The artistic kind, not the money or morals kind. 🙂
I was watching a Quilting Arts video from Season 2, and quilter Katie Pasquini Masopust was saying that she stores her fabrics by color AND within each color, in seven value groups. Her message was that many quilters make a mistake by working only in the mid range of values, missing the lightest lights and darkest darks.
I would think it would depend on your purposes. Classic red-and-white quilts or indigo-and-white coverlets surely don’t need a wider range of values, and old quilts in faded pastels are so comforting and calming. But I tend to use a lot of contrast in my quilts, so analyzing them for value range was an interesting idea to me. I also wanted to test myself to see if color and value instincts are as good as I like to think they are!
(I worked in Adobe® Photoshop® Elements because I’m familiar with it, but I was looking at that free GIMP graphic editing software on line and I think it has all the tools you would need if you decide to try this on your own photos.)
First I made myself a little mock paint chip card, by just drawing 7 rectangles in a column.
Then I opened up one of my quilt photos in the same screen as the sample paint chip card.
Then I used the color picker tool (it looks like an eye dropper). Clicking it on a spot in the photo magically selects that exact color, and makes it the foreground color. So I decided which fabric in the quilt was the lightest and clicked on it.
Then I changed to the fill tool (it looks like a pouring paint bucket), and filled the top rectangle.
I went back to the color picker, chose a fabric that looked a little deeper in value to me, clicked to sample the color, and filled the next rectangle.
Once all seven rectangles were filled with a color, I merged them into one image, so I could convert it to black and white. This showed me what the relative values of the colors actually were. Here are the results I got from the butterfly quilt in the screen shot above.
You can see that what I thought were seven different values, are really only five. The gold, orange, and light plum color are all very close in value. (It was also very interesting to me that colors that I saw as white and pale yellow, sampled as pale blue and a muted greeny-yellow.)
It may look like a lot of those mid-range grays are the exact same value, but on the computer, as I clicked on each one with the color picker, I could see a definite value change from one sample to the next.
Next I decided to try one of those old tops that I think of as faded, with little range of value. But this quilt definitely has “light lights” and a few “dark darks.”
Another, less computerish, way to do this would be to take black and white photos of your quilts, and then use one of those value cards from the art supply store to see what range of values you had worked into the piece. I tried converting my photo into black and white first, and then choosing the values with the color picker, but for me it was better to work with the colors first, and then let the computer do the B/W conversion.
I could see using this method with a quilt that was still in the design stage, to be sure that I didn’t have just a few either very light or very dark pieces drawing too much attention away from the rest of the quilt. But I don’t think I will ever be too concerned about using an exact number of values. What do you think? Do you think a good range of values helps make a more successful textile?