How to See in Value

One of the most important concepts to know and understand as a visual artist is that pictures, scenes and still images are arrangements of value; light, dark and gray shapes. It’s these light, dark and gray shapes that the human mind assembles as a cohesive picture.

Being able to see the world as shapes of value, especially colored shapes and objects, is a master skill to cultivate as a visual artist. It’s important to the artist because in order to compose and arrange shapes in our pictures, we must first see and understand their inherent grayscale value.

The most basic and abstract pattern of dark and light shapes (A) is the first ‘read’ the mind makes. This happens on a visceral, almost subconscious level. As more information is processed, like details and color, the mind can then assemble a more refined and sophisticated image (D). 

How do we train our eyes to see the world in value? There are some very simple strategies we can use when we observe the world around us. The first step is to learn how to deal with color information.

To see these strategies in action, watch the video below or continue reading for the in-depth breakdown.


 
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