1.2.10 Mid tones
The mid tone is a value which is approximately 1/2 way between the darkest dark and the general highlights. In a portrait if it has typical lighting, the mid tones will make up a large part of the skin. Hair and clothing could go either way depending on the colour. It is important to find and maintain good mid tones.
We talked about value in the section of tonal range. Value is a measure of how much light is reflected off the surface. Different colours will have varying strengths referred to as value, so that a light green and a certain yellow might be at the same value even though they are different colours. In black and white images, value is independent of colour since there is only really one colour (grey). If you were to make a black and white drawing of a bowl of fruit, then you would need to make a judgment on the relative values of the orange and of the banana. Some parts of the banana will have a darker value than some parts of the orange, and vice verse, but overall, you would expect the orange to be a darker value than the banana if it is viewed in the same light. Things in shadow naturally have darker values.
Look around at the objects you see. Every surface, is not uniform in value even if it is flat. As light falls on an object, it is reflected at an angle. For a curved surface, the amount of light reaching your eye depends on your current viewpoint. Therefore, a curved surface will have a high number of values. The way that you draw the transition between two given values is called shading. Almost all objects don't have distinct lines. Most objects are best represented by a continuous shift between light and dark. If you look at a person's face, there are no hard lines. You might at first perceive a wrinkle as a line, but a closer look will show a gradual change in value from light to dark to light to dark again. If you draw lines, then you produce a cartoon-like result. For realistic work, try to use shading. For a cartoon like effect or something else that you have in mind or feel like experimenting with, try using hard lines. Please note, there are no rules here, only guidelines, and in no way do I wish to restrict your artistic expression. If you find a way to use hard lines to good effect, then use them. One of the most impressive line drawings I have seen was a contour drawing of Lawrence of Arabia. It was constructed with hard lines in pen and ink. The drawing was minimalistic so that it would be degraded by the removal of any single line. But that drawing, good as it is, is not a realistic graphite representation which is the subject of this particular book.
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
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spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.