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Adventure Series 1

Introduction to Value Planes

Congratulations! You've finished the course!

Scott explains the John F. Calrson four value plane model.

5min 52sec

John F. Carlson developed this concept and you can find a more elaborate explanation in Chapter 3 of his book Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting.

From lightest to darkest, the four value planes in a landscape are:

  • Sky
  • Ground (horizontal plane)
  • Slanted (mountains, rocks, etc.)
  • Upright (vertical, often trees)


  • Understand that most light comes from the sky, therefore the sky is usually the lightest plane.
  • Darks are usually the uprights that get less light.
  • Carlson's guide is simply a jumping off point and we will go into more examples of this in later series. These Carlson rules are not always the case but are pretty common.
  • You will see other value videos of how values are taken apart and put back together in a variety of ways in the value and composition category.

Value numbers* used in this drawing:

  • #8: Darkest uprights
  • #4: Slanted planes
  • #2: Ground plane and sky

*Reference back to our value scale lesson in "Getting Started" to understand value scale numbers.

With the value markers, make a 4 value landscape chart for use as reference in your drawing journal.

  • Drawing Journal
  • Value Markers

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