Understanding value, or the use of light and dark, is an important factor in creating successful drawings and paintings. Creating a “value scale” of their own was a great way for my middle school students to get the feel for including the full range of values before starting a major drawing project. I created my sample as a fold-out in my sketchbook (above), but I had my students just do theirs on a separate sheet of paper.
- 9×12 white drawing or construction paper
- Prismacolor “Ebony” pencil (or other soft lead drawing pencil)
- Kneaded eraser
- Blending stump
- small piece of scrap paper (about 4″ x 6″ish)
1. Use your ruler to draw a rectangle about 1.5″ x 11″ across your paper. (Or, simply trace around your ruler if measuring creates an obstacle!)
2. Work from left to right (if you’re right-handed) or right to left (if you’re left-handed). Start with the darkest value and work across your paper in the opposite direction, being careful not to drag your hand over your work. (A small piece of scrap paper placed under your hand while drawing will help prevent smearing.)
3. Use the blending stump to create smooth gradations from dark to light, and the kneaded eraser to lift out graphite from any areas that are too dark. Try to make your scale transition from the darkest black you can make to pure white, as gradually and smoothly as possible!
4. Label and sign your finished value scale!
5. You may want to spray finished work with hairspray to protect it from smearing (optional).
For more info on how to draw value scales, see this great post from John at HelloArtsy!