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Old 05-08-2019, 08:57 AM
DamenFaltor DamenFaltor is offline
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Question Learning Values

I'm a very new beginner to art, and I recently posted a thread here about choosing colors. I received a great amount of advice and direction - and a large consensus that learning how to get the values right is a key step to learning which colors to use.

Since I am new, I figure starting with a reference photo is probably the best idea (Thank you WFMArtin!). I started playing around with that yesterday. I have this problem where I can't seem to separate out the hue from the value unless the value is VERY obvious. The hue distracts me.

Then I got an idea - I could put the reference photo in photoshop, tell it to gray scale the image for me, and then use that! I also decided, that perhaps the best way was for me to pick one color (like a green) and use that to paint the values in while keeping the reference photo in literal gray scale, to try and get my brain trained to pick value out of colors.

Is this a good idea, or am I setting myself up for a tumble? Any other tips for training the brain to pick out values in a full color photo?
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:43 AM
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sykirobme sykirobme is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Resampling a photo in greyscale is VERY helpful exercise. You're on the right track!
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:52 AM
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Ted Bunker Ted Bunker is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Quiltmakers often use a pair of dark green and dark red plastic lens to check the value balance of the quilt while laying out their sewing pieces. They're not expensive, and I think they're better in the long run than Photoehop since you're relying on your own perception of value, ...rather than the camera and the PS software. Plus you can tuck then in your paint box for using in the studio or plein air. No batteries required.

Not to say that PS conversion is bad, but learning to trust your own painterly perceptions is important. The camera just makes so many compromises, and there's the "post card effect" to deal with.

I'm hardly a purist, but I naively believe there's two kinds of reference photographs in the studio. (A) There's the photos of somewhere we've never been, ...or of someone we've never met. And (B) there's the photos we've taken ourselves for reference. To capture a moment of flerting light, to retrieve details for future use, to refresh our memory. Where we've made the editorial choices, composed the shot, and experienced the moment.

One of my primary onjectives this painting season is to work primarily on values and very low chroma studies. One thing I want to make is a Mark Carder style color checker that includes the quilters' filters, so I can check values on the fly. So many landscapes fail due to a lack of control over value and chroma. The natural world is much lower-chroma and more contrasting in value than we initially think.
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Old 05-08-2019, 02:08 PM
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Pinguino Pinguino is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Grayscale is a good idea... BUT: Don't just convert RGB to gray, and don't just desaturate. The reason is that the human eye has different sensitivity to the colors. So, be sure that you convert to gray using "luminosity," which is a method that takes such sensitivity into account.

The GIMP program allows you to make the choice when you convert. I'm sure that Photoshop has something similar (but not necessarily the Express version).

And, don't be afraid to choose your own values! Making things lighter or darker than they ordinarily would be, can be an important part of composition. Have a look at the paintings by Caravaggio, who is famous for this. At the opposite extreme, some of the Expressionists liked to have nearly everything well-illuminated. In between, some of the Renaissance painters were obsessed with geometric perspective (newly understood, in those days), and avoided both very dark and very light areas, so as not to draw attention away from the technical composition.

Last edited by Pinguino : 05-08-2019 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 05-09-2019, 06:08 AM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Just for curiosity sake... the convesion from RGB to luminance usually follows (usually because some populatiosn aroudn the world have slightly diffefrent ratios of colro perception)

Luminace = 0.299 * Red + 0.587 * Green + 0.114 * Blue
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Old 05-09-2019, 12:55 PM
DamenFaltor DamenFaltor is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Thank you for your responses, this is helpful. I had NO clue that there was a difference between a desaturated image and an image that was changed via luminosity modifications.

Thank you so much everyone!
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Old 05-09-2019, 02:56 PM
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llawrence llawrence is offline
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Re: Learning Values

You can also switch to Lab mode and isolate the lightness channel.
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Old 05-11-2019, 12:20 PM
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Patrick1 Patrick1 is offline
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Re: Learning Values

I like the idea of monochromatic value exercises using only black, brown, blue, green, red, any single color that is dark enough to give decent value range. It's a good habit to convert a newly-finished artwork to grayscale to check the values. If you got the values right/good, it will look like a good black & white photo. If it's not quite right, you'll learn from it.

Originally Posted by Pinguino
And, don't be afraid to choose your own values! Making things lighter or darker than they ordinarily would be, can be an important part of composition.
This can potentially make it better (and ironically more real-looking) than the reference photo. Similarly, intentionally tweaking contrasts and chroma can make it a far better artwork. Thinking & working like a composer or visual engineer.
Color is the most important element in painting - except for everything else
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Old 05-14-2019, 02:29 AM
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WFMartin WFMartin is offline
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Re: Learning Values

Try this:


"Learning Values" begins with getting them in their correct places on your painting, and it doesn't have to be a guess. There are scientific methods for determining the correct values in a painting, and this article (workshop) helps to explain them.

I believe I made a mathematical error early on in the workshop, but as I recall, I corrected it later in the article.
wfmartin. My Blog "Creative Realism"... http://www.wfmartin.com
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