The lightness or darkness of a color or a neutral grey
is independent from hue and saturation.
in value makes a big difference in how easy a page/picture is to read.
It is independent from hue and saturation.
Contrast in value makes a big difference in how easy a page/picture is to read.
There are countless values between the lightest of lights and the darkest of
grouping of values: (light, medium, dark)
Value can effect the representation of size:
dark object surrounded by light appears larger
light object surrounded by dark appears smaller
Value is simply the artistic term for light and dark.
Value is determined by the relative lightness or darkness of a surface. An area's value is its relative
lightness or darkness in a given context.
Value and color are related. Color, based on wavelengths of light, offers a much broader field of
visual differences and contrasts. A further relationship of value and color is that every color is,
in itself, also simultaneously a certain value.
Janet Fish. After Leslie Left, 1983-84
This term refers to the arrangement of the amount of variation in light and dark, independent of the
When value contrast is minimized and all the values are within a limited range with only small variation,
the result is a restrained, subtle effect. the impression is one of understatement, whether the value
range is limited to lights (high key is a term used often) or darks (low key).
Artemisia Gentileschi's painting shows an extreme contrast of dark and light. This is a Baroque painting,
done in a period when artists purposely accentuated value contrasts to portray exciting themes. The
violent and gory subject receives an aptly emotional visual treatment. The candlelit picture has dramatic,
sudden shadows throughout the scene, achieving an almost theatrical effect.
Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1620,
A valuable use of dark-and-light contrast is to create a focal point or center of attention in a design.
A visual emphasis or "starting point" is often desired. A thematically important character or feature can
be visually empnasized by value contrast.
Whister's painting At the Piano directs the eye immediately to the young girl on the right. Her light dress
stands in bold contrast to the darkness of the space around her, including the piano.
James McNeill Whistler. At the Piano. 1858-59
Edward Hopper's Nighthawks emphasizes the interior of a brightly lit cafe. The sharp white interior contrasts
with the darkness outside. This light then "frames" the several dark figures, who become the focal point of
the painting. The general isolation of these dark spots reinforces the quiet, almost melancholy mood of the
Value and Space
One of the most important uses of gradations of dark and light is to suggest volume or space.
On a flat surface value can be used to impart a three-dimensional quality to shapes. During the
Renaissance the word chiaroscuro was coined to describe the artistic device of using light and dark
to imply depth and volume in a painting or drawing. Chiaroscuro is a combination of the Italian words
for "light" and "dark".
A drawing using only line is effective in showing shapes. By varying the weight of the line, an artist
may imply dimension or solidity, but the effect is subtle. When areas of dark and light are added, we
begin to feel the three-dimensional quality of forms. This is apparent in Michelangelo's Madonna and Child.
The baby has been shaded in dark and light, giving it a feeling of volume and three dimensions, especially
in comparison with the figure of the Madonna.
The Benday Dots printing process, named after illustrator and printer Benjamin Day, is similar to Pointillism. Depending on the effect, color and optical illusion needed, small colored dots are closely-spaced, widely-spaced or overlapping. Magenta dots, for example, are widely-spaced to create pink. 1950s and 1960s pulp comic books used Benday dots in the four process colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to inexpensively create shading and secondary colors such as green, purple, orange and flesh tones.
Benday dots were considered the hallmark of American artist Roy Lichtenstein, who enlarged and exaggerated them in many of his paintings.