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November 9, 2012


Replies: 6

Having Light Value AND Dull Intensity???

Besulalea Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist

My problem is that I cannot understand how a color can have a light value AND a dark intensity.

Here is an image of what Iím talking about. My art teacher let me borrow this book called Colors by Betty Edwards and these scales come from it:
(Link in case thumb image doesn't work:) [link]

I see the hue as a dull purple and a dark value, but this example says itís a light value, and I donít understand why since the dull purple on the intensity scale is on the same level spot as the dark on the value scale.

Iíve been having this problem in my painting class; my teacher keeps on telling me to Ďkeep looking at it and itíll click one dayí and is providing me with NO guidance or tips!! I have been working solo and practicing but it has come to the point when I need some words of wisdom from somebody.

Thank you for taking time to read my problem!!

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Devious Comments

WilWhalen Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Your wording is not really very clear, so I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for. Lets see if I am even answering the right question:

The first scale you have is a saturation scale - that defines how much hue there is as compared to a color neutral shade ( black, white or gray).

The second is a 'brightness' scale. This is how bright that neutral shade present in your color is. Generally this is expressed as a percentage, ala a 40% gray. A 40% gray would be 40% black and 60% white.

The issue it seems you're running into is color relativity*. Some colors just appear brighter or darker than others, while technically containing the same amounts of brightness and saturation. Here's a handy dandy thing I just whipped up:

Notice how the 4th hue down appears the be darker than the others at the same level of brightness, and yet when the saturation is taken away it is seen to be exactly the same shade. That's color relativity!

And it's a fucking asshole.

Essentially, your teacher is right. You practice painting things (from reference!), color check them against your references (this is really important to learning color theory and observational drawing/painting skills, so don't skimp on it) and then you just slowly figure it out. Don't color pick from your reference - you won't learn anything - eyeball it and keep trying to pinpoint the color until you find it. This is as much about training your eye to 'see' color correctly as it is about anything. The rules are not concrete, which makes them very hard to learn. Work with the intent of learning, don't just fall asleep at the wheel and think that enough studies will get you there somehow. Be active in your questioning while you paint. Ask yourself why to everything you see and do.

This is a big reason a lot of people will convert paintings to gray scale periodically while painting a piece - it can be hard to assess your value scales in a painting when it is in color.

If you paint in Photoshop, do yourself a favor and switch over to the HSB swatches. It's incredibly intuitive for painters to use, and learn from. You can see as you mix colors where all your hue, saturation and value tickers are. Wheeeee

Hope that helps. If you need anything explained further or clarified, I'll try to do my best.

*Color relativity may or may not be a term I'm using incorrectly to describe what I'm talking about. The point I'm trying to make with it is that different hues react to brightness/saturation changes differently.
MichaelMetcalf Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012
three things might be contributing to the confusion:
1) The illustration doesn't seem to be an accurate representation of the concept of color intensity (maybe a bad scan of the original image)

2)instead of using "light and dark" for both scales try using "high and low intensity / light and dark value"

3)The fact that the two scales are displayed side by side with the same number of segments suggests that a color should occupy the same slot in both scales, but they are measurements of two separate attributes of a color, sort of the same way that height and width are separate attributes of an object.
(objects that are very low on the height scale are not necessarily low on the width scale)
MichaelMetcalf Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012
Here is how I think the chart should look: showing brightness as a scale from full color to complete desaturation (gray) and value from light to dark. All segments of the brightness scale in this example have the same value.

and here is another way to show the two measurements in one graphic:
Vineris Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Intensity = saturation or how gray the colour is. Value is how light or dark the colour is. A colour that is light in value and dull in intensity would be a pale grayish purple.

The book might be wrong in this exact diagram. People do make mistakes in print sometimes. Also, I wouldn't pay too much attention to where a colour is on a scale because... well... you can make scales any way you like. It's pretty clear that the lightest purple is not the same value as the white so already the scales aren't exact copies of one another. Trust your eyes. If you cover up everything but the two squares you're comparing, what do you SEE?

It's important to read more than one book just so you can compare different information to see what makes the most sense.

"my teacher keeps on telling me to ‘keep looking at it and it’ll click one day’ and is providing me with NO guidance or tips!!"

Unfortunately many art teachers are kinda useless. Don't just keep looking at it, find other resources that explain colour in different ways.
Aki-rain Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Student General Artist
I'm just getting started on color theory, too. XD Let's see if I can offer some help:

I think that the example says that it's a light value, because on the gray scale, it's a comparatively light gray, and not very close to black. If I use my eye-dropper tool to test out the square on Photoshop, the color comes up as a purple that is very grayish, but still far from black (like this; this color-picking square is not very accurate in terms of color theory, but it still shows that the purple is not very dark). The color is the same intensity as the dark on the value scale because the purple has more saturation in it than the dark gray.
saintartaud Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional General Artist
I'm not sure if this helps, but I would assume where less light hits and the shadows on the form are darkest?
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