Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Importance of the Value Sketch

A couple of workshops ago when I told my students that I would prefer to see a value sketch before they started painting,  one student  produced a revealing effort.

There was a fairly accurate line drawing of the lighthouse, with an outline of the roof, the windows and doors, and the top of the light.  There was an indication of trees along the shore and the rocks on the beach.  The problem was that there were no value differences in those shapes.  Inside the tree shape there were some squiggles, an attempt to provide a textural suggestion of leaves, I think. 
More squiggles on the sides of the building and on the rocks.  All these areas were fairly light and tentative.

When I asked the student to point out the #1 value, she correctly identified the sky, but suddenly realized that the beach and water were also #1 values in her sketch.  She then identified the tree line as #2, but that was the extent of the the #2 value.  There were no #3 or #4 values. 

The problem was that she was confusing a line drawing with a value sketch.  There was also an attempt to indicate textures rather than values.  With only two values present, and those so close that they were barely distinguishable, her value sketch was basically useless.  A good value sketch can be a map as to what to paint first, second, third, etc. traditionally proceeding from light values to dark.   It can also be useful in conveying where the greatest contrasts in values occur, creating an area of interest.  Last, a value sketch can also tell you where to preserve the white shapes.

See if you can clearly label five values (not including the saved whites)  in this value sketch. 

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