Lesson #4 - Tonal Value
Lesson #4 focuses on the 3rd element of design Tonal Value and how it relates to watercolour:
Tonal value refers to the lightness or darkness of a colour as if the colour (or hue) and its intensity (chroma) were taken out. If you make a black and white photocopy of a painting, you can see it in terms of its tonalscale - notice the boundary lines between tones and where you find the greatest contrast. Similar adjacent tones create soft edges and transitions, whereas extreme darks and extreme lights create hard edges with dramatic impact.
Tonal value has even more visual power than colour. By varying the contrasting tonal values in a painting we create a sense of structure (form), depth and distance (aerial perspective) and a balance of abstract patterns and shapes.
Have a look at these samples:
- Light area
- Division line (between light and dark)
- Dark area
- Low light
- Dark shadow accent
- Cast shadow
Newbies Painting Exercise #4
In this painting exercise we practised:
1. Choosing a limited palette - Paynes Grey, Hookers Green, Alizarin Crimson with Ultramarine blue and Lemon yellow as accents.
2. Painting wet-in-wet for the sky and distant misty mountains. We learned to control the blending of wet paint by dragging a damp brush across the wet paint. This wipes off some of the pigment leaving a soft edged transition (more or less where you want it!)
3. Laying in progressively darker areas from background to foreground, blending by adding water for a soft, smooth gradation.
4. Defining overlapping shapes of foreground bushes and painting the trees in behind them for an illusion of depth and distance (aerial perspective)
5. Using ultramarine blue as an accent colour for the foreground snowy shadows.
6. Spattering in a fine spray of white gouache with a toothbrush around the foreground trees for a light, airy snow effect.
And here is the design so you can try it out on your own!
One more note about contrast and a taste for colour:
Example 1. shows mid tones for the mid and background trees with a contrasting intense dark tone for the foreground trees.
Example 2. shows mid tones for the mid and background trees with a contrasting intense chroma or saturation of colour for the foreground trees.