TheVirtualInstructor.com Forum

How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value

Kdeutschmann

  • *
  • 20
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« on: June 18, 2014, 02:43:02 AM »
Hello all,

I'd love to hear how others deal with and have learned how to plan the use of value in your drawings.

One area I am learning and working on, and absolutely love, is using value to establish form and highlights, etc.  I am struggling however, when I start a drawing (graphite or coloured pencil) as I don't know the best way in deciding how to establish the value.  For example, is better to draw out shapes of value (tends to be choppy and not great flow/smooth transition however) beforehand, or is it better to draw your value lightly and darken as you go along?  Matt's tutorials have shown both techniques I guess.

My drawing of my dog shows how I struggle with this.  If you have seen Matt's tutorial of the little white dog with hair that comes over one eye, that is a perfect example of how planning your value is so important. Obviously erasing isn't the best technique.  I'd like to develop this value planning skill much more as I believe it is a key to my drawing being more realistic which I love to do.

Thanks.  Looking forward to hearing from anyone that has some ideas how to improve in this area.
Kirk

  • Matt
  • *****
  • 189
  • +15/-1
  • I draw.
    • View Profile
    • TheVirtualInstructor.com
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 01:45:59 PM »
Hi Kirk!  Thanks for your questions.  I'll do my best to offer a few suggestions.

Your questions seem to center around value and how to handle it.  It can be tricky when when you're dealing with a subject that is hairy like a dog.  (Maybe I should say it can get "hairy" when you're dealing with a subject that's hairy.)  You see,  hair can have areas of abrupt changes in value as well as areas where smooth transitions occur.  For this reason, you have to make no assumptions about how to handle the hair, because it may need to be handled differently in different areas.   

My first suggestion would simply be to work slower, concentrating on smaller areas at a time.  Take the hair, one chunk at a time instead of trying to develop the entire drawing at the same time.  The grid technique can help with this one.  (The module on drawing from photos in The Secrets to Drawing course addresses this technique and it also includes a demonstration on drawing animal fur.)  Here's a link to that one, if you haven't already checked it out...
http://thevirtualinstructor.com/members/the-secrets-to-drawing-drawing-from-photos/

In your drawing, you are doing a pretty nice job of creating a full range of value.  I included a little value scale for comparison.  I think what you are  having the most struggles with are the edges of value shapes, creating a defined light source, and texture.  So let's take a look at a few strategies...

In a few areas, your edges of value shapes end too abruptly.  I'm speaking specifically about the tail area.  There's too much contrast here.  Another thing to pay attention to is creating a full range of value, even in these areas.  It looks as though there are just a couple of values in this area.  There is possible a smoother transition from dark to light in these areas in your reference.  This happens in a couple of areas in your drawing.

Your light source could be a bit more defined in your drawing as well.  One side of the dog should overall be a little lighter or darker than the other side.  This may be a subtle difference, but still a difference. 

Texture is another issue.  It looks as though you are using a blending tool to move the graphite.  That's great!  But be wary, a blending tool changes the texture the graphite makes on the surface and if it is used too aggressively, it can ruin the range of texture that you need in your drawing. Maybe try changing the pressure that is placed on the pencil a little more often and use the blending tool a little less. 

I hope this helps out a little.  I've also included an image here with a couple more tidbits.

-Matt
   

Kdeutschmann

  • *
  • 20
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 03:33:50 PM »
Matt,

Thank you for the specific suggestions.  Those are exactly the areas I need to develop (I just didn't know it!).  Also, I realized, that I need to use white space intentionally rather than just use lighter areas.  All my drawings to date are like this, and I can see the "value" in doing this (pun intended).

Yes, I did see the video on using photos (I did the grid technique with the dog picture).  Great video!

I will use your suggestions in my next drawings and share them with you.  I plan on doing more of my dog so will have lots of practice.

I am loving your site, and am amazed you have the time to have an awesome site (including giving quick, specific, and lengthy feedback).  How exactly can you manage the site, do your own art work, have a family, and be a teacher (I am a middle school VP, and know the hours teachers put in)?

Thanks again and talk soon.

Kirk

Kdeutschmann

  • *
  • 20
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2014, 02:59:12 AM »
Matt,

I've completed another drawing of my dog and used your feedback you gave me.  I think I've shown some improvements in a few areas, although I must say hair is tough.

Any feedback again would be so appreciated and valuable.

Thanks

Kirk
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 03:52:04 PM by Kdeutschmann »

  • Matt
  • *****
  • 189
  • +15/-1
  • I draw.
    • View Profile
    • TheVirtualInstructor.com
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2014, 09:09:20 PM »
Hi Kirk,

Much better control of the medium in areas! 

This image would probably work a little better with more information about what the dog is standing on.  In the photo, the dog is in a car seat.  A little info about this surface will make the dog look less like it is "floating". 

One more suggestion would be to break your drawing down even further, and try to spend more time on each section of the grid.  Look and work at about half the speed that you normally would.  Try to spend as much time looking as you do recording the information on the paper.  Take this approach with your next drawing and you may just see dramatic improvement.

Thanks,
Matt

Kdeutschmann

  • *
  • 20
  • +1/-0
    • View Profile
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2014, 04:09:54 PM »
Matt,

Thanks again for the feedback.

I will take your suggestions and work on those parts as I continue to improve, especially taking more time to complete the drawings.

Take care.

Kirk

Daniel Y

  • *
  • 24
  • +3/-0
    • View Profile
Re: How to plan drawing for powerful use of Value
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2017, 01:35:21 PM »
I realize this is an old thread. but definitely not an old topic. This is one I have spent a lto fo time with. and probably made the most progress on in the past year. IT is also the single greatest reason I almost gave up drawing nearly a year ago. My first step in "Planning" my tonal values is to decide what is the darkest area of my subject and what is the lightest. seldom is lightest white or darkest black. In a general sense everything else and I mean everything is going to fall between those two values. Okay now reset your thinking just a bit. In order to have contour tone must always be ever changing. think of shading eh surface of a smooth ball. in order to create smooth continuous curve. the value must always be changing. This is true wether it is a cheek bone. chin curve of a lip shape of a nose. or even the contours of hair. Yes hair has contour. I actually like that you use a subject with massive hair. because if you can get it in regard to hair. you can get it for anything. But hair has groups. or locks and if you approach it as each lock is it's own form or shape. and deal with it accordingly. shaping it with that ever changing tone. you will be well on your way. Here is where tone and planning part ways. it is more of a control tone according to what is necessary. yet still staying within that range of darkest and lightest. Each form in the hair then has it's own details. indications of individual hairs and smaller forms within the larger one. so you build form within a form. lets say a rough surfaced ball rather than a smooth one. It is probably clearer to describe it as texture. IN regard to hair this requires many many layers of varying tone. Draw the lock of hairs shape. then add dark lines and some highlights. I then use a brush to sweep over th entire thing. this somewhat lightens the dark areas but more importantly darkens the highlights. I then repeat. making more and varied dark lines. and again erase out some highlights. brush again. I will do this many many times. each times developing a new layer to the overall depth of the lock of hair. Depth in a drawing is pretty much created by tonal change only. period. there are some other things that will indicate depth. but nothing creates it like continuous graduation of tone. anything that is the same tone is flat. including hair. Practice this by drawing hair running in one direction  with whispy strands crossing it in another. continue doing this until you actually see those crossing hairs pass over and there is a distance between them and the hairs below. light brings things forward. dark pushes them back. Subtle indications of cast shadow can help and everything gets darker as it does to where there is less light. so the hairs going under if they are slightly darker right as they pas under also helps create this illusion that it is going under. The hair leading into the eyes sockets. must also be shaded to indicate the curve into a pocket. Depths of the ears. everything leading up to those depths must agree that it is heading toward a pit. You cannot just suddenly stop drawing hair and draw the dark area of the ear. Btu as far as I am concerned there is no real planning ahead for range of tone. there is the use of tone in the process of drawing. It is a bit like asking. what is your plan for the use of the pencil. well I plan to draw with it. and in the process I may use many many methods of doing so. But Tone, contrast and the like is a fascinating subject to meddle in. and can keep you quite busy with discovery for a very long time. It has a magical and illusionary quality to it.