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Foundations of Drawing
Illustration by John Hersey

Using a value strip


From:

Foundations of Drawing

with Will Kemp

Video: Using a value strip

When you first come to drawing, the real So what I've got here is a tonal value strip.

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Foundations of Drawing
2h 24m Beginner Apr 28, 2014

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Anyone can learn how to draw. Success comes down to three things:

Shape: By focusing on the shapes of the objects (and more importantly the shapes between the objects) you can view subjects with a whole new outlook and focus.

Simplicity: You'll get better results by concentrating on simple subjects and drawing techniques that will still prove powerful when used together.

Structure: A structured approach makes drawing easier to master.

Each chapter in this course is built on these three principles, combining drawing theory and practical examples with worksheets and drawing assignments. Will Kemp brings his passion for teaching and infectious love of drawing together in these lessons. You'll learn about line, value, tone, negative space, and perspective, and come away with the confidence to start making drawing a daily practice.

This course was created and produced by Will Kemp. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Materials you need to draw
  • Drawing theory
  • Framing your composition
  • Using the picture plane
  • Creating contrast
  • Using negative space to create more powerful compositions
  • Creating form from shadows and light
Subjects:
Design Drawing Design Skills
Author:
Will Kemp

Using a value strip

When you first come to drawing, the real classic beginner mistake is not going dark enough with the pencil, or definitely not going dark enough in the shadows of what you're drawing. This is because you've got shadow blindness. So, the way you see a subject you think mm, if I go that dark it's going to look really, really black, and initially no one wants to make a black, moody drawing. But what's amazing in drawing and painting, is how dark you can go in certain parts of the piece. And because you go this dark, it makes your picture look very three dimensional, very realistic.

So what I've got here is a tonal value strip. I use it for my paintings as well as my drawings. A quick exercise for you to try is to download the tonal values strip. And to try and match the tones that are there with your pencils. Leaving the first one white then experiment with the HB to do the very lightest tone, then 9B for the very darkest tone. So here's a couple of pictures to illustrate how you'd use a tonal strip. If we were looking at the cheek on this Michelangelo drawing, initially your brain will say that the cheek that's quite light, coz it's nearly in the light of the picture.

But when we hold the tone up to it the value strip, you can see that even the mid tone is still too light, it's only when we get right up here is practically the darkest at this part. When you hold the value strip next to the cheek you confidently say, yep, that's quite close. That's a really good tone. But when you hold it away it definitely doesn't look that dark. Also on this other picture, this is by seurat, and again when we look at the face it's even darker than this.

It's very close to this black tone in between the two here. But when you take it away, you don't think it's going to be as dark as that. So, here's an example of a painting that's got a wide tonal range in it. And if you look at how the light is falling, you've got the brightest lights right here on the top, and down the t-shirt and then the light just fades off into black. So the light's coming from this direction, up high are really splits this right across here. Notice down here how the dark's are really, really soft it blends into the background.

And this is something to be aware of in your drawing. The areas in the light can have a crisp or sharper line to them, whilst areas in the shadows can be smudged away. And just soften it, and blend into the background. Again, if you look down here, you can see how this is a very, very soft blend, while the edge here on the white is a lot brighter, sharper line.

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