Project Objectives

Develop visual understanding of the Element of Design Value.

Develop painting skills.

Intentionally create depth by using Broad Value Range.


Project Description

In this project we will use a Subject Matter: YOU focusing on Form to explore how Value evokes a sense of depth.


Required Materials

8”x10” Photo Eight (8) Sheets of 9" x 12" Drawing Paper 14” x 17” Bristol Board White Acrylic Paint Black Acrylic Paint Paint Brushes Mixing Palette Container for Water Cloth Rag HB Pencil Eraser Scissors Xacto Ruler Glue Stick (Black) Rubber Cement


Step-by-step Directions

Part 1

Step 1: Take a B&W selfie where your face occupies at least 80% of a 8" x 10" field. Make sure the image is in high resolution. Crop it or desaturate it in Photoshop if needed.

Step 2: Print your self-portrait.

Step 3: Place tracing paper over the printed self-portrait and using a mechanical pencil contour the photograph's different values. Your image should have nine (9) different value references - white, black and shades shades in between - in your contour mapping. Be sure that the values are accurately separated and not reduced to too few values for reproduction.

Step 4: Once you are done contouring all the different values use a thin pen {ultrafine or fine tip sharpie, similar felt tip or ballpoint pen). The contours should have a consistent line quality.

Step 5: Ground the back of the tracing paper - Contoured Self-Portrait - with a smooth layer of charcoal or graphite.

Step 6: Cut down the sheet of 9" x 12" Drawing paper to the same area size as the Contoured Self-Portrait print area (which should be 8" x 10").

Step 7: Using Artist tape, tape the cut down to 8" x 10" drawing paper onto a sturdy surface, and tape the Contoured Self-Portrait over it ensuring that neither moves.

Step 8: Trace the contour drawing on the cut down to 8" x 10" drawing paper with a mechanical pencil.

Part 2

Step 9: Create a value scale to use as a reference.
On your drawing paper, create a nine step value scale using your paints:

Start by drawing a 9" x 1" rectangle and dividing it into nine (9) even 1” squares.

The first value should be painted pure white (1), the last should be painted pure black (9).

Apply an even and smooth coat of pure white paint on the first square (1).

Apply an even and smooth coat of pure black paint on the ninth square (9).

On your palette, mix the same amount of pure white with black. Apply an even and smooth coat of paint on the middle value (5).

Paint the remaining four values by mixing white and black according to the sample below.

Let it dry.

Cut the Value Scale with a ruler and Xacto knife and write your name in the back.

Acrylic Value Scale

Step 10: Use the Value Scale you created in Step 9 over each grid of the photograph to analyze and define the corresponding values to be used. Match the value scale with your contour mapping by labeling the shades in the contour mapping from 1 to 9 according to the original shades.

Step 11: Create the tints and shades for your project:

Fold three (3) pieces of drawing paper in thirds and cut the paper in the fold with a ruler and Xacto knife.

Following the guidelines for the Value Scale you created in Step 7, smoothly and evenly paint each third of the paper one of the values from your value scale.

Allow to dry.

Part 3

Step 12: Using the scissors cut each value you painted into small imperfect shapes, varying in size and shape. Set them aside separated by value in individual containers.

Step 13: Place the cut values/shapes on your 8" ×10" drawing paper so they will correspond with the original values in your photograph.

Make sure you match the values.

Use your scissors to make any edits to your pre-cut shapes that you need.

Don’t worry if you feel a value is incorrect, you can always edit it later by placing another value on top.

Use the numbered contour mapping as tool to ensure that you are placing each value in the correct place.

Use glue stick to glue down each shape.

If done correctly, there should be no areas of your paper left uncovered.

To ensure that your background looks unified, use shapes in this area as well.

Do not outline facial features or other areas.

Each area of the face should be broken down into flat planes (shapes of value).

Allow for shapes to overlap one another.

If you accurately copy each shape and value, your self portrait should be very close to your photograph.

Step 14: Once your portrait is complete, mount it on the 14”x17” piece of bristol board using your rubber cement glue. Make sure the drawing is centered; use your ruler to create guidelines with pencil before gluing.


Project Considerations

Is the portrait occupying the whole area of the composition?

Has a broad value scale been established?

Are all 9 values from your value scale present?

Does the portrait break each value into a flat plane?

Have you avoided outlining facial features?

Has the final design been executed in a professional manner?

Was the drawing paper cut properly (straight and even sides)?

Are the value paints painted with an even and smooth coat?

Were the value pieces glued with care and without smudges?

Are the design Designs should utilize the designated materials with care, effort, and attention to detail. This includes proper mounting to Bristol Board.

CRAFTSMANSHIP is extremely important for each of your designs and is part of the grading criteria. Do not fold, bend, crease, smudge, tear your artworks! Always take great care when creating each design and then put directly into your portfolio case.

What is Craftsmanship? Care in construction and finishing; demonstration of skill and knowledge of processes; attention to detail. The quality of design and work shown in something that is made by hand.


Project Delivery

Printed Photograph.
Drew contour mapping over Photograph.
Painted the Value Scale.
Painted the value panels.
Cut the value panels in small chips.
Properly glued down the value chips.
Presented final composition mounted on Bristol board.


Grading Criteria

This project is worth 8 points.
Projects will be graded based on the criteria listed below.

  1. Craftsmanship: Has the final design been executed in a professional manner?
  2. Materials: Were the paints applied with care, effort, and attention to detail.
  3. Composition: Does the design activate the entire picture plane?
  4. Elements of Design: Were the values properly introduced?
  5. Principles of Organization: Does the design utilize the principles of organization to unify the elements of design? Principles of organization include negative/positive space, figure/ground relationships, contrast, repetition, emphasis, and directional forces.
  6. Illusion of Depth: Does the design demonstrate an understanding and ability to apply basic concepts of illusion of depth (line systems, perspective, value gradation, shaped value gradation, overlapping, repetition, continuation)?
  7. Form and Subject Matter: Does the design utilize form, to convey the subject matter (self-portrait)?
  8. Punctuality: Were all parts of the project delivered on time?

Project 7 | Value Assessment Form

Each bullet point will be graded on the following scale:

  • 1 point: Exceeds Standards
  • 0.75 point: Meets Standards
  • 0.5 point: Approaches Standards
  • 0.25 point: Does Not Meet Standards
  • 0 points: Did not complete

Maximum Point total: 8 Points


Related Presentations


Project 7 | E-portfolio

Self-Critique Questions
Artwork Documentation
Writing Assignment
E-Portfolio Notes


Project 7 | Resources

Project 7 Printable Hand-out [PDF]

Value [PDF]


Project 7 | Related Reading

Design Basics: Value


Project 7 | Sample Work


Project and some Student Samples appropriated from Prof. Mahr, Westchester Community College, NY