VALUE: relative degree
of light or dark
Martha Alf oil painting
Objects intrinsically have lighter or darker color--their “local value”;
artists look for a range of values within color, created by reflected
light or by shadow.
A black-and-white drawing
can show the range of values
from darkest to lightest,
regardless of color.
Portrayal of how a form’s
surface “catches” or
reflects light can reveal it
as a three-dimensional
form in space.
Hatching and cross-hatching create shading to show space (dimension) creating
variety of darker and lighter surfaces.
The arrangement of shapes of darker or lighter values (and of shapes and negative
shapes) is a fundamental aspect of creating a composition.
The interplay of dark
and light values in a
for dramatic effect.
What are some uses of value
in a composition?
• Contrasting values create
separation and definition of
• Arrangement of areas of darker
or lighter value create structure or balance in the composition.
• Value contrasts can be used for dramatic, emotional
effect; value qualities (light, dark or intermediate) can
evoke a particular mood or atmosphere.
• Differing values may portray SPACE, as darker and
lighter values indicate how light hits a 3-d surface,
and how shadows are cast by an object.
In drawings on white paper, the
lightest value (white) is often portrayed by the reserved white of the paper.
Martha Alf (graphite)
White chalk on
can also create
a range of
values --where darkest
value is the
On a mid-toned paper,
black and white chalk can
create the darkest and
lightest values; the paper
an intermediate value.
The following slides are
examples of the use of black
and white chalks on midtoned paper.
Note that “grays” (or mid-tone values)
are not created by mixing black and white,
but by the paper color itself, as well as
lighter shadings of white or black.