Understanding Value Range

Understanding Value Range


Understanding value range is a lesson that will help you develop better artwork. As mentioned in the Introduction lesson you can manipulate the mood & impact of your artwork by adjusting Value.


There are two examples of adjusting tone to create mood; one is more extreme & while the other is very subtle, or quiet. Note how different these paintings look and the mood & feel they project. This is a simple and powerful tool to use in your work and can easily be applied to create atmosphere.

Obviously in ‘example one’ the darks are much darker than ‘version two’. The lighter values are much lighter as well than the second example. Why is this important? Because when you have a broader value range as in ‘example one’ the painting is much more dramatic, or louder.

While in the second example the results are quiet because the value shift isn’t has extreme. This is a soft look to it which can be helpful if that’s what you are trying to convey in your art.

So, when you are planning a painting you need to ask yourself do I want a loud, or subtle painting? Of course this Value shift can be applied in areas of the painting as well. If you want the viewer to look at a particular area you can apply extreme value ranges, or shifts, to make it happen.


  1. Create some simple sketches and try to adjust your values, or range of values, according to what you want to project. Create a loud one and a quiet one to and step back to see how they impact you visually, and emotionally.
  2. Then try placing extreme value changes in a particular area of the painting to see how it adds a focal point.
  3. I think you will agree this can be a very powerful tool for the artist. Ignore at your own peril

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