Friday, November 26, 2010

The Denman Ross Value Scale

A value scale is a way of describing how values change between black and white. One of the most well known is the Denman Ross nine step value scale. This was devised in 1907 and was introduced in The painter's palette: a theory of tone relations, an instrument of expression by Denman Waldo Ross  (You can read the book online and/or download various formats for a digitized version of this book by clicking the link in the title.  This can be used for any fair use which is non-commercial)

You can see that one of the terms he uses to describe the different values is ' highlight' - which is one which artists use all the time.

The Denman Ross Value Scale
How to create a Denman Ross Value Scale (a nine step value scale)

The way to create a nine step value scale is as follows:
  • start with white and black at either end of your nine value scale
  • mix a medium grey which is visually halfway between white and black
  • mix a light grey halfway between the mid grey and white
  • mix a dark grey halfway between the mid grey and black (you now have a total of 5 value steps)
  • create four intermediate greys at a value midway between each of the values you have so far
The interval between each value in the scale should be equal.

You can use these values when working out a composition.  Try using just three values or five values.

More information about tonal values

More links to information about tonal values and the Denman Ross Value Scale

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