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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Badrock

Scale up your shades

When sketching out a black and white picture from a colored photo, it can be difficult to translate that colour to black and white or grey scale values. It’s important that we understand how to do this so we accurately represent the subject.

How to do this: STEP ONE:

  • OPTION 1:

    • Try photocopying the picture onto a greyscale. This is the first obvious choice, but it does have some drawbacks. You can’t play around with the values, some cheaper models of photocopiers won’t necessarily come out with the ideal values. Sometimes they can come out darker or not as sharp as you would like.

  • OPTION 2:

    • Scan the image and then alter it in a photoshop program. This way you can sharpen, fade, play with the lighting, and the shade values as well. You can get the image just the way you visualize the final product before printing.

STEP TWO: Now it’s time to create your value scale. Draw out with a ruler a rectangle and divide it into the number of boxes you have relevant to the number of grades of pencils you have. For example, the new Faber-Castel Graphite pencil kit has 6 graphite pencils of different ranges, so I would divide the strip into 6 boxes. Make them wide enough to have a light tone, middle tone and dark tone. I work from left to right shading in each box according to that grading. Make sure you have full saturation of each section. So, 100% saturation in the first third of the box holding the pencil as lightly as you can on the page. the middle section, repeat, but this time, moderately press onto the page, creating a slightly darker value with the same pencil. In the last third of the square press harder and with 100% saturation. Be mindful not to press so hard that you are creating scratch lines in the paper. Now, do this for all the different valued pencils. Make sure to do this in a linear fashion, for example, start with 5H-4H-3H-2H-H-HB-B-2B-3B-4B-5B etc. This just makes it easier to determine the pencil you want to use when using this scale.

STEP THREE: Now you have the value scale and your black and white picture what to do next? Run your scale-up against the picture and match the value. If you want to take this to the next level, take note of the point at which one shade blends into the other, now you know where to start blending the different valued pencils which will help to make a smoother transition from light to dark. Now you know which pencil to use and your colour matching will be on point!

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