Value is the element of art that describes the amount of lightness or darkness in a hue. In a black and white photo, white is the lightest value, and black is the darkest value. There are shades of gray in between that range from white to black. Artists use a value scale to determine the value of the color (hue) they are using. The value of colors in a composition is actually of more importance than the colors themselves.
It is often difficult to determine the value of colors in a picture. The colors can become a distraction and the mind isn’t seeing what it really needs to see. It is far easier to determine value in a picture which is black, white and shades of gray. So why am I bringing this up in a colored pencil post? Because it would be a great idea to make a value scale of your colored pencils. After a bit of searching I found a great blog explaining how to make a value scale with colored pencils. She is using blank, white business cards as her base and then putting them into a business card carry case.
I admit, I didn’t think of the business cards and holder as an option until I saw her post. I’m planning to make a flip through book held together with a metal ring, in the same way I’ve made my techniques tags. Either of these ideas will work very well.
My plan is to make a 5 level value scale for each of my colored pencils using white Neenah cardstock purchased from Walmart. Divide the 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet into thirds, length wise. Now make 5 equally sized squares from top to bottom of the paper. I will be using the back side for the name and number of the color and brand of the pencil.
Begin with your darkest value at the top of the strip, with the lightest value at the bottom. You could also divide each of the five squares in half to make a 10 shade value scale. For my purposes, a 5 level scale is enough.
Once you have your paper cut and the squares drawn on the strips of paper, you can begin coloring them in. This will take a long time, I’m not going to lie to you. But if you pop in some music, take your time and have fun with this project, I don’t think you’ll ever be sorry you did it.
You will develop blending skills, coloring skills, and you will be training your mind to see values and not just color. And seeing values is an important artist skill. Some would even say it’s the most important artist skill.
Once you’ve made your value book, you will use it over and over again. Honestly, you won’t know how you did without them. Value scales can take your art to another level.