Value Portrait Painting

Fall 2010 Student Examples

More Student Examples

Gemma's Portrait

Purpose: Students will determine where values change when light moves over an uneven surface by using a range of gray values to paint the different values in a realistic self-portrait.


  • You will get one copy of your self-portrait. With tracing paper and the aid of the light box or a window, trace the edges of the shapes of the different values you see.
  • This is will take a while. Please look carefully and find all the changes in value. In some cases, you may need to improvise value changes ( separating you chin from your neck).
  • On the tracing paper, assign each value shape the number 1 - 6, with 1 being the lightest and 6 the darkest value. (if necessary, use your painted value strips to help assign correct values)
  • Make a “sandwich” in this order: acetate, 8.5” x 11” tracing paper drawing, folder(to keep it stiff) and enough tape along the edges to tack it all together (a small piece will do).
  • Your drawing and acetate will go on the left side and your photo will be taped to the right side. See example.
  • As you cover the acetate sheet it will become harder to see the drawing and shapes underneath.
  • Start with your eyes, then move into the other features and areas of your face, doing the hair, clothes and background last.
  • You will have your photo for reference if you need help with assigning values to what you see.
  • If you make a mistake, just let the paint dry and then paint the appropriate value on top.
  • When complete, mount it onto a clean sheet of tagboard or paper, neatly write your name on the front and work on the assessment.