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The value of value sketches

Good artists preach the importance of value, and most of them recommend making a value sketch (or study) before beginning the painting.

What is value?
Value is another term for tone. It refers to the relative lightness and darkness of the shapes in the painting. A painting with appropriate values is a more interesting painting. Value is more important than color.

Take a look at these examples. On the left is a monochromatic view that shows roughly four basic values. On the right is the color version. Note that the values still define the shapes. If the values are not planned, this may not be the case.

Harbortown umbrellas - watercolor painting -Black and whiteHarbortown umbrellas - watercolor painting

Outdoor Umbrellas: Harbor Town, South Carolina
by James Stephens

Shapes are important. They help us recognize what we're viewing. Here's a rule: Values, not color, should define shapes.

The Sidebar at the left shows you how to do it.


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