The Secrets to Drawing: Value

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Lesson Discussion

    • Hi Kari,

      You can change pencils, if you like. The pencil that I am using allows me to make darker marks with more pressure, while retaining the ability to make lighter marks with less pressure. It’s about the same as a “4B” pencil. Some people find it difficult to adjust pressure. In this case, harder pencils (“H”) pencils can be used for lighter values.

  1. Matt, it has been such a beautiful experience learning from you. Thank you for this course and wanted to tell you that you are a wonderful teacher. Learning all about drawing has become so easy now. Glad I joined this course.

  2. Matt I am enjoying this course so much. I am also enrolled in another online art course but I like yours so much more. Your method of presenting a topic makes the subject easy to understand and makes me look forward to what’s next. Terrific course!

    • Hi Scott!

      The simple answer is now. You will build on the concepts that you learn as you go. So you have the knowledge from this module, apply it to what you learn in the next – and so on.

  3. That is my problem too….I can make the transitions smooth using a stump,but I am having trouble mastering just using the pencil and pressure…

    • Hi Connie,

      The background is a little smoother than just straight lines. The strokes are pulled downward, but the goal is to create a smoother application.

  4. For some reason I am struggling drawing the egg. Any tips would be appreciated. I am struggling with the shading part. I am using the 4B but am struggling also with the cast shadow. My egg shape looks funny and the cast shadow does not appear realistic.

  5. Although I have very fast internet speed I am finding that the video keeps on pausing … anything I can do to help this, all other windows on computer are shut!

  6. I am previewing these modules and will go back to do the studio work. I am still in my 7 day exploration before committing but I have to say now that you are an exceptional teacher. Prior to my registration I observed a lot of the free stuff and you answered questions as I was framing them in my mind. You have a sharp take on the student and the learning process. I am grateful for this affordable opportunity to go back to the beginning and move forward with greater understanding and more of a focus (than my student years) on learning to see. Thank you for sharing your talent and skills.

  7. matt,
    i don’t know what you mean to “use the value scale in the egg drawing”…..i see it on the bottom left.
    1. do i make a sm.separate strip with 9 values and place that against my drawing?
    2. or do i use the one on the left corner of your egg?

    • I have a lot of value scales but what I did for this egg drawing was to make a value scale of 9 graduations, using my Generals 555 pencil, right on the drawing paper. Also, I don’t know if Matt recommends this but, as I am struggling with confusion when warm & cool grays are involved, I put the egg reference on grayscale in Photoshop (you can print out reference on copier also). If you have a copier version find and number the values right on that reference copy as it correlates to the value scale on your drawing paper with the Generals 555 (or 6B pencil). You don’t have to mess with the cool/warm variables between the actual photo reference & your pencil gray scale. I imagine that Matt does expect us to be able to navigate values more dynamically, eventually. But this neutralizing the values between the pencil gray & reference gray helped me to get thru the initially quite difficult exercise. I also found Matts “Ten quick tips on drawing” (click on Fundamentals) good practice. Try drawing out the circle & value contours and the 4H to 6B scale.

    • I have an issue with smoothly going from one value to the next, how do I make a smooth transition and I see a reflection light in the cast shadows, are we supposed to be just doing the tones of the value chart? If we are, I am only seeing the “tints” not the shades

  8. In every episode Shpuldi draw the same picture that You draw Or take any picture and draw it at the end of e episode because I’m not sure if I should draw or not

  9. Matt, I never thought it would be so hard to draw and egg and get the values true to “form” …have drawn the egg in two positions so far. I think I will do a few more of these egg drawings before moving on the next module. I love the way you teach Matt, it really helps me understand, thank you so much.

  10. Hi Matt! I just started your drawing course. I really enjoy it! Thank you very much for sharing such valuable wisdoms and knowledge with us!
    When I saw you drawing with a pencil on the videos, I noticed that the pinky side of your right hand looks like up in the air, not touching on the paper most of the time. Is it so? When I draw, I always place the pinky side of my left hand (I’m lefty and hold a pencil with my left hand) on the paper to stabilize my hand to control the drawing strokes… Is it good idea to get used to not-touching the paper with the drawing hand so that I can gain a good control without relying on the stability that comes from anchoring the pinky side of my hand on the paper? Please advise. Thank you very much.

    • Hi Yumi,

      To be honest, I’m not really thinking about what my fingers are doing. I may use my pinky finger to stabilize the marks without thinking about it.

  11. Hi Matt,
    I’m so grateful for this series. It’s helping me understand the nuts and bolts behind the artistic expressions I want to create.

    I have a couple questions. Firstly, I noticed your hand is right in line with the paper, and you don’t rotate your arm or the paper. I find that my hand wants to be all over the table when I draw — rotating the paper, my arm, my head… Is there any reason to do it one way over the other?

    Secondly, do you think I need to master each module before moving on to the next? I’ve drawn that darn egg so many times and am convinced I’m not going to do it very well for a long time (if ever!). How do you recommend moving through the classes, and how do I evaluate progress? (Maybe you have a page somewhere that explains this and I’ve missed it.)

    Thanks so much,
    Libby Unwin

  12. Hi, That was very clear and squinting really works:) Thank you. I am using a 4B Derwent pencil, I was dulled before I started, but it still looked streaky… Is the pencil too hard, was I pressing too much, both or do you smooth it out in the end? I ended up holding the pencil almost parallel to the drawing surface, using most of the tips surface and it came out much smoother. Is that still OK as long as the result looks good?Much appreciated.

  13. Really challenged by the egg! We mostly have brown eggs in UK! Excuses. Think I’ll come back to the egg in the morning. Decided to look to the one point perspective which couldn’t be a more different exercise. What a teacher you are Matt – but please help me draw the egg better!

  14. Good grief this was difficult. Dark Souls boss right from the get go. I suspect this is one I’ll have to return to many times over the coming year before I get it right.

  15. I usually draw along with the video, but I’m going to draw the egg later. Looked too difficult to do and watch the video at the same time. Also I have some problems with the casting shadows. So I’ll have to see them in front of me. Thx for these lessons. I feel that they have improved my art already and have given me more confidence!

  16. Matt, I stumbled across your website by accident, and I am so glad I did. As a retired teacher, I appreciate how your teaching methods/style make me look forward to each lesson. That said, this egg drawing exercise is pure frustration. I’ve done three eggs, but each looks less realistic than the last. I’ve always avoided shading my drawings because I found it difficult to master; now I’m regretting not having practiced it more. I’ll keep reviewing and practicing, but is it necessary to get the concept down before moving on to then next lesson? Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  17. Thank you for these great lessons. They sure reduce the stress of the current times. I have a question about adding value. When I look at all your pictures, the contour lines are not so obvious (I mean they don’t look like lines) but when I add value, the contour lines used to do the hatching always seem to look like lines! I tried using a less sharp pencil and it was better but still didn’t create value very satisfactorily. I’d like to believe my pencils aren’t good but I guess that its a bad carpenter who…Anyway, at this point, I cannot go out and get better pencils so would appreciate any tips or suggestions.

  18. WOW! Love this one. I am loving this course and it has rejuvenated my passion for art. Thanks, Matt, for the great video lessons. You are a great teacher. How much time would you say you spent on this excercise?

  19. just joined your community but followed for a while on you tube, especially love get sketchy. Tried this what a great exercise though i think it will take some practice for a little while before i move on. Is there anywhere i can upload my egg for critique?

  20. Hi,
    I’m new to this forum.. I like it so far. I find it difficult to shade and apply value. I like all the art mediums, oil paint, water color, graphite, charcoal. I’m
    Excited to get a solid foundations on the fundamentals of drawing. Thanks Matt

  21. I had a very hard time with the egg. Do you recommend doing the egg over and over until I understand the principles and get the egg right or continue on and come back to it later

  22. This is a good lesson, but challenging. I am glad I read the comments above to realize, nope, it is not just me. I found the earlier comments about B versus H pencils also helpful but still struggling with visible lines as opposed to the soft effect in the video.

    “Seeing” value in a color photo is much harder than seeing it in a black and white photo.

  23. The egg part of the lesson wasn’t much of a lesson, sorry. Of course, any relatively able-bodied observer can see that the extent of light and shadow differs in different areas of the egg, and the first part is to establish one’s own way of expressing the 5-6-7 or however many value levels. We can do this by varying hardness/softness of pencils, as well as levels of pressure on the pencil. But then comes the part for which I actually needed the lesson: giving ballparks to determine how different levels are distributed on a nontrivial curved surface (egg). Hearing the instructor say that I have to practice seeing is no help at all, I know this free of charge, if you know what I mean. What I need the instructor’s expertise for is to indicate to me approximately the areas of the egg where different values are located, especially with more than one light source present – and then, of course, I’ve got to try to express these values in drawing the egg a good few times and see what makes the different attempts look more or less realistic, so I can repeat that with other objects.

  24. For the “dual light” egg, the weak light source seems to come from lower right side instead of upper right side (as indicated in the picture), because the second highlight area lies at the lower edge of egg. Am I right?

  25. This is a wonderful course!
    I have issues with my drawings smearing as I work on them. Is this why you used the paper towel during the egg exercise? Thank you!

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