The Value of Light

In art terms, value refers to the relationship of light to dark.

Taking this burning barn illustration as an example, a drawing goes through these stages: thumbnail (conceiving the idea in small scribble form as seen left and below); developmental sketches (fleshing out and enlarging upon the small thumbnail); research (finding the correct barn type for the era and location); draft sketch (learning exactly how to draw the barn); and value studies.

The drawing at the top of this post is a value study. It is not a final drawing but rather one which explores the relationship between the lights and darks of the image. The challenge is to make white paper appear to be glowing by applying pencil.

Stepping off from here, the image moves ever-closer to the finished stage. This particular drawing will not be a full color one but rather a sepia-toned image.

The finished piece will be done larger than the final reproduction size of about 8 by 9 inches. Black pencil will be applied to a sheet of 14 by 17-inch, bright white Bristol paper, and then digitally toned to a warmer, sepia appearance.

Draft sketch specifying details of the barn's shape and type.