• Kathy

How the Gray Scale & Value Finder Takes the Fear Out of Selecting Colors

Updated: Oct 9

I love gadgets! Oh, I really love gadgets. I can spend hours in a kitchen shop, a stationery or an art supply store just marveling at all the gadgets. I even buy a few. Then this happens . . . weeks (months or years later) I open the drawer and while digging through it’s contents I come across this gadget. Self I ask, “what the heck is this for”? If the gadget that I just re-discovered is in a kitchen drawer, the reason I can’t remember is simply because I don’t cook enough. But if the gadget is in my coloring supplies, then the issue is I haven’t used it enough to make it part of my coloring process.


One of my favorite gadgets that made it's way out of the drawer and now stays out on my desk is my Gray Scale & Value Finder. Do you have one of these? Do wonder why? How the heck does that relate to coloring with Copic markers or colored pencils, or even watercolor? I bought this because a teacher recommended it. But I really couldn’t figure out how it related to any of the coloring classes I was taking at the time. But once I started to branch out and create my own coloring projects, this became an everyday staple in my coloring process.


Here’s how:


I use photo references for all my coloring projects as an aid to achieve the level of realism I want. If my photo reference is not in my computer, I will import it (from a camera or scanner). Then I will convert my color photo reference to a black and white photo. Then I use the Gray Scale & Value Finder to determine the value of the colors in my photo reference. Once I know the value I’m striving for I can then select my Copic marker, swatch my colored pencil or even mix my watercolor until it matches the desired value.


If you look closely at my Gray Scale & Value Finder you might notice that it doesn’t look like yours. How do I know? Because I put number stickers on mine.


When I use the finder with colored pencils or watercolors the value numbers listed on this tool aren’t as important to me as my matching to the lightness or darkness of the desired value. But when it comes to Copic markers, the value numbers on the Gray Scale & Value Finder are very beneficial. That’s because the last number on your Copic marker (except the blacks) indicate the value of the hue (color) and those are the same values as indicated on the Gray Scale & Value Finder.


But hold on, there’s one little problem here. The values indicated by the last number on the Copic marker are the opposite of those on the Gray Scale & Value Finder. For example, if I wanted to select a Copic marker from the RV family that had a value of 1 on the Gray Scale & Value Finder, I would select any RV marker ending with the number 9. Or, if I wanted to select a Copic marker from the B family that had a value of 6 on the Gray Scale & Value Finder, I would select any B marker ending with the number 4.

So now you know why I have these stickers on my Gray Scale & Value Finder, to eliminate confusion when I am selecting Copic markers.


If you find you have one of these old gadgets stashed away in your supplies,

take it out, put number stickers on it and

then keep it with your Copic markers.


This has nothing to do with this topic, but I just came across this and wanted to share. Many of us feel uncomfortable calling ourselves artists, but look at what I just came across from the Oxford English Dictionary, their broad meanings of the term “artist”:

  1. A learned person or Master of Arts

  2. One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicine, astrology, alchemy, chemistry

  3. A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice

  4. A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic

  5. One who makes their craft a fine art One who cultivates one of the fine arts traditionally the arts presided over by the muses


You did read #3 above, right? So as you practice today, know you are an artist!

I can't believe that tomorrow is the first of March. But everything here is turning green so I know it must be true. You can see more of my coloring projects and follow me on Instagram.


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