Value is one of the seven elements of art. If you ask me, it is one of the most important elements when it comes to drawing. Value is how we see things. It has little to do with color. Light is reflected off of objects and informs us about the form of the objects that we are seeing.
Therefore, if we are to draw objects the way that we see them, we must fully understand light and more importantly, be able to create the illusion of light in our drawings. How do we create the illusion of light?
The answer lies in our use of value.
First, we need a full range of value in every drawing that we create. This means that we have tints (the lighter values) and shades (the darker values) represented in our artwork. This creates the illusion of a light source.
Secondly, we need to represent the values accurately. Since seeing the accurate value can be a bit tricky, we can use a tool called a value finder. Many art suppliers manufacture value finders for purchase, but you can make your own value finder in just a matter of minutes.
Begin by making a value scale on a small piece of paper. Be sure to include at least 6 values. The more values that you can create, the better. Next, punch holes with a hole puncher next to each value on your value scale. That's it. Use your value scale over a photo to match the values, or hold your value finder up to the subject if you are drawing from life. Using a value finder will ensure that you get a full range of accurate value in your drawings which will lead to better drawings.