How can I tell if the val­ues in my im­age are bal­anced?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation -

Auriel Hard­wick, Eng­land

Dave replies

The co­her­ence of your value or­gan­i­sa­tion and struc­ture can of­ten make or break your im­age. Here’s a quick yet ef­fec­tive tech­nique that you can use in Pho­to­shop to give you a good sense of how your val­ues are work­ing to­gether (I was taught this by artist Euan MacTav­ish).

Open your im­age in Pho­to­shop and con­vert it to four sim­ple lev­els of greyscale: black, white and two medium shades. If your value struc­ture is sound then the im­age should still be recog­nis­able. If the value range is too nar­row, you’ll see large parts of the im­age blend to­gether. This can help you iden­tify the ar­eas that need to be light­ened or dark­ened, which will give your im­age more clar­ity and im­pact.

Try this tech­nique out on some of your favourite artists’ work, and you’ll gain deeper in­sight into one of the rea­sons those images are so ap­peal­ing to you. Think­ing about this struc­ture will be­come sec­ond na­ture, and your work will soon feel stronger and more mem­o­rable to the viewer.

Here I can see that my im­age is slightly heavy on the darks. The skin tones could be lighter, but gen­er­ally I’m on the right track!

In Pho­to­shop, set your im­age mode to Grayscale, then se­lect Ad­just­ments >Pos­terise and move the lev­els slider to 4.

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