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Good compositions are generally an arrangement of three or four large masses (shapes). Remember to incorporate the principle of dominance. In order for a picture to have a design it must have value differences or simply light and dark masses that produce a "value pattern". Using only three values, the following basic value patterns are among the possibilities.

A dark shape against midtones.

A light shape against midtones.

A large dark and a small light against midtones.

A large light and a small dark against midtones.

A graded value pattern.

A checkerboard pattern.

Splitting the midtone value into light and dark-midtone increases the possibilities, but try to limit the basic masses to four values. That is not to say that there won't be other values, such as dark "accents" or light "highlights", but other than those try to place the existing halftones into one or another of the larger value shapes.
Viewing your subject through colored sheets of acetate can help show value relationships and patterns. Try red, yellow and blue.
Sometimes it is easier to spot problems when the work is seen in reverse. A mirror can be used to see in reverse and can help you judge your value pattern, proportions and composition. It can be placed to view both your composition and model in the mirror at the same time. A black mirror can help in judging value relationships and value patterns.


10 Value Scale

High Key Paintings with predominately lighter values are said to be "high key".
Low Key Paintings with predominately darker values are said to be "low key".

Color Value
Colors (hues) are situated at different positions on the value scale.

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