Exercise 29: Back to Basics

How do Exercises work and how can I participate?

  • Every other Monday we will create a new exercise with a new topic and goal with a 2 week timeframe.
  • The community will submit their own work along with myself and provide feedback or tips on the submissions.
  • On Friday, September 5th, THIS post will be updated with the new images and any tips and techniques learned along the way.
  • How can I participate? – Read the exercise challenge below and submit your image via the “Submit Image” button below.

Exercise 29 (E29) – Back to Basics

EXERCISE:  Taking a look at refining the basics of adding values doing simple exercises.

  • Two (2) Week Exercise!

I have been requested many times for a simple exercise that focuses on the basics of adding values to create form and structure. Let’s break it down into the simplest of simple exercises. Below are four practices for you to zone in and focus on how to shade values. Use the light box directions as you do your own practice sheet.

  • 1. Outie vs. Innie – To start it off, you can have the same shape but how you shade the lighting, will give the illusion of depth. Really imagine where the light source is coming from and how that would be reflected on the spheres.
  • 2. Edges vs. Curves – When it comes to shading objects. There are two extremes you can focus on and everything else is somewhere in between. The first is hard edges and the different surfaces of an object act as “planes” that will often have high contrast due to the edges. The second is the soft gradient edge that reflects the light gradually over the surface area because there is no distinct falloff where the light creates a high contrast. (ALTHOUGH often metallic or shiny surfaces may gave the look of high contrast due to the reflective nature)
  • 3. Different Light Directions – When you begin to imagine your objects in a 3-Dimensional Space, you you begin to imagine lighting and where to place it more accurately. This is a good practice to imagine adding different lighting on the same object, making you think more actively on how you place your lights and shadows.
  • 4. Enclosed vs. Open – Lastly this focuses on two things: bounce lighting: and the subtle difference in shadow values in an enclosed area.

DOWNLOAD: Download this Exercise 29 Practice Sheet .PSD HERE.


(You can hide the green extra tips and guidelines)


Work fast, and then refine. Also attempt this exercises with just the simple brush so you can focus less on how you create the values and more on if the values are being placed correctly. A lot of artists also ask me how to make the blending look smooth without it looking blurry or without taking hours with a hard edge brush. The trick is getting a solid mix of both or even try using a textured brush like a chalk brush.

Also the biggest tip is: STAY CONSISTENT with your lighting choices. If you add a light, make sure that light source is represented throughout the subject matter.


GOAL: To strengthen your fundamental skills of rendering values.

This is no use attempting advance techniques if you cannot understand and complete the fundamental basics of value shading to create form and shape! The more you can fully comprehend and realistic reflect value shading, the better your pieces will become, trust me! And you should be able to look at something you did a year ago and be able to correct minor flaws, which are often value shading mistakes!


  • Fundamentals: Value Shading – This is taking the exercise to another level with using the basic 4 shapes to practice building your values and practice different lighting scenarios as well!


The Results Update

Thanks everyone for being patient with this update. With the workshop I was getting prepared of that, but I was finally able to getting around to wrapping this exercise up! As with most studies, learning to understand values are so important to further your skill level. So taking it back to the basics are really important for you as an artist. Below is a step by step guide to help you as a reference chart to complete your own.




I was pleasantly surprised when I saw how many turned in their own submissions but also how great the quality of many of therm are. Below are three that really stood out to me from fjaradigitd, and plutonka. Thanks again to everyone that tried out this exercise and stay tuned for the next one!


Remember: You can always submit even after the week is over! These are meant to act as exercises to practice and strengthen your work!

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5 Responses to “Exercise 29: Back to Basics”
  1. Posts: 8
    jbfuller says:

    This was fun to work on, especially since I wanted to do SOMETHING artsy but lacked focus. AND I was excited to see it had a “deadline” that I hadn’t missed!

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