Do Your Drawings and Painting Look Flat and Faded?

Do Your Drawings and Painting Look Flat and Faded?

A question I get asked all the time, why does my art look flat? Why doesn’t my image have any pop?

Most members of Drawing Tutorials Online draw and or paint for a hobby. It’s terrible to put so much time and effort into a piece of art only to realize it has that flat faded look. Of course you most likely notice this when the drawing or painting is complete. After that you feel as though you wasted your time working on something that you are not happy with.

There are multiple factors that can contribute to your artwork looking flat and faded. Paper pencil combinations are a major contributing factor. Perhaps you are drawing with a 2H pencil on paper that has no texture for the pencil to grab onto.

Concerning a painting there too could be a multitude of reasons why your image looks flat and faded. Perhaps you haven’t cleaned your palette nor brushes during a long painting session. That could contribute to everything becoming muddy, therefore flat.



The antidote to a flat faded image is planning out a value study ahead of time. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing this. You literary can sketch out a small one inch by two inch value study in your sketchbook. You’ll definitely want to use a soft 2B pencil.

When you work on your value study force yourself to use only three values. Use a dark, middle tone and a light value. At first this might seem super difficult to condense everything into three values. However the goal is to simplify, figuring everything out ahead of time. So when you start working on your final there won’t be any disappointing surprises.

If three values is too restricting for you then try a five value study.

Just be self aware. Are you light handed or heavy handed? Just being conscious of the three value system will solve this issue.

Now of course I can go on forever here about art materials. But the three value study transcends art materials. It works with any traditional medium, even digital.

So the next time you spend you Saturday working on a drawing or painting, take a moment to plan out a value study. You can spend five minutes on it or fifty. Depending on your process and style.

If you want in depth instruction on how to utilize three value studies, color studies, value patterns, compositional shapes and a whole lot more take a closer look at our Master Class Series.

For the price of two Starbucks coffees you can learn some pretty incredible image making techniques. Your drawings and paintings will never look flat and faded again.

Thanks for reading.

Stop creating flat art via a three value study