Watercolor values evaluation is the degree of lightness or darkness of a color. Gauging it is very important if the painting is to very good. A good idea with good composition will not look right once the values are off.

Understanding Watercolor Values

There are four things considered in understanding color values.

Color – is the degree of perception, light absorption, reflection, or emission of light as it interacts and is recognized by the eye. In layman's terms it is the recognition of blue being blue, red as red, and yellow as yellow including all its derivatives.

Shade – is the degree of darkness in a color

Tint – is the degree of lightness of color where deepening or lightening the tint by minute increments would change the colors temperament until you arrive at a totally different color.

Hue – is the degree of a colors modification. For example blue Green, Red Violet etc.

Watercolor Value Scale

Every eye reacts to light and color perceptions differently. The differences though are very minute but judging values are affected by these little differences. A blue-eyed person for example could see better in bright surroundings but perceptions suffer when in darker areas. Opposite in perception to light and darkness are darker eyed persons. Even when no two eyes are exactly the same in the manner by which it gauges color, shades tints and hues, a uniformity could be approximated if not totally achieved by using value scales as guides. Most artists learned to gauge this by using a gray scale. A typical gray scale is divided into ten increments of varying shades. On the top of the scale is a color that is pure white. The ten shades following that differs by 10% increments in the darkness (grayness) until the tenth shade, at the bottom of the scale that is colored pure black.

Gauging the Watercolor Value

The depth of a color is influenced largely by the manner in which the eye responds to light. When you place a lightly colored strip of paper and place it alongside the value scale, the eye will be drawn to compare it to the lighter shades of the grey in the scale. Conversely, darker colored strips will draw the eye to compare the color with the darker shades of grey. It is in this approximation of color that helps the artist judge color values and applies it to his color renditions.

Using a Value Scale in Watercolor painting

When color values have been determined, there are two methods that are used to make a value change. First is either the lightening of colors by diluting the pigment with more water until the correct value is achieved or darkening it by adding more pigments. The second is creating an illusion in the painting to lighten up the values like softening (or roughing) inside edges of the colors of the objects and images.

Finally, even with the best brands, watercolor values are different when the pigments are still wet compared to when the color dries. Adjustments in coloring then are made to achieve the best color values possible.