Elements and Principals of Design....Value

As an art student, one of the most difficult elements of art and design to master is value. No, not how to price your art work accordingly, but the value of colour.

Technically defined....

Value, or tone, refers to the use of light and dark, shade and highlight, in an artwork. Some people also refer the lightness and darkness in an artwork as tints(light) and shades(dark). Black-and-white photography depends entirely on value to define its subjects. Value is directly related to contrast. Value is the relative degree of lightness in the graphic work of art or painting. Wikipedia

Teminology that you might be more familiar with is monochromatic.

Tinting with white, and shading with a complimentary color {you thought I was going to say black...didn't you?? A tutorial for another day!} is very important to an artist. It changes the depth, contrast and form of a painting and can take a piece from being flat to being amazing.

Visually speaking...

This cream and navy miniture diptych explains value very well. The two tones blend well in areas to create different grades of navy, while the are used in their true tones in other areas to provide the lightest tints and darkest shades.

To not blend the two colors together would make for a very flat painting. Here, there are pockets on the right that seem to fade into the background, whereas on the left the dark shades jump right into the foreground.

While difficult to explain in writing yet easy to show on a canvas, value is one of the most important elements of art and design, as it creates depth, and defines background, middle ground and foreground in a piece of art.