|The three mug images are photos I took of a simple still life, and the rabbit is from Pixabay. The value scale is a tool by artist and instructor Dianne Mize, who I discovered while researching Notans (available for free download).|
Today I took a few steps back and did some value mapping as described by Carol Marine in her book Daily Painting (see my review of Daily Painting for more about this awesome book). I printed out a few greyscale images and drew the value zones directly on them. She suggests saving white for highlights only, and giving them a value of zero. That left me with four main values (five with the highlights) to map onto the photos.
One thing I love about this technique is that it helps me get a more concrete view of the relative values in the subject. Once I get a handle on those, it’s up to me to decide what four values to use in a piece — depending on what mood and design composition I want to achieve. I’m excited to try this exercise on experimenting with how many values you choose to put in light and how many in dark. It looks like a really cool way to see how these decisions change the overall tone of the piece.
This is fitting in nicely with what I was recently reading in Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis. He has a section that explains the approach Howard Pyle used for defining light and shadow, and how so many new artists exaggerate the halftones when they’d be better off pushing more of those areas into light or shadow. And that the ability to analyze and simplify these areas of light and shadow push work into a new level. I’m not yet familiar with Pyle’s work, but what I’m reading in Creative Illustration is really resonating with me, and Loomis’ enthusiasm and respect for Pyle has me nodding my head at this concept.
Next I need to do this value mapping exercise with color photos.