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Tonal Values

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Tonal Value in Painting.

coloured greyscale

Copyright Jacqui Blackman

Tonal values are what make a painting 'talk' not the colour
- no matter how much colour you put in a picture, if the values are not correct, it will make no difference.

These flowers are shown painted on a light background and the same picture showing it's tonal values.
This shows the range of tonal values and how they 'appear' set against the light background. Light to dark and light against dark.

On the grey scale picture, which flowers appear to come forward and which recede?




This greyscale is made up of actual parts of the painting, in ten sections from white through to black. It may be difficult to find the colour by it's tone on the greyscale. Scroll down a little, see the greyscale compared to the dark background............ not sure?
For the coloured version click here


coloured on black greyscale on black

Copyright Jacqui Blackman

Same picture given a dark background and it's tonal value.
This shows the range of tonal values used, set against the dark background and the above greyscale applies to each image, as does the coloured version. 

Try using your hand in front of the screen to block out the coloured version, notice that the colour distracts our eyes from seeing the tone/value.
On the grey picture, which flowers appear to come forward and which recede?



Coloured version.


Visually our eyes will go to the lightest area and the area of greatest contrast.
 The tonal values appear different against the light background when compared with the same values set against the dark background.

Each background seems to make some flowers come forward and others recede, this is due to the tone of the flower against the background, their apparent position is relative to the contrast of the black or white background not the colour. 

If you have trouble picking out tone/value in a coloured picture or view, 'squint' at it.

One of the reasons many artists choose to paint on a neutral or mid value background is to help with getting the tonal value correct, it helps the eye to judge the difference.

All artwork Jacqui Blackman

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