Helpful Tools for Mastering Value


With intentional practice over a period of time, artists improve their mastery of value, learning to discern the relative lightness or darkness of shapes and forms with increasing sensitivity. On the way towards mastery, the right tools are invaluable. To help you on your journey, we have a selection that will train your sensitivity to values and help you master your medium. Do you use any of these tools in your own work, or are there any you would suggest? Feel free to leave a note in the comments section below!

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Color Evaluator

Color evaluators like this filter the light from your subject through red or green screens. Removing the hue and saturation of your subject’s color can be an effective way of isolating its value to see subtle differences between light and dark.

Great for

Artists of all kinds

Gray Scale and Value Finder

Value finders are somewhat standard features in many kits to assist artists. They allow you to directly compare colors in your subject to an established value on the card, which can then help you target a specific value when mixing paint. For those of you familiar with the Munsell System, the one featured here could fit nicely into your mixing system.

Great for

Painting or sketching from life.

Grey Scale Markers

There’s something powerful about working with grey-scale permanent markers, as they force artists into making decisions about value. Creating sketches and studies with these markers can be an effective way to establish a basic value plan and composition. They also work great for final works!

Great for



Urban sketching

Drawing and more

Neutral Grey Palette

Many artists choose to mix colors on a neutral palette to help achieve more precision over the hue, value, and saturation of their mixes. Colors and values appear different based on their surroundings due to a principle called “simultaneous contrast,” and a neutral grey surface minimizes that effect as much as possible.

Great for

Oil and acrylic painters.

Share your comments below! If you use any of these tools, tell us what you think! What others would you recommend?


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