Watercolor Painting and Projects.com
Did you know?
       "Value changes within your
        painting helps to give it three
        dimentional form."


Home  Basics and Skills  Watercolor Values  Making a Value Scale
    a display of values shown in a painting

Watercolor Value Scale

  • The five values
  • Color values in a painting
  • Grayscale values in a painting
  • How to make a five-step value scale

Being able to see the five basic values that each of your watercolors can produce, will help you in determining which of those values will work best in your watercolor painting.

Using the Value Scale in a Painting

Color Values

Illustration of a bearded irises painting using the yellow and violet values as a guide in determining it's values

   Value Scale

samples of yellow and violet divided into five values
There are actually three ways you can create value change within your watercolors. The first, by diluting it with water and making several puddles of color each of a different value. The second, with technique, by varying a watercolor's value through softening inside edges. The third, also with technique, by layering color on top of color.

Grayscale Values

Illustration of the same bearded irises painting, with the yellow and violet values, but now all converted to grayscale

   Value Scale

same samples of yellow and violet, now converted to grayscale
Using the same image from above, I have now removed all of the color, and only allowing it to display as a black and white. This helps you see more clearly how the five values were used in the painting.

How to Make a Five-Step Value Scale  -  Tutorial
  First, trace two rows of five squares each on a small piece of scrap watercolor paper. Then choose a tube of yellow paint and a tube of violet paint. The yellow shown here is New Gamboge and the violet is Permanent Violet.

An illustration showing the order in which to paint the five values of yellow and violet
  Step 1.  
  palette showing dark value Mixing your dark value.

Starting at the right-hand side of each row, make a small puddle of each color. The puddles should be thick in consistency containing the least amount of water, but not looking like pure pigment. You want to have the colors at their darkest value. In the project instructions, I have labeled this as a color's dark (dk.) value.
Step 2.
  palette showing light value Mixing your light value.

Now move over to the left-hand side of each row. Take a small brush load of the dark color and make a new puddle, adding enough water to make a light (lt.) value.
Step 3.
  palette showing medium value Mixing your medium value.

Next, move to the middle squares in each row. Make another new puddle by adding a brush load of the light value of each color and a brush load of the dark value to make an approximate medium (med.) value.
You have now established three value ranges for these two colors: a light, a medium and a dark. But quite a few of the colors that you will be mixing for the projects fall somewhere between the light and medium values and the medium and dark values. So let's break the values down further.
Step 4.
  palette showing medium/light value Mixing your Medium/light value.

In a new puddle, mix a brush-load of the light value of each color with a brush load of the medium value and make an approximate light/medium (lt. / med.) value.
Step 5.
  palette showing medium/dark value Mixing your Medium/dark value.

In the final puddle, mix a brush-load of the medium value of each color with a brush-load of the dark value and make an approximate medium/dark  (med./dk.) value.
You have just learned how to establish the five most commonly used values for both colors. Now you will be able to make the appropriate value of any color that the projects call for. When gauging values, make them approximate. A little too dark or a little too light will not make that much difference.

    [  Back to top  ] order projects

Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors © 1997 - 2013
www.watercolorpaintingandprojects.com Copyright © 2013 Dawn McLeod Heim. All Rights Reserved.