Reminders for Drawing Project 2 due 11/16/16
Always remember and never forget that your second project in ART104: Drawing is due next Wednesday, November 16 at the beginning of class. We will have our critique first thing, so please come on time and prepared, especially since this assignment is worth a big ol’ 10% chunk of your grade. For more on Project 2’s nitty and gritty, please review the guidelines.
If you already read the guidelines (or listened in class) you know that this past Wednesday, November 9, there was a task due related to Project 2, namely submitting a photograph of your initial gray and white block in. Some of you were on it. Others… I don’t know…. Maybe you were so burned out by late-night election drama you forgot. Maybe you have a project-instruction-eating pet with a mission to foil on-time homework submission. Hey, stuff happens. Although you can’t get back the points already lost, you CAN send me a progress-shot-for-advice anytime between now and Wednesday. I’m here to help if you need it.
In that spirit, below is some more information on value-blocking to guide you. FYI: the photographic examples in the step-by-step are from a painting demo I did earlier this year, so it’s not exactly the same as charcoal drawing. However, the basics align.
Value Blocking Basics
What Is Value Blocking?
Value blocking is a method of working from general to specific to build the overall composition of an artwork using distinct shapes of light and dark.
Why Do We Want to Block Values?
Blocking in the overall value scheme is certainly not the only way to begin a two-dimensional artwork, but it’s pretty darn-tootin’ effective. Why? Because you are able to quickly see relationships between parts of your total drawing before you get locked in. Formal elements like value change relative to what’s around them. Example: a light gray looks lighter next to black than it does next to white. Don’t believe me? Check out the the crazy pic below. That really is the same gray in the dots!
Not only does value blocking help you see relative values, but, as stated, it’s a method of working general to specific, and that’s pretty much always a good thing in art. Considering the big picture before focusing on details saves you from the revisions, reworking and regret that often accompany trying to obsessively perfect things a section at a time. Nothing drives you to copious amounts of chocolate faster than realizing you drew the best eyeball in the history of ocular-themed artwork, but you have to get rid of it because you didn’t plan how it would work with the rest of your piece.
How Does Value Blocking Work?
The basic process of value blocking begins by considering your subject in terms of two values: white and a light/middle gray. If you are working from a source such as a still life, landscape, model or photograph, make the decision that every piece of light and shadow you see is either white or gray. If an area is bright, say values 1–3, leave it white. If it is darker, make it gray.
Note: it is absolutely, positively, stick-six-post-its-on-it crucial to see the light and dark areas you’re blocking as distinct shapes. The shadow under an eyebrow, for example, should be considered every bit as real and defined a shape as the eyebrow itself.
Once you have laid out your entire image in white and gray shapes, refine, refine and did I mention refine? Make a second pass adding a third value, usually a darker gray or black to separate values 8–10 from the mid-tones. Refine your shapes as you work. Depending on your project goals, you can then make additional passes, each time extending the range of values.
Because of its relative speed and its ability to help you break down complex forms into manageable shapes, value blocking is an incredibly powerful tool. In fact, I use it all the time, particularly for figure drawing, where capturing essence quickly is crucial.
For more information on the process, please check out the following video tutorial and the step-by-step below:
Step-by-Step Value Blocking for Project 2
- Examine your chosen still life to determine the main masses of light and dark. Use your value scale to help, especially where color confuses the issue. Remember, one of the goals for Project 2 is to help you see the value underlying the colors, so give yourself some serious practice.
- Block in any value that falls between 4–10 using a light middle gray. Remember as you draw to consider each value area as a distinct shape including form highlights and shadows. Double check measurements, angles, plumb bobs and negative shapes as you go, making any refinements that are necessary for a more accurate drawing.
- Step back to compare your initial layer of value blocking to your still life. You can’t always see what’s what up close. Do the value shapes feel accurate? Don’t forget: squinting isn’t just for those of us who forgot our glasses anymore; it can help you see value more easily. Add grays and/or erase back to whites to refine your shapes.
- Block in the darkest values (8–10) with a darker gray. Refine your shapes as you go.
- Step back again to compare.
- Blend in the full range of values using your charcoal to add or darken and your eraser to remove or lighten. Don’t forget to refine, refine, refine!
- Conclude with a good long step back and compare. Turn your drawing upside down or look at it through your phone to make it easier to see if you got things right.
That’s all folks!
P.S. If you voted, bring proof in the form of your voter registration card, “I Voted” sticker, photos from the polls, etc. That’s assuming you want the offered extra credit…