Elements of Art: Value

Contributor: Stefani Allegretti. Lesson ID: 13494

Value is the difference between pink and red. It is also the element that makes artwork appear three-dimensional and realistic. Discover more about this important element of art here!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Have you ever seen a black and white image with lots of shades of gray in between?

If you have, then you have seen the element of art known as value.

Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color.

All colors can have different values because they can be made to appear to be darker or lighter.

  • How does this happen?

In painting, for example, artists create different values by mixing a color with white, black, or gray. When white is mixed with a color, it is called a tint. When black is mixed with a color, it is called a shade. When gray is mixed with a color, it is called a tone.

Red mixed with black, for example, creates a shade like maroon. Red mixed with white creates a tint like pink. When you have the color red with shades and tints of that color, you have a range of values. The more colors in between the darkest maroon and the lightest pink, the more range of values you see.

When drawing, value is created not by mixing colors or adding white or black, but by applying more or less pressure on your paper with your pencil to create lighter and darker lines.

To learn more, watch [ELEMENTS OF ART] V A L U E from I am an Artist:

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A value scale helps to illustrate a range of value. Take a look at the value scale below to see the graduation of tones from light to dark:

shades of gray

In this image, you can see the various values of the color green:

green shades

Value is important in art because it can help to create a sense of light and darkness in a work. Adding value can also help objects appear to be more realistic and three-dimensional.

In the artwork below, you can see different ranges of values of blue, green, and other colors:

colorful landscape

As you can see, there is an illusion of light in this artwork as well as shadow that makes this landscape appear to be more realistic. The building and other objects appear to be three-dimensional. The range of values the artist added to this artwork helps to accomplish this.

Take a look at the two pictures of the apples below. Both images use the same basic colors: red, green, and brown. However, one has a range of values, and one does not. Look at the difference and how the values of the colors make the apple on the left look more realistic and three-dimensional:


In this section, you learned about the element of art called value. Now, move on to the Got It? section to see what you remember.

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