The Compositional Element of Value

The Compositional Element of Value

Becky Joy

Composition Element Value

The lightness or darkness of a color or grays, white being the lightest, black the darkest. Sometimes referred to as tones. Values create spacial illusions and form through gradations in values and separates one object from another.

Tints are colors with white added to them. Shades are colors with black added to them.

A painting should be either predominantly light or dark, not equal parts. A predominantly light painting with few darks is considered to be a high key painting. A low key painting is predominantly dark values.

Low Key

High Key

To simplify painting, we traditionally break down values into 10 units with white being #10 and black being #1.

Values are arguably the most important element.

  • Focal points are created with the relationship of value with the eye drawn to light values.
  • The relationship on values to one another create impact in a painting.
  • Values give forms to objects making them look three dimensional on a two dimensional surface.
  • Values can create moods in a painting.
  • Depth in a painting is created by gradations in values.

Mid Values

Strong Light & Dark Values

View the differences between a value sketch with mostly a mid value range and a value sketch with strong lights and darks.

Creating Mood in Values

Creating a Sense of Time of Day

Colors have values

Green Values

Red Values

Blue Values

Yellow Values


Each color has their own value.


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