How can I cre­ate a sim­pler, stronger value struc­ture in my im­ages?

Jonty Hatt, US

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation Artist Q & A -

An­swer

Dave replies

Clear value or­gan­i­sa­tion can lend real im­pact to your work, mak­ing it both eas­ier for the viewer to take in and more mem­o­rable. One pow­er­ful tech­nique for achiev­ing this is to group ar­eas of close val­ues to­gether into larger, sim­pler value shapes. James Gur­ney coined the term “shape weld­ing” to de­scribe this method. Our own vi­sion of­ten works this way, es­pe­cially in very bright or dim light when we see only the greater con­trasts. The idea is sim­ple: paint as much as you can in the same value! If two shapes near each other are al­most the same value, then make them the same and let them merge into a larger shape.

These larger shapes will cre­ate your sim­pler struc­ture, and then you can eas­ily use bits of shadow in the light and high­light in the shad­ows to sug­gest form. If you’re un­sure what val­ues to use within the var­i­ous ar­eas, try mak­ing your high­lights in shadow the same value as a shadow tone in your light ar­eas, and that should pro­vide you with the key.

As you ad­vance with this method, you’ll find that you can use less de­tail to suc­cess­fully sug­gest the var­i­ous el­e­ments in your im­age. One can say so much with just the edges of the shapes and the sug­ges­tion of form within, and the over­all sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of value will in­stantly make your paint­ing more co­he­sive.

The shadow ar­eas of the knight and the pine tree flow to­gether, and the brightly lit clouds be­hind the fig­ure pro­vide con­trast and fo­cus. Pos­ter­is­ing the im­age shows me that the im­age is still recog­nis­able be­cause of the ba­sic value ar­range­ment of larger shapes.

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