Monday, May 28, 2012

Value Thumbnails 2

Top: pencil, 2012
page 11" x 8.5" (27.94cm x 21.59cm)

Bottom: Black ink, 2012
page 11" x 8.5" (27.94cm x 21.59cm)

Here are a couple pages of thumbnails.
The benefit of thumbnails is you can immediately see the stronger designs, throwing out or improving upon the weaker ones.

The idea is to use only 3 values and focus on the design or arrangement of lights and darks as a whole.
A dark, a mid tone and the white of the paper usually, although sometimes I will use a fourth value by indicating the next value from white.

A couple of the pencils have 4 values which is ok provided you don't lose sight of the original purpose of doing them. In this case it was to identify where the brightest lights would be, the sunlit sides of the white tanks in the third row down and bottom left last row. In this way I am refining the lights a bit more and can be sure the shapes within the lights work against the compositional whole.

The bottom nocturnes, painted with a brush in ink, force you to work very thoughtfully and direct since ink goes down dark and permanently. I like doing these for that reason, it exercises a different set of (mental) muscles. The challenge is to not over think them and lose the freshness.

Using a brush means I can lay down wide swaths of blacks quickly and not get too fussy. Perfect for doing nocturnes.181

Click on images for larger view.


  1. Wow, your way of sketching is very helpful. They look great. I make line drawings and when I get home they don't provide me with enough info. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nora,
    Thanks for your comment and following.

    It's perfectly OK to make sketches/thumbnails in line, artists do it all the time, me too. Just make notations to provide that info for later.
    Handwritten notes, an arrow (conical arrow) to show direction of light.
    Anything that helps.

    Then you can do value thumbnails/studies any time in preparation of a finished piece.

  3. Thank you David! I am in a structured class this summer each Sat and Sun (on top of my M-F regular job). The Sat Sun class is all about how light affects objects (20 hr shading etc.) I struggle with the comping/value study so your post is especially helpful for me to see. Thank you and more please! Susan Hogan Girard

    1. Hi Susan,
      Great to hear about your studies. It's all necessary fundamentals. You have to know how light works on objects.

      I have a page of black and white comps done on my iPad, I'll post it soon.
      Keep painting...