Let’s Play with Contrasts: Lights & Darks

This activity is all about contrasts, also known as values; lights and darks and everything in between. You’ll actually learn more about colors by coloring or painting in grayscale. It’s the contrasts, the lightest lights to the darkest darks that provide the most interest and drama.

If you think of movies, more drama and action is created where contrasts exist. How boring a movie would it be if everyone just went about their business without any ups or downs. It’s our contrasts that make us and art interesting and alive.


  • 2B Pencil
  • 6B Pencil (or 4B, 8B, 9B…whatever you have…the higher the number the greater the contrast)
  • Practice Paper
  • Design to Color

Activity #1 – Make a Grayscale Chart
For each pencil make a row of scribbles from light to dark. I find it easier to do the lightest and darkest first, then fill in from there. Notice how much or little pressure it takes to color dark and light. Here’s a sample one I did.

Greyscale Chart 2b-6b
Greyscale Chart 2B and 6B Pencils

Activity #2 – Color an Image
I created this simple design for us to color in with your #2 and #6 pencils. You can follow along the way I did or you can do it your own way. Use different variations of lights and darks based on the chart you created in activity #1. Be bold with your darkest dark and as light as possible with your lightest lights.

Do one version with the #2 pencil, then do another one with the #6 pencils. Notice the difference between to the two pencils; texture, color, pressure, etc.

Download Design

Below are images of my versions of this design:

2B - Light
2B Pencil, color a light area


2B Dark
2B Pencil, color in another area
2B Pencil - color in other areas in various values
2B Pencil – color in other areas in various values


2B Pencil - Finish all areas
2B Pencil – color in remaining sections
6B Pencils - color another version of the design
6B Pencils – color another version of the design
2B and 6B Versions - side-by-side
2B and 6B Versions – side-by-side


Happy Coloring!

joyfully, Maureen
The Mandala Lady


  1. I had to do a value scale with the H value pencils, B value pencils and the various charcoal pencils. We had to use three or four rectangles six inches long, two inches wide, and two inches apart.

    I like that your template makes it more fun and less of a chore. Thank you for supplying a file to practice on.

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