Values in Graphite {Learning the Art Basics}

Values in Graphite

This is the second post in Lillie’s series about learning the basics in art.  Lesson two saw Lil investigating values in graphite.

Values in Graphite: Value Scales

Values describes how light or dark a colour is in a picture.  It is probably the most important thing an artist needs to understand.  Values allow the artist to change a 2D picture into a 3D picture.  This creates form and spacial illusions for a far more realistic looking picture.  It was the values in a grey scale we were looking at this week.

Making a Value Chart

The first thing Lillie did was to create her own chart of values using a range of hard and soft pencils.  This demonstrated to her just how many values or possibilities there are between white and black:

Values in Graphite

Values in Graphite: Practicing Using Values

We found a useful colouring in sheet which contained four different values or shades of grey.  Lillie had no idea what the picture was until about half way through the exercise when suddenly a tiger jumped out at her!

Part of her lesson was to learn to draw and shade a variety of universal shapes.  First she photocopied the shapes and learnt to shade them in.  These are found at the bottom of this picture:

Values in Graphite

Next, she drew them herself and shaded them in as before:

Values in Graphite

Values in Graphite: Exploring Mark Making

As B5 had been learning all about mark making in her art curriculum, we decided to explore mark making alongside values.  This would give Lillie a few more tools for her to use when sketching.  Again she created a values chart for various marks.  And then used these marks to shade some of the universal shapes:

Values in Graphite

Exploring Beatrix Potter’s Use of Values and Mark Making

We have been studying Beatrix Potter during February.  So Lillie chose one of her sketches which would help her in her school work as well as in this lesson.  She picked a few smaller areas to copy and learn from:

Values in Graphite

Values in Graphite: Exploring Values in a Self Portrait

In the last lesson, Lillie had completed an upside down painting of a selfie she had taken with her phone:


In this lesson she used the same photo to create a pencil drawing of herself.  She used a black and white version of the same photo.  She used the upside down technique to draw it.  And then her knowledge of shading to complete it:

Values in Graphite

Lillie found this really hard and yet we could both see an improvement in her use of light and dark, which was what this lesson was all about.

My Own Attempt

Last week I had also attempted to draw the same photo, and was really pleased by how it turned out, although we had all agreed the lips weren’t quite right!  Here is my drawing from the last lesson:

Values in Graphite

What I liked most about my drawing was that it definitely showed some likeness to my daughter.  This week I attempted the same picture using the black and white photo.  Here are the two pictures together for contrast:

Values in Graphite

This took me ages, as in days, night after night, rubbing out and tweaking.  I was really pleased with my use of shading.  And I really did feel like I had learnt a lot about the use of values in sketches.  However, I did not and could not get it to look like Lillie!  So whilst I think the second drawing is probably a better drawing EVERYONE preferred my first drawing because it did actually look like Lillie 🙂

For me though, I was quietly chuffed by the use of shading rather than sketching to create the nose and mouth (which was what I had struggled to get right in the first drawing):


However, try as I might I couldn’t get the eyes right, and as you can see, I eventually had to give up on account of my pencil going through the paper (which I had rubbed out so much I had erased the paper as well as the pencil on top of it!):artclaire-2

One of the lessons to come (maybe fifth or sixth?) is on self portraits, which I think will really help both Lillie and I with proportions and placements.

Exploring Mark Making with Vincent Van Gogh

The very last thing Lillie did was to study one of Van Gogh’s self portrait sketches, focusing on his use of hatching, cross-hatching and stippling:

Values in Graphite

Lillie was very unimpressed when I told her to redo her first attempt.  I just knew she could do better, and suggested she use the upside down method of drawing as she was struggling to get the shape of the eyes quite right.  In the end she said she was really glad I had insisted because she was so pleased by her second attempt!  So was I!  I knew she could do it, and she did 🙂

We then created a pdf with all her art for that lesson included and sent it off for marking.  We just heard back that she achieved 90%, which of course she is very, very happy with 🙂

For all my art posts click on the link below:

Art Page


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.