- Lesson Details
In this lesson, master designer Bill Perkins will show you how to use value to strengthen the compositional designs and readability of your landscape drawings. You will learn how to use value matrix, a powerful tool that allows you to quickly simplify the values within any image.
This lesson belongs to the course Beginner’s Guide to Drawing. It is a 12-week course designed to empower new students with a structured approach for learning how to draw. Join instructors Steve Huston, Chris Legaspi, Heather Lenefsky, Bill Perkins, and Mark Westermoe as you learn the fundamentals of perspective, rendering, and composition. After completing this course, you will develop a solid foundation in drawing.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
a, an image, everything is going to have a local color, and it's going
to be effected by light and shadow.
I've selected a couple little landscape images that I work with,
and first I want to introduce you just to the principle of value grouping.
Value grouping really has to do with I'll just start off here with a
a value scale from one to 10.
Or zero to 10 down here like this and 10 might be considered our darkest dark.
Let me just kind of start there.
And if our mid value is somewhere in this range,
I'm going to make a, a gradation that's going to go all the way
down to our darkest dark here.
I'm trying to make it even I'll smooth it out.
so this is our blackest black down here.
Now I used my finger to get in here and even bring this just a little bit lighter
up to my lightest light up there if I can.
This is like a consistent gradient, that's what I want to do is I want
to create a consistent gradient.
It gets darker and darker and darker down here and lighter up there.
See it kind of changes abruptly up here.
So I'm going to lighten this up a little bit.
Again I got a little bit of a bump right here, so I want to make sure
that that's, that's cleared out and I get an even gradient up here.
Kind of push this up a little bit
and then I'll draw a little bit more in there.
There we go.
So this is my gradient from white to black.
Well let's just say we've got, this
this gradient from one or zero to 10.
Now in any image, you don't need to use this whole range of white to solid
black and all of the in-betweens.
And, you know, we might think, Oh, well we need a a real broad
range of value to depict something.
It really comes down to managing your groupings of values rather
than using the whole range.
So you determine whether your image is - what its major key and its minor key is,
and then you can break it down from there.
For instance, in any kind of an image and I'm going to use, I'm going
to start with one image here and I'll do this little seascape here.
Start with something like this.
And what I'm going to do is first I'm going to do my basic design.
And then I see that there's some rocks out in this area.
Those rocks going to look like that.
And I have a couple other rocks in here like this, and they're
a little broken up in here.
So there's the sky area and then the water in that area.
I also have an area down in here, which is the sand, and I have this larger rock
that comes down something like this.
And then like this.
We have some of the form breaking into this so we can,
we can draw how this works here.
Top plane, the side plane, like that side plane around here.
This kind of comes around and then breaks down in here.
We have in the, in this area here, we have some other dark rocks, the top of
the surface and the side of the surface.
And then we have a couple other rocks like this.
I have another one coming in here.
And then what I want to do is I want to also acknowledge that I've got this foam
that's swirling around in this area.
I'm just going to make kind of an abstract of, of the shape.
And I also see that it is coming in an area like this.
And it's rolling over some rock that's underwater, but it's,
it's kind of slipping over that.
So we see that, that turn that way.
And then coming around this side, we see the widest area
of the, of the foam like this.
And again, kind of going into this, these kinds of little abstract shapes here.
Back around this rock back here
we also see some areas that are getting a little bit lighter of
the water, the foam that's breaking around the edges of these rocks.
So there's my basic design.
Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to identify where's my lightest area.
Where's my darkest area.
And I might just number those.
So my lightest area might be in here in the foam.
That might be my lightest areas.
Those areas of the foam.
The next - the next value group might be the sky.
Now, if I squint at this image, the foam and the sky in this overcast
day are very close in value.
So I'm going to group those as one group.
I'm going to say, okay that exists in one group value range.
So the foam, which is in here and the sky are going to be in one value group.
There's a clear jump along the horizon here that I noticed
that goes into my next value.
And that I'm going to say is the water - I'll number this as
one and this is two and water.
Now I see this has a pretty, pretty broad range.
And it goes from the lighter area over in here, down to the area in here.
So this is a pretty broad range of contrast.
And then I'm going to look at my rocks.
That's the next thing that I, that I'm looking at and the rocks in here,
there's the top surfaces of these rocks.
And then the sides as they get darker.
And as they're wet down here, that might be the third.
So three would be rocks.
And what I'll notice is the rocks have a value range as well.
So there's the tops and sides.
And the distance, the distance ones too.
We don't see as much top on the distance ones, but we do see that they
do sit within this darkest region.
And this is the third group in here.
So this image can get broken down into three basic value groups
and I'll show you how that works.
We've associated close values.
Now, if we look at, at our, at the sky and the foam, we're going
to realize that those are only existing within about this range.
So that is sky and foam.
Now our next group, the water, that's a pretty broad range.
Remember we're going from areas that are fairly light over here and in
here all the way down into here.
So that's going to be somewhere in here
to that darker zone in here.
And our rocks, you're going to see that the tops of the rocks and the, the dark
part of the rocks in these dark rocks back here are really down low in the low range.
The tops that we see a little bit lighter.
They almost get the same value as the water, the darkest water in here.
So they get really close in here.
So I'm going to go kind of close in here and they go to black.
I mean, this is a pretty broad range as well.
So this might be rocks.
Now here's the key to making a clear image.
And that is that if we know the range of this and the range of this and the
range of that, we need to keep a clear gap between our light group or a light
range of values, our mid range of values, and a darker range of values.
And you can do that by just eliminating that value, those values.
So you don't have to have all of your values in any image.
It's not a case of, you know, making it more realistic is going to be dependent on
on having a full range of values is having an accurate selection of value ranges.
That's the key to making this work.
So, if I'm saying the sky and foam are within this range,
I'm going to look at my image,
I'm going to say, okay, my light or my sky is very light.
It's somewhere in the foam that's going to have a little bit more articulation.
So the sky is going to be even, so I'm going to do this quite flat.
I use a little tissue to flatten this value out.
See if I can lift a little of it,
it's going to be very, very light.
I'll lighten it up just a little bit.
Gonna clean it, my shape, my border here too.
Just a little.
I'll lighten that up just a little bit.
Here we go,
here we are.
And you can see that I'm trying not to go any darker than this right in here.
So that's that value range.
And in the foam in here, it's going to be the same thing.
And so I'm going to look for my, a little bit of variation
in here, right, within the foam.
And I'm going to see a little bit in here.
It's not the whitest whites in some of these, and these are not going
to be the lightest lights as well.
These are going to be about the same as the sky at this point.
So I'm going to bring that down a little bit.
There we go.
Now my water is going to be a little step down.
Then the sky, but as it reflects up in here, this is the area that's
reflecting closest to the sky.
So I'm going to keep this fairly light,
but as I get into here, it's going to get a little bit darker.
And I purposely selected something that's just kind of as simple, a simple
image that has a simple value breakdown.
Cause I'm going to get my basic values in here.
And I'm going to go towards my darker region in here of the water.
Now, soften this up just a little bit too.
And this area here is dark, a little darker as well.
I'm going to pull the whites back out of that because I want to get this,
this arrangement, you see it here, the water is rolling over and we'll
get a little bit of a gradient here.
It goes a little darker, like the darkness down here, up in there.
And then I'll put this, get this a little darker here.
I can even get it just a little bit darker here in these little
areas in here and little areas close to the rock here where it's
picking up the reflection of that dark, dark rock in there.
Get the reflection of the dark rock in there, a little in there as well.
So I've got a range now and before I go too far, I'm going to pull
some of these lights back out.
I don't want to get too lost in some of these.
Some of the areas where there's a little bit of the foam, I'm going
to pick some of that back out.
Some of the shapes in here.
Okay, I'm going to get my, some of my lightest lights coming out of there.
And you can see I'm building that range
to stay with.
Now within each of these groups, within each of these value ranges, we
have them in these different zones.
We have the, the white, the light is foam and the sky, and we're
going to see in that range, we don't have a great deal of contrast.
It's all pretty light.
So within that, alright you see, let me put it this way.
Our ranges of contrast is we've got a full, minor key.
We have everything from white, all the way to black.
That's our minor key.
So we have a broad, high contrast of minor key.
Now, within each zone, you have a contrast range.
So in every area that I designate, I can actually monitor the range
of contrast within each area.
So it's breaking it down from the big picture down to those three areas.
And then what's the contrast range within each area and how does that get broken up?
In this case, in this image, there's not a lot of contrast in the foam.
It's all pretty light.
So there's not a lot of contrast there.
The area of greatest contrast is going to be
in the darks it's in this area because you're going to see that if I
block this in now, it's fairly dark,
And there's a little bit of breakup in the top surfaces of this rock.
And as we - we see in here, there's more the top surfaces and I'm breaking the top
surfaces up with a little broken value.
You can see it's a little lighter, a little darker in some of these regions.
And that's the nature of the character of the nature of this zone.
It's a little bit broken up and lighter on the top.
We can see the breakup in here.
Same thing down here.
This gets broken up in here like this and like this.
And then as we go down, we get to the darker region that
goes down to the black here.
We're going to lay that in.
And these areas that are more wet or more perpendicular to the sky because
that's where these - that's what's going on here is these are getting broken up.
Now you can see, as they start getting into this, you can start to see the
breakup a little bit more clearly what's going on with some of the forms.
And I'm just observing and working with in these darks in this range.
Remember, this is, this is all this one range here.
So I'm just trying to stay within that range of values.
And it's easier to do this.
I mean, when, when you identify these values and value groups like this,
it's so much simpler because it's, it's a way of seeing the world simply.
That's really what you want to do is you want to understand
what's going on and see it simply.
And if you understand things the way that things look in a simple manner,
it makes them easier to draw as well.
You end up drawing the spirit of the image and emphasizing the,
the distinguishing elements there.
It's almost like doing a caricature of the real world around you as you're breaking
these things down into these groups, you can see that starts to take shape.
I'm going to simplify this down.
Try to get these darks in here just a little bit darker
and I'll get in - I'll get the darks in back here.
And this overall stays fairly dark.
We don't see a lot of breakup in this area back here.
It stays pretty silhouetted.
Now in here, again, we'll break up.
Here's the overall, and then we'll get to the darker, the full range
of that element in that area.
I'm going to pull, just pull out just a little bit of the rock in here.
Again, I don't want to go too light.
See that's as light as the, as the, the water is out there.
I just want to be able to get the distinguishing shape in there.
I'm going to bring that back down into its proper value.
Water is going to reflect the rock in it just a little bit.
And we have some of these little dark elements coming out from the - as
they reflect the rock up above.
more of the same down in here.
There's a little bit of darkening in the, in the water as well
as it turns away from it.
The light in there.
But I wanna make sure that the water here, here and here doesn't
get quite as dark as that.
Same thing over here.
It's going to go a little darker there, but not as dark as the rocks in there.
This area in here can get a little bit darker, just like I darkened
this area over here because it's in the water and we're still want
to make sure that it doesn't get as dark as that - as dark as the rock.
Now, what I'll do is I'll go back and kind of pick out some of my, my
lightest lights of the foam again.
In this area.
It's kind of wax on and wax off with a, with a charcoal pencil like this,
you know, you can go over areas and don't, don't feel like you've ruined it.
If you've drawn over something, you can always kind of pick it up
and draw back into it a little bit.
And what I'm doing here is if I'm spending a lot more time, I'm going to
be very accurate about my, my shapes in here, but for this little exercise
of value grouping, I'm just going to get it in the ballpark because
discriminating about all these little shapes is something that you definitely
want to do, and you can see how you can
- you can get at it this way, but this is the right setup.
This is the way to get you into the, into the area where you can actually get
these values set so that you can actually do something that has a point of view.
So here's a little breakup in this area now too and these,
this is the darker foam.
And a little bit like this.
And then the bits of the sky reflecting into the water are
going to reflect in this area.
And a little bit over in here, like this.
I'm going to do a couple of these as examples so that you just kind of get
a, you know, not just one example, but we can see a couple of them as we
know the different as we move forward, the different - in the distance we see
some of the reflection of the, of the sky, just a little heavier in certain
areas because the current's moving over and stuff, but by bracketing
your values and eliminating these,
the values in between, what that does it gives your image clarity.
You get clear distinctions between different areas.
And in here I could go in and just subtly create these areas in here and play with
these shapes just a little bit to show that we're, we're seeing a little bit
down into the water a little bit in here.
And we're going to see that there's a foam and how it rolls over a little bit there.
We're going to see it rolling over here just a little bit, and we
can just accentuate some of those, the pooling by darkening these.
That comes down just a little bit.
This is rock so it's going to be in this value range.
And then there's a little bit of
this darker range.
And remember in the water here, we can go down to this dark so I can use this.
I got to make sure that I don't go too dark, otherwise it's
going to start to look like this.
And keeping the difference I'll darken this up just a little bit more,
and that gives me a broader range
to work with on my, on my rocks or, and it also gives me a broader
range to work with my water.
So if I make this all darker, I can make this darker too.
And what will happen is it'll allow me more more use of, of being
able to move, make these just a little bit darker in here too.
If I want to get articulate little shapes in here,
I think it started doing that now, too.
But by doing this, then I know what values those need to be.
And I know that I can't go darker than a certain range and I can't
go lighter than a certain range.
And knowing that, that keeps a balance on all your values in your overall image.
That's what I mean by value grouping.
Let me show you another example of this.
Now I'm going to do a demonstration again, of value grouping.
And I'm going to look at the range of values that we have in this image.
And then I'm going to assess the major and minor key and break it down from there.
So again, I'm going to start with a value range where I have
my darkest darks down here.
I'm doing this as kind of a just a rough demonstration.
So I think if you really want to do a real, complete, subtle value
range, you can definitely do it.
I'm doing it as kind of a demonstration for you, kind of a shorthand version,
but still want to get it pretty clear.
That's - that's our basic range.
And then what I'm going to do.
So I'll do my drawing over here.
Kind of - kind of break this, drawing down.
Now, this drawing I'm going to see there's a large foreground area.
It almost goes a half way up into the image and then there's a large hedge.
It comes over like this, and there's a top that appears on that.
So it's a lighter value and we can see that clearly.
And then there's another push that comes over here.
We can see the light and shadow shapes in these bushes.
But the contrast is very similar.
So the they group pretty similar.
There's a fence.
There's another tree that comes up in here.
I kind of do a center of the tree, just so I get it to kind of grow appropriately.
And then I get a palm.
And another one over in here.
I can see it.
Cause they're overlapping like this building here with a roof
there's section of the roof.
Another large tree over here.
So I'm getting my basic shapes.
And as I do, I'm kind of determining
my arrangement and looking, I'm looking really looking at the
differences of shapes in here too.
And so I'm defining my zones, marking out these, these different zones.
These are the bushes in here, and then we have this kind of a
bush here that has this kind of topiary kind of quality to it.
It actually comes in here a little bit like this.
And then this tree out here.
So these are my basic zones.
I got a little area in here of dirt.
That helps gives us this movement in here.
And I'm going to see that the values in here are similar.
So now we'll look at, at bracketing our values.
When I designate my area into these zones, I'm going to look at and
say, okay, where's my darkest dark.
And, and what's my value range in there.
And I can see that my, some of my darkest darks are in this Cypress tree here.
This little topiary and the dark of the trees that come down here
in my bush, this long hedge.
And then this tree back up in here and little areas of the palm, those are going
to be the areas of the darkest darks.
Now I got some real darks down in here as well.
And then my, my range, I have a lighter range is going to be like the
fence and the tops of these bushes in here and the palm and then the next
lightest is going to be the foreground in here and then the ground, and then
the, the wall here and then the sky.
So it kind of numbering those things through the darkest ones are going to be,
let's go from the lightest to the darkest.
This is the lightest.
That'd be a one.
And then the next would be two.
These are all two in here.
The next would be three.
And there's a good amount of contrast within here within this region.
So there's, it was a good amount of contrast here.
There's also a good amount in the, in the trees and stuff.
So, but initially we'll call this number three and then
we're going to go step darker.
This is four and then five in here and six in there.
Now, if we look closely, you were going to see that this five area in
here runs real similar to this four.
So maybe we can put the four and the five and group those together.
Make this a five and a four.
So our sky, the range in there is pretty narrow.
We just get a little bit, and this is a long gradient in here,
but we're only going to get a little bit of that value in there.
We have a gap because we can see that the buildings here are a good
step darker, but it's a narrow range.
So it's a good step darker, but it's a very narrow range.
So that this is going to be our one.
These are buildings.
And then our three areas is going to be the grass.
And that's a good step down.
That's going to be in here.
And then the fence is close, close, but it's a narrow range
in here and that's four.
So that's a fence and bush tops.
We can even expand this a little bit if we want and have room down here.
And then we have a little bit of a gap again, and we go into five
and five is going to be the trees.
Now anything that you do any subject matter that you choose, you can do this
with any subject matter you choose.
And again, I'm like I mentioned before, the key to doing this is
just making sure that you have a gap.
You know, a clear, distinctive difference between one zone and the next value zone.
And you can see how this looks now, too.
So we're eliminating this.
We're eliminating this, eliminating this, eliminating this.
Now again, when we eliminate these values, we are grouping these other values and
it will make sure that these different areas don't get all muddied together.
That's the managing your values is, is it can be really complex if you
don't have a plan, usually things will break down into these value ranges.
And you just determine where those value ranges sit.
And so for any, any major or minor key, you're going to be able to establish it
within these, this manner of doing it.
So it's really pretty easy, whether you have something complex or
something simple, I'll just do, I'll do a simple little ball, but I'll
make sure that it's, let's do this.
Let's do a pool ball.
And let's just say the light source is coming from over here.
Well, if it has a strong light source, one thing that's going to
happen is you're going to get a highlight that's right in here.
So we want to register that first.
And if this is a dark color and we have, let's see, we have a number here.
Okay, I'll just, I'm going to put a zero on here.
So this is the local color on here, and this is the local color
affected by light being lit up.
If our light source is coming this way.
Going back this way like this, and it's hitting the, the, our ball right here.
Our half tone is going to be where the surface turns around.
There was parallel to this light source.
And that might land somewhere in here right now in this region is where you're
going to see the real local value.
The lighter part of the ball and the darker part of the ball.
This is kind of where your local value region is going to be, because
everything into the light is going to be this value, plus a little bit light.
And this value plus light.
Now when it goes into the shadow, it's going to be this value minus that light.
So it's going to get darker as it goes into the shadow.
Just like this.
Again, that's the light going into shadow.
They're getting a little darker.
So if one object has two different values on it, you're going to see the difference.
They're both going to go into shadow.
Similarly, let's just say that here's our ground plane.
And our ground plane has a local color.
And outside the light source is going to fall off just a little bit.
We give it a little bit of a gradient over here, far away from the light source
is going to get a little darker here.
So we get a little variation on that.
And then it's cast shadow from the ball is going to be a darker value.
I'm just using my fingers to get all this in here.
So I have the light part of the ball, a medium value on the ground and a dark,
local color wrapping around this ball.
Okay, let me get back to the light of the ball here.
Here we go.
And this being in light as well, might pull a little bit off of this, there we
go, and the highlight is going to be since it's a pretty shiny object a highlight
might get pulled right out of here.
and this being the middle value being hit by light here, it's going
to reflect up into this and it's going to, illuminate just a little
bit, this, the darkness of this.
So it'll bring up the value just slightly.
We'll read it as something like this.
And as this reflects up into here, you're going to get all over your
reflected light in there too.
I don't want to get too ahead of myself here.
So I'm going to, I just want to show you just an example
of how values can be grouped.
And this is a case where an object has multiple values in its local situation.
Okay, so this can set up a scheme.
So you've - you get this range of the ball in light.
So that's one.
We get this half tone in here.
This starts to get two, along with this down in here, that
range starts to group together.
You see, it could even get lost similar in value.
Then it's going to go to three is down in these regions.
Three and you're reflected and then four down to your darkest
darks down in here and up in here.
Now all of these have names and we'll get into that later, but
the, the main thing is it's all breaking down into value groups,
just like we're breaking this apart.
It allows for clarity within your image.
I'm going to set this up and and I'm going to work with the
lightest range, which is the sky at this point and you see I'm
just getting a little bit of this tone in here.
And the clouds in here are real soft.
Barely see the contrast in there. They're very very very
Okay, and that's the total range, you know of that area.
then our next group is the buildings.
And they need to be a good step down from anything up there. So
we're going to step that down into here
and in here
and in here.
Okay. So these are the bits of the building that are in light
or they're painted light.
then we go to the next value which is going to be the grass.
We want to go a little darker yet.
Kinda smooth that down because the texture of the paper is a
little overpowering there.
Some of this is pretty uneven. So let me
get this even this out a little bit.
Just evening that value out just a little bit and you can
see there's a clear distinction between the sky and this second
group or value group and then the lay in on this group. And my
next thing is the fence and now it's just slightly darker. So
there's the fence and the bush tops is very close in value, but it
is a little bit darker.
Can go just a little bit darker with that.
See what I can do if I -
there we go.
I'm going to pull this out just a little bit so it still keeps
this gap and that's what I want to make sure is I have a gap
between my value groups.
Even though it's subtle I want a gap in there because
that's going to make sure that my image remains clear.
I'm going to have subtle nuances all over this thing,
but I'm going to make sure that my value groups are managed
And I keep them within this range,
Again, this range is darker than that range.
And I'm going to - I'm going to see that the tops of these
bushes are in that same value range.
And it seems to be pretty similar to the value range
on these roofs.
So I'm going to combine the that.
Even the little top piece up on the top up there.
This gets a little dark.
It's a little too dark. I'm going to clean this up a little
There we go.
So I'm subtly putting that in there.
Wanna make sure this is going to clean edge in there and I'm
subtly putting this in here, too
as the range.
Then I have these
bushes in light here
I'm going to see some of this is the same value as my fence
and bush tops over here.
Same thing in here.
Same thing at the top over here. These are all grouped
together. So this is a mass of similar value.
Okay, and as these tops in here, this level four in here, I
can see that the rooftop here is kind of a my level four as
That's a little dark.
There we go.
The stairs in the back here
are similar in value.
So I'm going to drop those in.
I also have some of the palms
that fit this value grouping as well. So I'll go ahead and put
some of those shapes in.
And over like this.
Now some of these fronds go a little darker
where they overlap and stuff they'll go a little bit darker.
So I'm going to save some of that for my
And you can see I'm in this range right in here.
I'm getting a little bit
Side of that - I guess it's like this. This is a side of that building
And the top of the chimney there.
Because there's a little area that's this value right in
Along with this palm tree.
Now I'm going to put in the darkest dark
that's our number five
in our bushes here.
We're going to see a little bit of break up in here. This is
But I know that in this zone between the area of the bush in
light and the area in shadow, there is a there's there's there is a
value difference but it's broken up with all the little
leaves that are refracting light and those that are
turning down that earn't picking up the the light from
the sky, you get a little difference there. And then on
the back of over here, we can see that it gets a
little bit darker behind here.
So that it hangs onto this lighter area here. There's also
a little bit of a
a gap in there and then our other little piece chimney back
There we go.
And can make that read a little better that way you can also
see that there's
This darkest dark this five falls in a shadow there and
then it falls into
number four there.
There's a window that goes into five right in there.
On the edge even if we want to pick up
some of this we're looking at the five
right and now we're going to go back and get the rest of
our number five, this is our our back bush in the back back
We're tree closer Bush. It's a tree.
there once you get your value ranges in here,
and I'm putting these -
I'm putting these shapes in with
kind of in the direction of the plants where the
way the plants are growing and stuff so I can kind of get a
little difference not just with the value between zones, but
also with the application of the marks that I'm putting
down. I'm also getting a little bit of variation there.
as this bush goes into shadow you can see it's different.
This has -
the growth pattern goes this way. So I'm going to make
strokes that way with this one I'm going to make strokes this
way to follow the growth pattern here, which is a little
different. So the marks are actually going to help indicate
a little bit more information. What I'm doing is I'm just
breaking this that edge from one value group to another but
I'm breaking it up with
The type of breakup and difference between the breakup
of this tree and this tree. So if you look - really look at the
nature of of the shape or texture, if you stay true to
that, you'll start building in
what feels like the appearance of actual bush and and it will
appear like there's more
rendering than you actually put into your image.
Because you're just being true with your values and your value
All right. So there here's here's some of the darker areas
that are in shadow in this palm tree.
There we go.
Okay coming over here.
Here we go.
And then this section in shadow as well coming in here.
Here's the other trunk in here.
And then this trunk.
So it may seem like, you know, when you look at a
finished piece that may seem like it's a - there's a big
mystery to getting all the rendering of all this stuff and
there's really not if you're just paying attention to you're just paying attention to
grouping your values in a way that
gives each area a little clearer distinction of little clearer distinction of
range of value. This is my - again this is my four and my
five value comes in here like this.
Here we go.
I had this a little wide, so let me just kind of crop this
down in here.
but I know that my values in here I can go as dark as my
four so I'm getting a little number four range in here and
here along the edge here.
You know just breaking this up a little bit, as a little bit of
a shadow, subtle shadow, in there. It's broken along the
And goes from the five to the three
And then our fence.
I want to smudge my drawing here.
So there's a contrast within this
As is there's some contrast within this zone but as long as
I keep my groups similar,
you know or within one region, if I start to make these things
too dark, they're going to associate with this and they're
going to be punching holes in in this image. I'll
do that and then I'll pull it back. You see once I do that
see how it kind of breaks the situation. It turns these dark
areas, puts them on the same depth plane as this back there.
So you have to avoid
using the same contrast in different zones.
Okay, you got to avoid that.
There we go.
And what I'll do is I'll pick out a couple of the little
along the sides here.
I can pick out a little bit of the ground,
okay, because it's going to be a little bit lighter in value.
Just by sharpening the edges of some of those edges. Okay,
and then there's areas in here where we get leaves that are
This looks a little bit light.
But I'm just making these marks.
And then I'll smudge them a little bit to bring them close
in value again.
You see I can make it more subtle again.
You can see that I can get the effect of that subtle bushes
because I'm staying within these - the value group
You know if I have longer things kind of shooting
up into that I can soften that up that edge a little bit by
bringing some of those things up and make sure that my values
And if I have
a few of the highlights on the tops of the some of the leaves
and stuff back here and over in here I know this area is going
to get a little bit lighter because
it appears a little bit lighter and there is some - a
couple flowers and things kind of
blades of grass kind of shooting up a little bit. So
I'll get those in a similar value.
I'll make this -
this light area over the top of this dark area of this
overhanging leaves there.
I don't want to make it too light. See this can't be as
light as that. So I'm going to lighten this and that'll give
me a little more range to work with this. Okay, it's all
Okay, I'll get that
three value back in there
and I can get my
sharp edge back on this edge of this building
Got a little too bright, but see when I get my - when I work
with my value groups - this can get a little bit darker in
here. When I work with my value groups in here you can see it
makes it so much easier to manage as long as I maintain a
gap between each area just like this.
Just stay consistent with that. And once you group them, then you
can manage them pretty easily.
I'll go back into something like this. This needs to be
just a little bit darker.
This needs to be just a little bit darker.
Here we go.
So you can do this on your own if you want to get a
just get a photograph, but try to get something that has just
a small number of different value groups. Okay, and try to
identify their range, just do a gradient like this and identify
their range and then it's almost like a paint by number.
You identify the area by its value range and then you made
make sure that this range of values only exist in here.
Okay, or this is the predominant area
And you can also find that once you set your value ranges. You
may look at a situation. -I'm going to do another little
diagram really quick down here. You may end up as you move
forward, you may end up having a situation where you have
maybe a person and we'll put a tie on them.
Put him in a suit.
Okay, so we're going to put them in a suit like this.
Okay. Now what we might do is say the shirt is white.
So that's our lightest light and then what we might do is we
might say the skin
might be like this generally.
And let's say this is flatly lit. The background -
let's make the background a little bit darker.
This has to do with your value grouping as well.
Because I'm going just one, two, three, four.
My whitest white is a shirt.
And then the background and I'll say the tie is the same as
the background or similar, right? It's in within the same
Okay, and then let's just say his coat is much darker.
Now I have basically four different values. Okay.
These are four different value groups. Now once I establish
these value groups, the shirt being one, the skin being two, the
background and the tie being three, and the coat being four, once I
establish those I might say, okay were in this image is
the most contrast? Well, maybe it's on his face. Maybe
his eyes are dark and maybe his dark eyebrows,
maybe he's got dark hair that.
Comes in here like this.
And if we have the greatest contrast in there
we have some break up of light and shadow.
So we can say this is the area where we want greater contrast
and this zone
is way too light, as light as his shirt.
But you can see in here this is going to be the area that's
going to have the greater amount of contrast within that
one zone and maybe if we have a shadow on this maybe the
shadow is going to go with the same value as the background
and kind of soften some of those edges and you kind of
lose a few of those. Maybe
it's the case - let's get this a shirt really white.
And maybe we say there's not much contrast on the shirt
because it's just so white white.
we have a little bit more breakup on the background than
we do on his coat. his coat is like really dark and there's no
contrast on the background. So this is taking those value
groups from his shirt
to his skin,
skin to the BG, background,
and his tie to his coat.
Okay, and now that we have these value ranges what I did
here was I said in the coat area I have low contrast.
In the background and tie I might have
In the shirt I have very low contrast.
Okay, in his skin I have high contrast.
So what happens is I'm not only given myself these value
ranges but within each zone I've given a range of contrast.
So I can direct the viewer'e eye just by using my area of
contrast. You see that? High contrast in this area. Now the
fact that the tie next to the shirt and the coat next to the
shirt, there's a great amount of contrast there, but that
works as a zone next to a zone. This is one zone that has own. This is one zone that has
more contrast within that one zone. own.
So that's going to always catch your eye in there. This will be
stark but one of the things you can do to is you can give like
a softer softer edge to some of these, you know, if I give a
softer edge it would kind of imply that there was a little
bit of a shadowing but really not much at all.
See something like that? So you can get a lot of distance or
way down the road with your - with your image just by looking
at your value bracketing and then you're looking at the
range of contrast within each zone,
just like this and just like this.
So I think it would really be good. If you did a few examples,
do a few examples of maybe landscapes that have a simple
number of values that you can work with or if you want to
have a friend sit or do it from one of the photos online you
can do that as well and look for your value structures. So
you get your value groups eliminate the values in between
so that keeps it really separate and then once you do a
few of those then really start looking at okay in what area do
you have the greater contrast and whatever you do you have
less contrast and that again that will help move your eye
through the image and it will actually make it feel more like
reality because that's that is what happens. And this is a way
that you can direct the viewer's eye. You can tell them go to
the area of the greatest contrast. Okay, and that area
would be in there.
So even if I see I could go in and put if I wanted to I could
go in and put a little
highlight, you see?
If I have these things working you can see that -
you can see that the range of contrast there now pull that
back with those would be some highlights that you might some highlights that you might
see in there. And this is an area of interest. So your eye
is going to go there because it's a strong area of interest.
Transcription not available.
key into major and minor keys. So
we have a situation where we're going from say dark
to light and maybe this one is mostly dark. Okay,
so I'll give a gradient in here that is going from dark to
Okay, and it is mostly dark.
So in this situation, you can see that as I kind of rub this
I'm trying to get the charcoal down into the grain of
the paper just a little bit just to smooth it out. So we're
not so conscious of the grain of the paper right just for
this effect. And in this situation, we have an overall
composition or gradient silver all light goes from.
We can see this one is overall light and this is mostly dark.
Now we might look at this and say this is our major key.
Now your major key
equals the proportion.
This image is mostly dark with some contrast here. This image
is mostly light with some contrast. I can make this image
even appear even lighter by cutting back into this and
making it more overall light, but you can see there's still
some gradient. But if we were to look at this image, we might
say that's a low major key.
Meaning it's dark.
Okay, this might be a high major key and that's because
it's mostly light.
Okay, so the proportion in our major key if it's low or dark
or the proportion - greater proportion is light we might
say it has a high minor key. So this could go from a range of
let's just say 10 value dark all the way to zero which is
all the way light. So in our full spectrum we might go from
black all the way to white. But in this top end of the spectrum
we might say if our greater proportion is overall light we
might say it has a high major key. If it's down at the dark
end of the spectrum we might say it's a low major key. So
it's overall dark. So again major key is about proportion
and I would kind of
diagram that like this and say okay in this image, most of
this image -
I'll put two of them over here so we can do a dark one and a
light one. Most of this image is dark.
within the total there's some light but most of it is dark and
this one, maybe most of this one
is light so in this composition or this
image you're going to see that most of this one is light but it
has some contrast in it. Now let's talk about our minor key.
Our minor key
is the range of contrast.
Okay, so our minor key is a range of contrast and we might
view this in this way something that has
I'll just divide it up this way.
And I'll do three of them.
so this one we might say if we say this is a
high contrast, let's just make this high contrast from black
to white really strong.
Okay high contrast, as far as the range of contrast this
would be high,
Okay, that's a high minor key because we have the highest
contrast. We might then go to a medium. So let's just say this
and our medium contrast. It won't go all the way to white
but this we could consider medium contrast.
Now we have we also have low contrast or low minor
Okay, and low minor key might mean that there's low contrast.
So getting this distinction between the two sides of this
you might be very minimal. You see there's very little
contrast there. So it's low minor key. Medium minor key
because there's medium contrast and then the greatest contrast
here is a high minor key.
from our overall proportion that's your major key
dark overall light is in the proportion here and here then
we talk about our minor key. That's the range of contrast.
Now this fills out the whole dimension of our tonal
equation. Okay, because what ends up happening is if we only
look at a major and major key, like overall dark or overall
light, we don't have the complete range or understanding
that we can completely have so going to take it in to
you know, take it into this next step. So here we go into
the minor key. Now this is kind of interesting because we
have the high minor key or high contrast, again minor key is the
range of contrast and our high contrast is high minor-key.
Medium contrast would be a medium minor key and low
contrast would be low minor key. Now I don't want this to get
confusing, but I'm going to you another low minor key. I'll do
it down here. Here's a low minor key.
Okay. Now this is also low
minor key. This is and this one. This is just a high major
key. This is a low major key. See overall dark,
overall light. Just like this overall dark low contrast is a
low minor key. Overall light with low contrast is also a low
minor key. So the range of contrast again, we consider
this our minor key. So a medium,
okay, a medium might be a little bit darker.
Medium contrast like this. Okay. I'm going to even lighten
this one just a little bit just so that it's real subtle.
I'll make that real clean and I would suggest for you guys
make these little diagrams as clean as you can. Okay, because
we're still working with our
control our pencil control and so on. So if there's little
contrast here, I'm going to lighten this up just a little
There we go. Then you can see a real distinction between low
contrast or low minor key, medium contrast, medium minor
key, and then high contrast,
high contrast in a high minor key is going to look just like
Now the reason that I divide a circle just in half is because
this minor key is not about the proportion. This is about
contrast only. Okay. So this might be a high minor.
And what that equates to is this a high minor key and also
high minor key medium minor keys and low minor keys. I
being a low minor key doesn't mean that it's dark like this
like a 10 to 0, this means if there's low contrast there may
only be a small step of contrast in here or a small
step of contrast in here. The medium is going to have a
greater range of contrast in both, whether it's overall dark
or whether our major key is overall dark or its overall
light. It doesn't matter, our high contrast medium
contrast low contrast is suited for this now.
If we put these two ideas together, what I want you to do
is I want you to draw nine rectangles. I'll do that right
Okay now within these nine I want you to draw
and that division.
Circle and the division.
Circle the division
now what's going to happen here the background is going
to represent our major key.
Okay, because it's going to be the larger area or
surface area within your image or composition.
so if the backgrounds are going to represent our major key then
let's just say we have high
So that'll be just across the top here high medium and low
major key. So let's go ahead and illustrate that by putting
a medium value
is getting even medium value all the way across.
You can practice your directional markings and stuff
like that like Chris was going over, you can practice that or
just get an even tonal quality that Heather was showing you as
Okay, so there's medium
do the same.
And this medium
again, this is our major key the greater proportion of your
is a medium value.
Okay, and then low, I'm going to make this darker.
So the backgrounds here are going to be dark. So we have
light, medium, dark.
And I'll just fill this in just
does an exercise this is going to be a really good not only an
exercise to work on but this is going to be something that
you might want to do on a good piece of paper that you're
going to hang on to it for a while because you might refer
over and over.
This is going to help our next step of image making.
Got to clean this up just a little bit.
Here we go.
this one dark as well.
So you want to make sure they are - these are pretty even
so that you don't confuse yourself with with having
variations where it's just a display of these simple
ideas, okay? Don't want anything to confuse you there. So overall
light, overall medium ,overall dark. That's our major key.
Now, what we want to do is we want to look at the range of
contrast. That's our minor key and I'll put our minor
Okay, and our minor key again it's our range of contrast here
and we might say high,
Okay. Now that would mean our range of contrast in this row
would be high contrast. Okay. So in this situation, what I
would do is I would want the greatest contrast in here. So
I'm going to give my black black on my white white.
Okay, I get the greatest contrast in here.
Okay, same thing here. I want the greatest amount of contrast
in here. So within this overall
grey image I'm going to have some element that's dark and
some element that's light. As white as I can get it.
I'm just going to refine this to make it a little clearer.
That's at that's what it is. And in our
low major key. We're going to have high contrast in our low
major key. I'm going to go ahead and make this really
High contrast in our low major key
So it's a high
meaning a lot of contrast and a low situation or a low major
key. Now I'm going to jump right to the low contrast in
here. So if it's overall light and there's low contrast, this
also has to be very light.
in the medium situation this there's going to be a low
contrast. So maybe one of these sides is going to be medium or
close to medium.
I'll make this just a little bit darker.
and then with low contrast this is only going to be
a little bit lighter
try to make sure that this circle is just clear enough,
but it's low contrast in here.
See that and then with the darkest dark, I'm going to go
very low contrast here.
Because this is really dark this half
and this half is pretty dark as well.
I'm going to need to
capture a little bit of
shape backs on me line it up just a little bit in there.
And again, I'm keeping very low contrast
within that little divided circle.
Okay, and now I'm looking at somewhere in the middle. So
medium contrast in the overall light. I'm going to get
something in between this and this.
So there might be medium contrast. It's not as contrasty as
this and it's not as
minimal of contrast as this.
so I'll go back and forth and I'll measure you know, once I
do one, I'll do the top and the bottom and then I'll do the
Okay, so that I can get a clear distinction there and here I
low contrast, medium contrast might mean that I'm going to
make this side between this and this.
And you can see there's a medium a light medium value
here and white. I might need to just bring this down just a
little bit, not much just a little bit. I'll just do enough and
then I'll get the edge to show.
Right. So there we have
just a little bit of contrast, medium contrast because it's
white, medium, and medium in here or low contrast. This is closer
to this value. So that means I'm going to need to lighten
this up a little bit more.
Here we go. Okay medium contrast and now I'm going to
go to high contrast in my low major key
and high minor key, high contrast, okay.
If you want to pause and see what I'm doing, pause and do it
while I'm doing this, that's great because then you can
follow along. I don't want you to just kind of think it
through. I want you to really do it because I found that when
students actually do follow the examples, they learn faster. So
go ahead and follow these. This is an overall dark. Again
that's your low major key. Now we are - we have low contrast, a
little minor key we have high contrast in the high minor key
and this will be medium. Okay, so go ahead and make
this close to the background here. So it's going to get
medium amount of contrast and then
the lighter area is going to be - going to halfway in between.
Try to try to shore up this shape just a little bit so that
in the same world.
Kind of knock that down a little, this could be less
contrast you see? So now we get this distinction not - let me let
me brighten this up just a little bit.
Medium contrast. So you can see that we have these
these nine variations and they're really just based on
your major and minor key major key. Again I'll keep
repeating but I'll keep repeating again. Your major key
is the overall proportion that's the greater amount of That's the greater amount of
your image is overall light, overall medium, or overall dark.
Your minor key is the range of contrast within there, so your
range of contrast is going to be either high contrast, medium
contrast, or low contrast. Now I did it in these flat diagrams
but now what I'm going to do is I'm going to - and I hope you
follow with me - I'm going to repeat this exercise, but I'm
going to repeat it with the appearance of a light
Okay now in this situation, I'm going to draw a circle.
But I'm not going to divide it in half. I'm just going to
drive the draw the circle first.
Okay. Now that I drew the circle, I'm going to say let's
make a light direction coming down this way on all of these.
So I might say this is the area of this instead of a
circle divided I'm going to make
a shadow on the ground from
this light source from on this circle. I'm going to make it
feel like a sphere. So again, I'm going to go like this and
I'm going to make it - I'm going to do this little diagram for
Circle got a little bit sawed-off there.
Now I'm going to follow the same pattern that I did up
above where the backgrounds here are our light. These are
going to be medium and these are going to be dark. Okay,
I'll straighten this up. might as well just start with this one.
I'll make it this dark.
And I'm going to do the background and at this point
I'm not going to include the shadow shape
in with tone yet. I'm just going to leave it as a shape
and make sure I get my larger major key
blocked in dark.
I'm pushing through this pretty quick. But if you want to slow
it down or stop it while you
get all these in here,
Okay, again, we have our overall dark and overall light.
That's our major key.
Now I'm going to put in my medium.
It's gonna be my medium value.
And I just want to get it in kind of even.
Again, I'm rushing this through might want to take your time
and make some really nice charts.
Because like I said, this is something that you're going to
want to hang onto because there's a really good lesson in
this and if you always keep this in your mind, it's going
to make a lighting things, objects, down the road is going
to make a whole lot more sense.
You don't often hear people talk about major and minor
keys. It's - usually they just leave it with a key.
And that's fairly vague so we can be much more discriminating
about the makeup and the nature of our imagery. Even we can
determine a clear mood. This is really about how you can
determine a mood and once we get this chart done, you're
going to see how this mood is going to play out or how you
can create different moods just with your tonal structure.
By tonal structure I mean your major and minor keys.
overall medium. Okay. Now we're going to look here at now is
high contrast of your minor key, your minor key again I'll put
Minor key comes along this way and your major key,
okay, light medium dark, okay or high medium low.
Okay, and if this is your minor key arranged of contrast is
Okay, so if we're looking at our greatest contrast in this
situation we might have great contrast between the light
and the shadow.
So there's a strong contrast in here.
And the shadow - the contact shadow on the ground and the
shadow on the little ball it might even merge in here
because it's a shadow shape.
It's its own characters. That's a strong
effect right there.
Clean that up just a little bit.
I even softened the edge just a little bit to make it
transition and feel a little bit more like forms that we go
from light into shadow.
Okay, so there's high contrast now in here. We're going to also
get a high contrast.
So I'm going to go ahead and put
this in here.
So in this we might also have a real strong
contrasting shadow shape
and contact shadow.
And in our overall dark,
all right our overall dark image or our low major key we have a
high minor key. So again high contrast here.
So I am going to
put a soft edge onto here.
And go into the darkness here.
Just to clean this up just a little bit.
Make this really dark in here.
As I work with this just a little bit I'm going to make
sure that I kind of hang on to a few little little edges
because I think that's going to be
important. Let me get this little darkness out of here
because we're looking at this.
There we go.
There we go, and all this can go into a darkness here.
I'm making sure that I get my highest contrast in here
against the light. I have the dark against the light there
and that remains pretty clear.
Now I'm going to go down to my low contrast. Okay, and my low
contrast I might have this just very subtle.
Might even want to just diminish this just a little
Okay and if I want to hang on to this - the edge up here just a
maybe I just have a little bit of
subtle value change here.
Just to pick up the form.
And make that little ball stand out against the background.
Still keeping the overall image or the major key, very light.
And low contrast meaning low minor key.
Now low contrast in here might mean that
a little darker but close in value.
this is just a little bit lighter than the background.
And again, I'll just do a little bit of value adjustment
here just to hang on to that leading edge so that we can
define if I don't want to darken the overall scheme
Pick that - pick up a little bit of that back out again so it
gets a little more even.
There we are.
There we go.
Okay medium contrast - or excuse me a low contrast and then
we're going to go to low contrast here in the
low major key and a low minor key.
Okay, so we get this dark dark shadow shape
dark shadow shape and
very low contrast in here.
And I hope this kind of clears it up. I know over
here in this demonstration. It's kind of confusing where
you say a low minor key and a low minor key in this
situation. You know, we look at it and think oh, well that must
be high but that's your high major key, not your high minor
key or minor key's your range of contrast. It's easier to see in
diagrams so that's why these become important so we have low
minor key, low contrast, and then high contrast in an overall
light medium and dark major key. Now I'm going to go to my
medium contrast. So I'm going to go in the middle of these
My darken this up a little bit just to - because I'm working one
against the other and that's important.
Don't feel you have to make one perfect and the other one
exactly and then exactly you can go back then exactly you can go back
and forth like I'm doing here. It's overall high contrast, okay,
medium contrast, low contrast. So maybe I want to pick up a
little bit more -
little less contrast by diminishing that a little bit,
maybe I'm going to in this medium contrast maybe I'm
just going to get a little bit of
tone to play off of that.
I can get a little bit on this too.
Just enough to get that edge - that leading edge read.
Because if we're saying it's overall light, I want to make
sure the proportion of my image is mostly light.
That's in here.
And then medium. If we go to the medium, we're going to look at
low contrast, medium contrast, and then high contrast. Again
I'll push this a little bit stronger so I have a little
more latitude in my medium one here.
I'm going to go right in the middle of those.
Get this medium value kind of working a little bit like the
And we're looking at our medium contrast in here.
So I have the shadow
and the sphere, the shadow on the sphere. this on the sphere.
Okay, so now
we get this
reading like a spheres are.
I'm not I- 'm getting the charcoal down into the tooth of
There's a little more medium value.
Our medium contrast and then our highest contrast up here.
I can make this feel like it's just a lighter sphere in
and that would increase that as well.
Now let's review these.
Okay, let's take a look. Though I just - in the top images
here what I did is I just used kind of a graphic symbol
to show the contrast within the major keys. Down here I use
shapes that might reflect a sphere and the effect of light.
Okay applying the same idea of this major key and minor key and
breaking it down, you can see that all nine of these create a
little bit different mood.
And it's more obvious down in here
and I'll describe some of those. In the middle here we have a in the middle here. We have a
tendency to have something something like this is a little
bit kind of kind of melancholy.
This as opposed to this or maybe this in here start to
feel a little bit more dreamlike or dreamy. This
very moody. Very dark and Moody. Okay, where is this can
feel kind of threatening, it's overall dark but there's a high
contrast almost like a spotlight or a flashlight in
the dark and so this kind of an arrangement with a low major
key and a high minor key might give you a darkened more
dramatic or scary threatening kind of a feeling as opposed to
this one over here where it's mostly light and yet there's a
good amount of contrast in here. I can do this since
I've got a good amount of contrast on the shadow here,
even if I increase the major key just a little bit more, that
means increase the proportion portion of light value if I
make this sphere I feel like it's a little bit lighter
something like that.
Out of all of these this one seems to have a mood that is a
little bit brighter
and light-hearted as we go down here. It starts to become a
little bit more dream-like, hazy and dream-like this is also
kind of a hazy. This is stronger contrast, but again
get starts to get a little murky and then scary over in
here. So we can start to create these different moods are the
mood of our image can be determined by the combination
or the interaction of the major and minor keys. So this is how
we would break down the arrangement of values initially
in our images by major and minor key major being the
greater proportion or identifying the greater
proportion as overall dark overall light and your minor
key in terms of range of contrast within the image. high
minor key. High contrast. Low minor key, low contrast. High
minor key, great contrast. Low minor key, low contrast. And as
it plays out in our illusionary world of spheres and solid
objects w end up feeling a mood that this translates and
it comes directly from these two relationships.
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Reference Images (21)
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1. Learning Recommendation24sNow playing...
1. Analyzing the Values of an Image36m 37sNow playing...
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2. Creating a Value Chart for Your Image8m 40s
3. Breaking Down Values in an Image11m 4s
4. Using Value Groups in a Landscape Image19m 35s
5. Adding Highlights and Refining Your Landscape Drawing16m 4s
6. Learning Recommendation24s
7. Major and Minor Key Value Chart22m 58s
8. Representing Each Major and Minor Key with a Tonal Structure23m 12s