Friday, March 4, 2011

Simpifying Values and Value-Key

I created this post to discuss how an artist can think technically about achieving an intended value key discussed in the previous post.  This method helps to simplify an overwhelming number of values into a more workable structure at early stages of a painting (a digital one in this case). The loose renderings below are quick head studies from my imagination as they might be lit for dramatic and compositional purposes.

I began with this basic head drawing which indicates some of the major planes and proportions. This step provides some structure on which to guide my value decisions.

Here I've used only four values to establish the primary value structure of the entire image.  For this exercise I ignored any differences in edge quality between shapes. In this low-key image values 5,7, and 9 dominate while value 2 acts as a contrasting accent on the light side.

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For this high-key image I used the same drawing and angle of light as a foundation, however, I've used values 1, 2, and 3 as the dominant values and value 6 as an accent in the spots that even in bright sunlight would remain relatively dark. Note that value 6, though used as a "dark" accent, is still in the middle of the scale.  A darker value would appear EXTREMELY dark against such a light composition and appear much less realistic and thus more 2D or "graphic".

Thinking about value in this way also gives the artist clearer choices about where to simplify or otherwise edit out extraneous detail. In the darker study, the variety, detail, and focus happens in the light and the reverse is true for a lighter work.

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