Value Scale

This practice is as much seeing the value range of your drawing pens and pencils as it is an exercise toward achieving the right shading in your drawings.

You will need three things to complete the shading exercises - 1. paper, 2. pencils and 3. a pencil sharpener.

  1. Printer paper will be used for these exercises if you print the value scale printable files that are on this page instead of drawing them. At some point, the student should draw the value scales.
  2. Pencils - any set of drawing pencils should be okay. Look for pencils that are rated with the graphite grading scales. If you do not know what graphite grading scales are, keep reading-- oh, I will just tell you- it is the pencil hardness rating.
  3. Pencil Sharpener - Your student will need a good one. Please don't get a dinky little pencil sharpener. I had dinky pencil sharpeners as a kid and instead of using those things, I went into the kitchen and used my mother's knives. I did it when she wasn't looking. This one is good- The Best Pencil Sharpener Ever

The Value Scale Printable Files

Shading Exercise
This printable has this assignment written across the bottom

Assignment: Each day, at least once, fill in one row of squares shading darkest to lightest using pencils or pens.

The illustration below shows a completed value scale.

Value Scales with Shaded Strips

Not for beginners -

Value Scale with Strip 1 - Match the values that are in the shaded strips when filling in the space between the strips.

Value Scale with Strip 2 - Challenging - This one has 3 strips per lesson. While matching the starting values of the strips, shade toward the next strip so that the shade matches.

A Completed Value Scale

Below is a value scale that is filled in with pen and pin and it is an example of using the scale for shading/value practice. The pencil hardness rating (graphite grading scales) is recorded. The list below describes the example.

  • Textures Used in Example Image Below
  • Row 1: smooth - pencil
  • Row 2: cross hatching - pencil
  • Row 3: contour - pencil
  • Row 4: lines - ink
  • Row 5: stippling - ink

shading scale
[Note: The shading exercise is related to drawing.]

Shading Exercises In a Drawing Notebook

gradated tone

Assignment: Do the following as often as needed
Draw a long thin rectangle on a page in your drawing notebook. With a pen/ink or with a pencil, draw in the rectangle minuscule strokes shading from dark to light. Being able to replicate a gradated shade is important in all colors.

Pencil Hardness

The image below and the larger image above shows an examples of pencil hardness from 4H through 8B.
Pencil brand used in this example: General Pencil: Kimberly

pencil hardness example

Image below: Pencils shown with sighting stick in front of scale practice

general pencil kimberly

Shading Practice

as described by John Ruskin

With Ink- John Ruskin writes about drawing exercises in detail in his book The Elements of Drawing: in three letters to beginners. The scale is Exercise III. The point of this exercise is learning to lay down a gradated tone with each tint being just a little paler or darker. You may read about this exercise online from at: Page 29 [] or at

With Pencil- In Exercise IV, Ruskin describes the shading exercise using pencil and if you continue reading in Exercise IV, he elaborates why a student of drawing must take great pains to work patiently.

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Blue Calendar

Donna Young

Dated 2-Page Block Planner for the Household Planner

Art Exercises: Shading Drills

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