posted by SHELLEY BRUCAR
Value is the relative lightness or darkness of a color, and it is sometimes more important than the actual hue (color). Value gives a work contrast and gradation; it defines form and separates objects. Value sparks interest. If a piece appears dull, you may need to increase the range of values. The value of any color is also relative to the value that lays next to it; the same value may appear dark next to a light color and light next to a darker color.
There a two good ways to determine the value range of a work in progress. You can “desaturate” the image in Photoshop, reducing it to black, white and grays, an easy way to see the lights and darks. Viewing a work while squinting your eyes also helps blur color and define values.
An interesting and informational experiment is to take any color and move from the lightest value to the darkest value you can get.
These images show gradations of blue and red. For both experiments, I started with white and added very small amounts of color several times to produce darker values. The final three strips of color for both red and blue have increasing amounts of black added to produce still darker values. Notice the range available from one color plus white and black.
This kind of experimentation will help you feel more comfortable with your paints, and will show their versatility. Go ahead and play!