The importance of tonal values

We live in a three dimensional world and we perceive it that way thanks to the differences in light and dark. Everything you see has a tonal value on a scale from black to white.

Tonal values

Each color has it’s own tonal value. Some colors are light, some colors are dark.

Each color has a value of its own

Objects (and therefore colors) can have lighter parts and shadow parts, due to lighting conditions. Objects blocking light can also cast shadows on other objects.

Colors get darker in shadows

Tonal values are the most important aspect in drawings and paintings. When you’re able to reproduce the correct tonal values, you’ll get convincing results.

When your tonal values are good, it even doesn’t matter if your colors are exactly right. You can either paint in a strict or loose style, if the values are right, your painting looks right.

That being said, judging tonal values is also the most difficult part of painting and drawing. Our brain easily gets tricked.

For instance: when we see a lighter part in a large dark area, chances are that we misjudge the lighter part and we tend to paint it too light.

The light parts in the dark area are actually quite dark.

In the video below I’ll show you a valuable tonal value exercise!

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