Wonder Time ARTS
Wonder Time ARTS

Gradient and Value Scales



I took my drawing class from Professor Carera at Reedley College, and guess what she made us do? A gradient scale.


According to artist and teacher Dorian Iten, "

Why a Value Gradient?

 A Value Gradient is about controlling your medium. Therefore it makes sense to do a gradient scale first. The specific skills you will improve are edge control, value control, and creating smooth tones. This is extremely valuable in representational drawing and will allow you to avoid or resolve many drawing problems.

I recommend doing at least one Value Gradient for each medium you work in. It’s ideal to do it when you first “meet” a new medium, but it’s helpful at any skill level. Many experienced artists still use Value Gradients to maintain their craftsmanship. If it’s good enough for them, it’s surely good enough for us, right?

Email image to www.wondertimearts@gmail.com. Ready, Set, DRAW!

Special Thanks to Dorian Iten for letting us use his How to make a Value Gradient in Charcoal

He is an artist and teacher from Barcelona in Spain  

A) Gather materials

  • A soft charcoal (I like the  vine charcoal.)
  • A hard charcoal (The blue Nitram for me.)
  • A kneadable eraser (This is pretty much indispensable when working in charcoal.)
  • A ruler (You can also use the edge of a book.)
  • A piece of paper (You need a proper drawing paper, around 160 gsm (98 lb). Canson Mi-Teintes, Fabriano Roma, or Arches works well.

B) Things to keep in mind

  • Working carefully and with clean hands, you will finish much quicker than trying to rush.
  • Keep “cleaning up” your gradient as you work, so it is free of texture/noise and you can see the values clearly.

1) Draw a box

Use light lines to indicate the shape of your gradient.

2) Start with black

Place your “darkest dark” on the left side of your gradient.
The far right represents your “lightest light”, the paper value.

3) Find the middle value

Add a tone in the center that you estimate as the middle value between “darkest dark” and “lightest light”.
It won’t be perfect, but get as close as you can.

4) Begin the Gradient

Grow out from black towards the middle value. Adjust with your eraser if necessary.

5) Rough Gradient

Keep expanding to create a rough version of your gradient. Is it well balanced overall?

6) Refine

Clean up the tones to make a smooth transition from left to right.

7) Finish

Finish the scale by cleaning up any irregularities. This can take a while! Be patient and really go for perfection.

To see his visuals visit his website




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Mrs. Schellenberg & Young Artists

Ralph Waldo Emerson's  Poem:             Success-     to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know  even one life breathed easier because of you.

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We used the wiring for our artful galimotos

Duncan Ceramics, Thank you! With your help and friends of the Fresno Art Museum 's  support, every child created a tie-dyed T Shirt. You made our world brighter!

Fresno County Office of Education, we thank You for the opportunity to create with clay!

Thank you Mr. Bullwinkle and Fresno County Office of Education for awarding us with a grant to purchase a kiln and clay supplies. We are so happy and grateful!

Love Mrs. Schellenberg & Young Imagineers

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