View Full Version : color and value...do you have trouble with it?

12-11-2003, 08:00 PM
Santa was very good to me (new set of Holbeins) and I just finished doing my color charts on white and black supports. I then changed them to grayscale in a photo program. Thought I'd show you newer pastelists that might be struggling with getting color in the right tone a way to figure out your values with your own set of pastels. You can see that they change according to how dark the surface is too...you can see that certain colors in the full range are very light like pale yellow or very dark like Indigo blue...these are all in sets of 5 tones to a color...


hope this helps someone!

12-11-2003, 10:12 PM
Thanks Dyin!
This would make a good exercise for everyone!

12-11-2003, 10:23 PM
thanks, Carly...I thought so too when I saw it done! I know Jackie Simmonds has brought this up in the past and it was of value to me then, so worth passing on to some of the newer people here.

Stoy Jones
12-12-2003, 01:17 AM
Knowing that I'm "tonal blind" :D this will certainly come in handy! Thanks!!


12-12-2003, 02:58 AM
Great idea Sue.
I record all my colours as I buy them, on a sheet of mid-tone grey, just to keep a record for future buying. I hadn't thought to do them on light and dark as well. And I certainly haven't gone as far as scanning them in grey-scale. Project for the holidays I think...


12-12-2003, 03:27 AM
Very helpfull indeed, thank you, I wish I'd had this type of vision, to be able switch to the gray scale, when I need that; too bad they didn't program my brain the right way, I'm still not getting the "value" issue sometimes...
Thank you

12-12-2003, 03:31 AM
well done you, that is a great exercise.

And those of you who say you are "tonal blind", or "dont get tones" ....I suggest you try this, and really work at it, because if you never "get" tones, you will never be able to produce a really good piece of representational work. This is something you HAVE to "get".


12-12-2003, 08:24 PM
Great job Sue this indeed will surely be valuable to those that struggle with tonal values, I hope this will encourage everyone to try, it;'s a great excercise to do and so much can be learnt from it. saves a heck of a lot of heartache tooo.

I'm seething with envy here about your Chrissy pressie. ~~ you lucky so and so. :D no more excuses now is there, :D::evil: :D ;) :p :p: :cat:


12-12-2003, 10:56 PM
Did you photograph these or scan them or what?
I did an experiment , and photographed, scanned and photocopied results were all different from each other in greyscale.. Photocopiers will darken red and lighten blue, scanners do something weird like that but I forget what, and digital photographs are the most accurate.

12-12-2003, 11:02 PM
digi pics and then not made to black and white, but done in a program that does grayscale. Scanners are bad for any photos in black and white I've found...results seem pretty accurate in real life from this method though...especially on the black surface you can see it's right on...but interesting point if someone is going to try this..thanks!

12-13-2003, 03:49 AM
Sue, I think you have done this, but maybe others haven't, and it is a good way to check whether you have got the whole deal about seeing colours in their right values. Doing your chart is helpful........to a point...but checking whether yuo have actually "got it" can be done with this exercise. The reason I say this, is because I believe it is important to physically DO the translation from colour, to tone, in your head and with your hands, rather than have a computer do it, so that you really learn, and then when you are looking at your subject, you start to automatically see colour in its correct tone value.

This exercise is in the "colour by value" thread in the archive, but never mind, I daresay there are people who haven't seen it.

Take an old magazine. Find a page with a good colour photo, or advertisement, in it. Tear out a strip from that page, about 1" wide. This will give you a coloured "ribbon".

Stick this down onto a sheet of white paper, and alongside it, copy the strip, but only in shades of light grey, through to black, trying to be as close to the tone as you can be. - squint, it will make it easier.

Then, when you have finished, take your piece of white paper with the two strips on it, and scan them in greyscale.

If you have two identical strips..........you have cracked translating colour into tone!!

Here are my quick efforts, to show what I mean. first one is coloured (though I have to admit there wasn't much change of colour in my chosen strip, better to find something more colourful) and the second one is scanned greyscale.



Now a further challenge. You could copy the strip again, from the greyscale version only this time........into other colours. Any colours you like. Do two versions - one multicoloured, and one in, say, shades of blue. Now check again by scanning greyscale. If you got it right - you go to the top of the class! Lots of gold stars!!!

Try it. It's fun.


12-13-2003, 05:30 AM
Sheeeeesh . . Weird this thread came up while I was on holidays.

I couldn't pack much so I just took a few sheets of A4 greyscale Canson and two pastel sticks . . black and white . . just so I could do some daily sketching (which I'm now getting in the habit of doing). With only these two sticks and grey paper it really forces you to "get" tone correct coz there ain't nothin' else to work with!!

I find this really helpful, particularly when your practicing on something you want to convert into a painting. I'm thinking of doing another still life with some plastic bags in it so (and excuse the corny prop . .but it was all I could find!!) I popped a few tennis balls (which I had handy . .on holidays y'know) into a bag and tied them to a black suitcase (to give me a dark background). I then got the bedside lamp from the hotel room and set it on an angle to get side-lighting and sketched away!! . . . try it . . grey paper, and two sticks . .it really helps.

Anyway, here's my effort . .about an hour's worth on A4 sheet



12-13-2003, 12:02 PM
dont think you have too much trouble, seeing colour as tone, Crumby. Nice drawing.

Hope the holiday was good, and that you weren't shut away drawing all day.


Deborah Secor
12-13-2003, 01:32 PM
Jackie, I must steal your idea for a class! What a great exercise. I just know it would help my students understand value (or tone) better.

What I've done with them is have them take a color photograph and make a good black and white copy (an accurate grayscale copy). Then I have them make a painting of it, using the color photo, putting down the opposite colors. They usually have to have a color wheel at hand so they can remember the complement. If the sky is blue it becomes orange, green trees are red, yellow grass is lavender, etc. Then using the gray copy they paint the whole thing using the complements. It's a blast and they learn so much about value from trying to do it. If the value of the blue sky is light then the value of the orange must be light too. If the value of the trees is dark, the red must be dark. When you switch to the gray copy and go on painting it allows you to play with the colors creatively. I sometimes suggest they go back over the top of it, using the complements as an underpainting and matching color to value.

I wrote an article about this in the PJ. Here's a photo to help you see what I mean. This is the half and half layer, with the complements underneath and a layer of 'real' color on top:


12-13-2003, 07:51 PM
Hey...this thread is getting some good stuff in it ! Crumby...that's awesome...looks JUST like plastic....and thanks, Jackie and Dee, for adding some good exercises!!!