Art Education Lessons
How to add Value & Shading to Create the Illusion of Form
Production Standard
Traditional art studies press value (shading) as the dominant element.
Students often do life studies using charcoal or pencil bringing things to life on the flat picture plan.
A primary flaw in student's artwork is the image looking flat.
Adding value to a picture has a aesthetic and utilitarian function.
Aesthetics Value:
It breaks up our surface into clearly defined areas.
It helps establish a focal point.
The Baroque artists used it in an extreme way (chiaroscuro) by bringing the subject into bright illumnation and allowing most of the background to fade into deep shadows.
As an artist we can manipulate values, and push highlights and shadows for effect.
Utilitarian Value:
To create the illusion that our flat 2D picture holds 3D properties we must undertand how value works in our image.
If you want to capture realism you must understand atmospheric perspective and how value changes in space and with light source.

What are drawing pencils?
B pencils = more pure graphite - - - - - -The H pencils = more filler.
Most pencils run $.75 to $1.50 each.
Use matte fixative or hair spray on drawings.

9H-5H Very Hard graphite pencil [Lightest] Use for technical drawings such as engineering & architecture.
Helpful in adding very soft tones
4H-H   Hard graphite pencil [Light]
F/HB/#2 Medium graphite pencil [Basic] Basic over all sketching pencil
B-4B Soft graphite pencil [Dark] Great for gesture drawing and lose sketching
Adding dark tones
5B-9B/Ebony Very Softest graphite pencil [Darkest]
How to Shade a gradient box:
Keep your pencils sharp.
Save the blender stumps for charcoal and conte'
Don't smudge or use the side of your pencil.Avoid dirty looking tones.
Create value by making light lines side-by-side carefully. Build up tone gradually.
Don't push down so hard you emboss the paper compromising the paper surface. Build tone up slowly.
Keep paper under your hand to prevent smudging .
Avoid erasing. It returns the rendering back to a smudged look.
Gradation Key Charts
There is an unlimited value range. Some people with high perception can see up to 150 variations.
Most artist simplify nature into about ten values of black, white and 8 grays.
Do a bar for each pencil with no seams as the value makes lighter transitions.
Draw the box aftward, but no tornado shapes as you move towards the light values

-Basic Gradient: White to Black. Middle gray is centered
On a sunny day you can see a full range of values.Bright sunshine even defines darker shadows.
basic gradient

Now use all the pencils together and create a value box. HB will do the majority of the work. Don't allow the B pencils to add too much texture. The 4H does a great job of filling in tone and add super light values.

Now practice a high key and low key. When might you create an image using only this tone range? Think about this technique in photography and film making also.

high key
-High Key Gradient : Gray to White. If the high key image is full color we often refer to it as pastel colors because the colors have a lighter tint of the original color.
low key
-Low Key Gradient : Black to Gray
On an overcast day the tone range is limited. In film it is used to show gloomy days, dusk, or night scenes.

Advanced Work:
Build a gradient bar using cut out photogaphs.
Build gradient bars using other materials such as pen & ink.
2D Shape to 3D Form
2D 3D


circle sphere
square cube
Rectangle cylinder
triangle cone, pyramid
Rendering Objects
Directional Light Sources

(1) Simple Single Direct Light Source (sun, lightning, camera flash, etc)
-With strong lighting the edgeof the object facing the light disappears into the highlight. With soft light the objects starts blending in with it's background.
(2) Double Light: a. strong primary light b. softer secondary light
(3) Flat diffused light: a: dreary, overcast day b. Indoor room with lots of light sources
(4) Sculptural Light: Invented light that explore most aspects of the form

Light Types: Warm & Cold.
Light amounts: overexposure and chiaroscuro.

Objective Surfaces: Watch for texture, and shiny objects.

Color as Value
"pretend that your eye is a camera loaded with black-and-white-film"-Wendon Blake (The Artist's Magazine)
Show two pictures (one in full color) (same picture as b/w tone)
Look at the above photographs and process color as value.
yellows = light gray,
green=medium gray

Art History:
Rembrandt, chiaroscuro.
____MODELING: Effective modeling using highlight and shadows describe the form.
____TONE: Able to translate color into a smooth gradient value.
____CONTRAST: Appropriate tone key using tint, tone and shade.
____CRAFTSMANSHIP: Smudge free. Paper used under hand.
____TOOLS: Effective use of various types of drawing pencils

WARM UP: Do gradient tone studies from black and white photos and sculpture. Do a small drawing from a section of a photograph.
Project Options: Organic & Geometric Forms
Draw a series of organic and geometric forms. Model them using sculptural lighting or pick a single light source. For contrast maybe add small organic & geometric shapes in the background.
-use overlapping
-push the scale of the obects
-add light texture to objects
Project Options: Overexposure & Chiaroscuro
Bring in a flashlight or single light. Turn off lights in room..
-Use a mirror and study the effects of dramatic singular light on your face.
-Pick one simple object and do 3-5 studies moving the light to various locations, above, below, and different sides.

Project Options: Objects
Pick one
- backpack.
-basketball/softball/golf ball
-small statue
-wrinkled paper bag wrinkled
-wrinkled piece of paper or foil
-misc objects from home or classroom (i.e. plumbing pipes, toothpaste, spaghetti, donut, garden hoses)

Project Options: Starting with a Toned Surface
-Toned paper using watercolor. Use conté over top.
Project Options:
-Charcoal-Chiaroscuro on still life.
Project Options: Limiting the number of values
-Try a still life just using 3 values. This is best done with gray markers, or premixed ink jars.
Project Options:
-Draw a still life in light pencil. Pick one or two objects and draw them in extreme detail.
Project Options:
-Students find a b/w photograph. They cut the picture in 1/2 and try to replicate the value studies from the photograph. Optional: Allow students to lightly sketch out photo on lighttable so they can focus just on value work.
VOCABULARY: Value, tone, shade, high key, low key, shading, chiaroscuro, achromatic (colors with same gray and no hue)
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