number three.
Okay, now we're getting into that thing again where sometimes it's hard to determine.
What's lighter? What's darker?
I'm going to call this number four, maybe this is also a four value.
Actually, maybe that's more of a - yeah I’ll say that’s a number four.
Maybe this is number five.
This is number five here.
And maybe this is number 6.
So and our little accents here,
the dark accents can all be number 6 value.
So let's let's just to reduce this image to black-and-white and maybe see if it becomes
a little bit more clear.
Okay. Well when we reduce everything to black and white we see really how close
this mass is to this mass.
And I think now that I could probably call those the same same mass, the same
value category. So I think I was wrong.
I think that really these two things are so similar.
That are the same value category.
The orange trees and the green grass.
Okay, let's take a look at another image.
Let’s take a look at this image
and talk a little bit about keying the painting.
So this what might be called a very high keyed painting.
High keyed paintings often look very sunny. They look very bright and sunny.
I just want to point out a little bit about this painting and then try to
reproduce it with paint on the canvas
and explain a little bit how it works this high key.
So let's just look at what are the darkest
areas in this picture and looking at this shape right now here it’s
And I'm imagining that value scale from black to white.
And I'm trying to imagine
where does this - where does the darkest thing in this picture fall in between black and
whit. Is it halfway, is it a little bit more towards black,
where is it on the value scale?
I'm noticing also there might be something - little specks in the foreground that actually might be
individually these little specks might be darker or the roughly the same value as the things
in this shadow mass. But since they're so small, these little specks in the foreground,
they don't break up this mass, this foreground mass,
but they're just part of it, they’re an element or a detail within that mass.
Okay, let's go to the easel and just try to break down this painting a
little bit in terms of value and talk about keying a high keyed painting.
And I might do two versions of it just to compare and contrast.
So I'll draw it out twice, here we got the cliffs coming down.
There’s the little house that gives a scale to this whole painting and it's an area
of interest. It's an intricate shape.
And I see the shadow of the cliff on the water here
a bit. There’s the little house. Okay.
So let's look first at how this painting is keyed.
And then let's look at how it could also be keyed in a different way.
So this painting is an example of a very high kid painting and what
that means is we look at the value scale,
just make a little value scale here
from black to white. So pure white to pure black
and a gradation in between, so
we have an infinite number of variations of grey, shades of grey. Okay,
There’s the value scale.
So we could use any
of those infinite shades of grey. So we've got this picture.
Let's just first Identify some of the masses and maybe the value hierarchy
of this picture. So the lightest thing in the picture, I got a lot of light
things. But it's probably, I'm going to say
that it’s probably the part of the cliff here
and part of the house. Actually,
there's so many similar values all over this painting.
So we can say the bits of the cliff are the lightest thing in the
painting, followed by the sky and then all of the top planes, all the
grasses and top planes would maybe be a third value category.
And then the sea is actually a little bit darker than the top planes, all
the grasses, and then followed by the shadows of the cliffs and - I’m sorry the shadows
of the water, shadows on the water and then the shadows of the cliffs are darkest
things. So it can be broken down roughly into about five or six value masses.
So when you're painting you want to make that plan in your mind,
you want to know, you want to divide the painting up into value masses
and rank them like I just did.
After you do that you need to decide how to key the painting.
So you know what the lightest thing in your picture is but you don't - you haven't
yet decided what the value that light thing will be. It could be pure white.
It could be this value.
It could be any any number of these values you could start your picture at.
You could also - the darkest senior picture could be pure black,
but you probably don't want to be pure black.
Especially painting outside. Painting outside
there's so much ambient light and light being reflected around that paintings tend to be painting,
outdoor paintings had to be lighter
than indoor paintings for that reason.
Now this particular picture, the key of it is - it's a high key,
That means the whole picture is painted
prbably somewhere up in this range of values.
So the lower
value range is not even used.
It might stop here let’s say.
So there's a lot of values
that the artist didn't use in this picture.
Probably a whole third of the range wasn't used or used very very sparingly.
So that's the thing to think about when keying a painting is how much of
the value scale do you want to use?
And where do your value masses fall on the scale. And they can be spread apart,
they can be compressed together.
So you might you might find that
your number one is here,
your number two is here, number three might be here,
your four here, and your five could be here for a example.
They're all - some of them are grouped together, closer together, some other spread more apart.
Let's look at how this high key painting is done.
Next to it we’ll do the same painting
with a slightly darker key.
So let's try to use
this upper range for the high key and we’ll use a bigger portion of the value scale
for this painting. Okay I want to mix up something for the sky which is the
number two in our value hierarchy and it's pretty light,
but it's not up to white.
It's a bit later than that, something like that.
Okay there's our sky mask.
I said the some bits of the cliffs and house were lighter than the sky.
Now we said that
just after the sky the ground plane is probably the next value category and it's so
similar. It's so similar to the sky.
They're almost the same, but we'll just - since we're using a compressed portion of the value
scale, I will make this just a tiny tiny bit darker
than the sky. Tiny tiny bit. So you can see so far that
it's pretty light so far.
So this should be a tiny bit darker than the sky.
And there might be something, another sort of value mass there
that's even a slightly darker.
So let's go ahead and make that slightly darker,
this little piece right here.
Okay. And after that we said the next darkest thing was the sea. Let's
go ahead and make that a little bit, little tiny tiny bit darker.
Let's just see where we are on the value scale roughly.
So we’re still up in this range somewhere.
That value might also exist a little bit in the cliffs.
and may be as well in the background.
Maybe just here. Okay, so we've got one, two, three, four value masses. Now let's look at
the shadows, the cast shadows that are on the water.
And they are just a little bit darker than the water that's in sunlight.
So just a tiny bit. That might even be too much.
And that might be the same value as some of the shadows on the back cliff.
And so we're still kind of in the mid-range, mid-to-upper range of the value scale.
Our next one is a shadow of the cliff and that might be a value somewhere
there, it might be -
Mmybe it's right there. So we've used
probably two-thirds of the value scale for this whole picture.
Maybe half or two-thirds of the value scale.
I'll paint in the lightest thing here which is not white and it's a little bit -
ot's a little bit darker than the white or latest thing.
So very close values, all in the upper range of the value scale.
We have nothing even close to black in this painting.
And one thing to note on a high key painting, you often see value variation
in the foreground and you often see these little specks.
So in this case, they're the same value as this shadow back here.
But now they're in the foreground, they’re little specks of -
I guess little specks of shadow in the grass and and bushes here, flowers.
And having those in a very high keyed painting tend to pull this mass a
little bit forward so it distinguishes it from the other masses that are so close in
value. So just a variation in that foreground mass. So that’s
the that's the plan of a value plan of a very high keyed painting.
So I haven't used anything even close to black.
This is the darkest thing I've used is this, let's just put
black next to that, see how it looks.
So that's my possible range all the way to black but in this picture
a decision was made to only go down to this value.
Let's compare that now to an an alternate keying of the same
picture. So this painting could have been keyed in a different way, the same value
hierarchy, but just using more of the scale and see what that would look like.
See what it would look like if we started darker.
So let's start that shadow darker.
So all these value masses are going to go in the same order.
They’re just an expanded range of values.
So the shadows are going to be darker.
The cast shadow on the water will be a little bit later than those,
but it'll be darker than this painting.
And we might see some of those, that same value, represented back here in the
shadow of some of these cliffs. We can start the top - the first values at almost
white again. So let's put that down.
But now when we jump to the sky we could go a little bit further, we
could make it a little bit more of a difference between the lightest thing
and the second lightest thing. Let's just make more of a difference there
than our first example. So slightly darker sky this time.
And let’s mass in all the grass and top plans and make them slightly
darker than the sky. Let’s mass
In the sea as well.
Okay, so we have now two paintings,
two different keyings, two different ways to key, and the values are in the same order, same
value masses, same order like lightest to darkest,
but we just have two different results.
So in this example we’ve used more of the range, we’ve used the expanded value range.
In this example it's a very high keyed panting and we're using a limited value range
and it's towards the upper end of the value scale.
So that's just an example of how you could key a painting and that's up to you.
That's up to how you want to interpret all that information outside.
So they're both - they're both valid ways to key a painting.
They both follow the same value hierarchy.
They both have the same -
the darkest mass in this picture is the same as the darkest mess in this picture,
just with a different keying.
So that's an example of how you might think about key in a painting.
like and your assignment is to take all the information that nature has given you and
put them into different value categories.
I suggest no more than seven and if you can do it in five,
it's even better. So what you'll need is a small panel, you'll need black and white
paint, and five to seven brushes, one for each value that you choose.
Free to try
1. Overview of Value2m 53sNow playing...
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2. How to Compose a Value Plan10m 24s
3. Hierarchy of Values20m 48s
4. Common Mistakes to Avoid5m 54s
5. Analysis of Value of Master Paintings13m 5s
6. How to Paint High Key vs Low Key22m 57s
7. Assignment Instructions38s