Watercolor Value Scales

If you’ve been painting with watercolors for a while, you’ve probably heard of a watercolor value scale.

Thus, you might be wondering, “What is a value scale in watercolor painting?”

A value scale shows the full range of a hue’s lightest to darkest tones. In watercolor painting, adding more water to a pigment lightens the value whereas using less water makes the pigment darker.

As you can see, learning about values is very important for watercolor artists because:

  • Understanding values helps you use a hue’s full range of values more effectively.
  • Developing this skill helps you master water control. It’s a skill that helps you create light, medium, and dark values.
  • Painting value scales is great practice because you create value scale reference charts for your pigments.
There is an image of a watercolor value scale in the color red. There are seven boxes on the scale. The first box on the left is white and the scale transitions to dark red in the seventh box on the right.

In other words, not taking the time to study values can make or break your painting.

But don’t worry!

The first step to developing or improving this skill is actually quite easy.

So, let’s have a look at the step-by-step process of creating your own watercolor value scales.

How Do You Make a Value Scale in Watercolor?

Before you begin, make sure you have a pencil, eraser, ruler, a single watercolor pigment of your choice, a mixing tray, clear water, a blank piece of watercolor paper, and a flat brush.

Once you have your watercolour supplies ready, follow these simple instructions:

  1. First, use your pencil and ruler to create a large rectangle on your watercolor paper.
  2. Then, divide the rectangle into six equal sections that are all the same length.
  3. Third, dilute the watercolor pigment on your mixing tray to create the lightest tone possible. Load up your brush with the light, watery pigment.
  4. Next, identify the section at the end of the scale and keep this first box white. Skip to the second box and fill it in by using the flat wash technique.
  5. Fifth, add a little more pigment to the mixing tray to darken the paint a bit. Load up your brush.
  6. Then, color in the third box with this slightly darker pigment.
  7. Repeat steps five and six by adding a little more pigment to each box on the scale.
  8. Last, wait for the watercolor value scale to dry.
There is an image of watercolor value scales in the color gray. There are seven boxes on the scale. The first box on the left is white and the scale transitions to black in the seventh box on the right.

When you’re all done, every box on the scale should be completely filled in with pigment.

The paint in the final box should appear the darkest whereas the pigment at the opposite end of the scale should be pure white.

Improve Your Watercolor Paintings: Next Steps

Congrats, you’re all done!

In this article, you’ve learned how to paint easy watercolor value scales.

Practicing value scales is comparable to a pianist learning how to play piano scales: the more you practice this fundamental skill, the better you will become at your craft.

Now it’s time for you to take this skill one step further by learning how to use values in watercolor painting.

So, join Miranda Balogh by enrolling in Monochrome Watercolor Painting: Master Value And Tone With One Color to learn the secrets of color and value.

In this course, you learn how to create four awesome watercolor paintings that illustrate values in unique and creative ways.

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