three value study

thanks so much for checking out my project!!

it is super far from finished! See the bottom of this page for things I'm trying to figure out. If you have any feedback or knowledge that could help me I would greatly appreciate it :D

NOTE: this page is a little outdated. Most of it was written when the app still looked like this.


I was inspired by the concept of the limited-value study. As an artist and a computer science student, I thought this would be a fun way to start learning about web development.


Making studies with a limited range of values is a popular exercise for artists wanting to improve their observational & compositional skills.

If you're drawing from a reference, these constraints force you to throw away a lot of information. You have to become decisive: what features of this image are actually necessary? Where can I group areas together? What shapes can I use to summarize this scene, faithfully and efficiently?


This is not an all-purpose drawing app. I wanted it to have just the essential features (shapes, lightness, darkness) and nothing more. As a result, the constraints of the exercise are built-in to this tool rather than self-imposed.

It's interesting how these subtle decisions (whether to include/exclude certain features, affordances) fundamentally alter how you interact with something, what you can create with it.

I've personally found a lot of joy in using this tool - both for the challenge of making representational art with it, and for the discovery of new habits, both serious and playful. (Somehow, when I'm not drawing from reference, it encourages me to doodle in this concise / cool / charming / childish sort of aesthetic. It's a lovely style I didn't know I was capable of producing.)


Here are some 3-value studies I've made in the past, one using Photoshop, and one using pen and paper. The first is based off of stills from the film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and the second is based off of Mr. Turner.

a series of 12 rectangular black and white digitally painted thumbnails, based off of the movie Birdman a sketchbook spread with 6 black and white thumbnails, each depicting a scene from the movie Mr. Turner

Here are some screenshots of 3-value drawings made with this tool! This is one I made:

And these four were made by my amazing friends! <3

3 value doodle by civet discord by scott 3 value doodle by pancaketents BREAST AUGMENTATION

The first is by civet, the second is by scott, and the last two are by pancaketents!



some ideas that are probs a reach: