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Element of Design: Value

The term value is used in the language of Art to refer to the "value" of light. The more light, the higher the the value. White is the highest or lightest value.On the other hand , black is the lowest or darkest value. Colors have value as well. Yellow for example has a relatively high (light) value, while violet has a relatively low value (dark).

So why is value important?

Value is very important to drawing and painting because value changes are what creates contrast. Contrast is needed to help us see and understand a two dimensional work of art. For example, if the was no value contrast between the words on this page and the background; you would have difficulty reading what is here.

Value contrasts can also create interest in art works. Our eyes tend to be drawn to areas of hign contrast, so artists use this to show us what they think is important.

Value Scales

Values scales are charts that demonstrate the changing values of a tone. A typical value scale has incremental steps running from dark to light or vice versa. A scale may also be a continous gradient of tones; where the change is blended and tonal steps are not visible. Here are example of both types.


value scales

to line unit  


to shape unit  
to value unit
to space unit  
to color unit
to texture unit  
to form unit