With regard to art, the term “value” refers to the darkness or lightness of a particular color, that is, how much light it reflects or absorbs. Lighter colors reflect more light and absorb less, while darker colors reflect less light and absorb more. We see a wide variety of values when we look at the world around us, so if we want to reflect that reality in a painting or drawing, we need to pay close attention to value. Using a full range of values helps us create shadows and highlights as well as motion and depth in a work of art.
Light values are referred to as tints, while dark values are labeled as shades. To create a tint of any color, we add white to it. To create a shade, we add black. Tinting and shading can be very subtle based on how much white or black is added, and this can help increase the range of values in a painting.
Further, brush pressure can also increase or decrease the values in a section of a work. Think about coloring with crayons. The harder we press with the crayons, the darker the color appears. The lighter we press, the lighter the color is. The same applies to brushes. A higher pressure increases the value, while a lighter touch decreases it.
Part of learning to apply value in painting or drawing is learning how to recognize it in the scene to be painted or drawn. Artists must identify the light source, the angle of the light, and the effects of the light on the objects in the scene. They must then use a full range of values to replicate these effects.