Practice: Value Couplets

The Shading Course

Module 3 - How to Control Values

Practice: Value Couplets

Mark as Completed

Practice: Value Couplets

Mark as Completed


This is the little brother of the Value Scale assignment. Your main challenge here is edge control at the meeting between the two values.


  • One or two pencils. Any hardness appropriate to the tone you want to use.

  • A kneadable eraser and a mechanical eraser. 

  • A ruler. You can also use the edge of a book.

  • A piece of paper. You need a proper drawing paper, around 160 gsm (98 lb). Canson Mi-Teintes, Fabriano Roma, or Arches work well.


This project should take 1–2 hours to complete. The time depends on your experience level with graphite pencils. Take your time with this. Aim for quality.


  1. Draw a square, keeping the lines very light. They should not be visible in the final drawing.

  2. Draw two values next to each other that are similar in brightness/darkness. (Low contrast between them.)

  3. Your primary goal is to keep the meeting/edge/transition between the two values as razor sharp as you possibly can – without drawing a line between them. Watch the demonstration video of the Value Scale assignment before you start, it might help you with this.

  4. Your secondary goal is to make the tones as smooth as you can. (Free of texture/noise.)


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Former program director at Barcelona Academy of Art. Passionate about teaching craft and exploring the inner game of art.
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