Students will break down a portrait into a minimum of 3 equally spaced value tones to represent highlights, midtones, and shadows in a monochromatic tempera painting.
Step 1: Choose an Image
Choose a portrait that displays a wide range of tones. Enlarge the photo to a full page. Adjust to grayscale and/or print to a grayscale printer.
Step 2: Define and Refine the Design
Put your printed image into a plastic sleeve. Using an overhead marker, trace the areas (shapes) that consist of highlights and then shadows. The areas in between will define your midtone.
Make any adjustments necessary to refine and balance your image. Look for large areas of one value or undefined edges. Be sure to close all shapes and add any that the design may call for. (As you will see below, the final image could have used further definition to the ear and some midtone definition to the face).
Step 3: Colour in Tonal Values
Using a pencil (or a pencil crayon) shade in each value to assess the success of the design.
Step 4: Transfer Design and Paint
After creating a paint swatch of equally differentiated values in your sketchbook, choose your background colour to ground out your painting surface and let dry. Using a 1/4 grid, transfer your design to your painting surface using pencil. Finally, paint in your remaining two values and let dry. Remove any visible pencil marks from the final product.
Student Examples: Value Portraits
Good representation of value scale
Accurate placement of highlights, midtones, and shadows
Technical – Drawing
Detailed rendering of image as a whole
Not over simplified or smoothed-out
Technical – Paint
Colour scheme mixed appropriately
Colour is consistent and even throughout
Clean coverage and edges
Neat, Clean, and Complete
Placement on page is appropriate
Pencil lines erased
Clean and tidy