Value Scales

Complete exercises 1 and 2.


Exercise 1 - 10-step value scales


For each medium, begin by lightly drawing a row of 10 adjacent 1- to 1.5-inch squares or rectangles with pencil, like this:

Proceed as follows: The first square, on the left, will be left blank (corresponding to the value white). Beginning with the second square, lay in values one "stop" below white in all of the subsequent squares. Move to the third square, and lay in values for the third and all subsequent squares one "stop" below the second square. Continue your march toward the 10th square, which should eventually be black. There should be a clear value change for each step down the value scale.


Complete this exercise in your sketchbook using each of the following Techniques/materials:


  • Linear shading (2B graphite pencil with hatching and cross-hatching)

  • Blended graphite (3B graphite pencil with “stump” or “tortillion”

  • Stippling (Use a marker and make dots to complete the scale)

  • Compressed charcoal (try with and without use of a stump - note that you will want to use a different stump for graphite than charcoal, in order to avoid polluting subsequent drawings with multiple media)

  • Vine charcoal (try using a stump and/or kneaded eraser to pull back values)


You may need to use an eraser to refine your scales.


Exercise 2 - 5-inch smooth gradients paralleling the 10 step scales


Create a smooth gradient that flows seamlessly from white to black over a 5-inch distance. Naturally, this will include all of the values in your 10 inch scales.


Exercise 3 (Optional) - Relativity of values


Fill a 10” strip with your middle value (the 6th cell from the left) and cut it to .5” x 10”. Paste the strip over the center of your value scale and observe the visual effect caused by juxtaposition with successively lighter and darker values.