Art 101 -2 value head study B&W no blending

This is a great exercise for any beginning artist. Actually, it's a good idea for any artist to come back to this  once in a while to help you remember what's important and to help you to keep things simple.

I always tell my students that it's not the details that define a likeness-it's the shapes. Look at the  B&W, simplified image below--do you know who that is? Well if you're familiar with the personality there's no doubt that you recognized Jimi Hendrix immediately. Why? It's the shapes! Not just the face, but also the hair and the proportions of hair to face.

I teach at a local community college and I have my students do this every semester. It's a great lesson and one of my favorites. If you want to try this at home, you can print out the image below and copy it. I don't mean copy, as in trace it, but rather draw it as accurately as you can with charcoal or pencil. Take your time and get it right. In class we usually make our paintings 16 x 12 because this gives you enough room to work into the small areas of the face. After you've drawn it out, it's kind of like paint- by-numbers. Remember, it's the Montagues and Capulets. They don't like each other, so no blending. Use black paint in the black areas and white paint in the white areas. Lay it down thick and with a little medium to help the paint flow. I find using two brushes works best.

 (Photo and digitized credits unknown)

The original image that the two-value image is based on.

(Photo credit unknown Jimi Hendrix)

Now, if you want to use your own image for this same lesson, here are a few instructions:

Choose an image that is not too complicated, something like the example of the Jimi Hendrix head above. In your choice of image editing programs, turn the image first to grey scale then to 2 values (I believe a posterize filter works but I think there are several ways to do this). Then you should be able to either print it out or just paint it from your computer monitor.

This exercise helps you see simple shapes which allows you to simplify and clarify your work. It also helps with your drawing ability. Simple, large shapes are a


part of drawing.

Good Luck!

Bryce ListonComment