Interview with Liiga Smilshkalne
News for April
Using Watercolor Pencils in a Finished Piece
Value in Illustration
Value in IllustrationAsk an Artist
by Annie Rodrigue
This month again, I bring up a problem I have been tackling for a while with my work without much success until now: values in an illustration. For those of you who are not too sure what value is, it concerns the amount of black a color contains. The blacker a color is, the darker it is on the value scale. The whiter a color is, the lighter it is on that same scale.
Now what often happened to me is that I wouldn't sit down to actually analyse if the values in my colors were varied enough or not. It would turn out to be so even on the value scale that nothing really stood out in my work. Characters were hard to read. They would get lost in the background.
This is one example:
See how the lemurs get lost because of the water and the stone man? We have a hard time noticing their silhouette because the brown of their fur has a similar value to that blue-gray. The stone man himself covers most of the illustration making 70% of the drawing of an even value without any definition whatsoever. I've come to notice that the way I use watercolor makes my problem with values even more likely to happen as it is very difficult for me to get very dark colors. I have found though that when I work with a monochromatic palette, this is much less likely to happen.
But it doesn't solve the problem overall, does it?
How can value change the way we read an illustration? Here is a great example of how modifying values on elements of a scene can allow you to read it differently. It is the same image, with 3 simples elements. Each version will have different values on each element. How does your eye move in each example?
The first thing you might notice is how light seems to come from different sources in each examples. It feels like we have two days scenes and one night scene. Also, tension is not the same in each version. Don't some of them feel more dramatic than others? It is the same layout after all. So this was all conveyed with values.
An important element to notice also is how each example helps read the silhouette of the character that is presented. Because the character is well defined, it helps us understand what he/she is doing in the scene. Think of it as a frame, but in this case it's a frame created because of difference in value. Of course, we use the example of a character here, but it can be applied to anything you want the viewer to pay close attention to.
These are just three possibilities out of many. You could come up with other results just by playing with values of each element again!
To end this article on a great note, I would invite you all to visit this wonderful artist's blog: Kali Draws Kali Ciesemier is a great illustrator with a coloring technique that is simply solid and right on the dot. If you go browse her blog, you will also notice that she sometimes shares her grayscale studies. This is pretty much how I started to get interested with values in the first place. You will notice how often there isn't much shading (sometimes none at all) and values are often what helps us read her work. Worth studying for hours! Go take a look!
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