More from Andrew Loomis

Posted on

The brilliant illustrator, writer, and teacher, Andrew Loomis, first published his book, Creative Illustration in 1947. The book has had many re-printings, testifying to its worth.



The section of the book on “Tone”, I’ve found to be particularly helpful. Some insights have been shared from this section before, but this week I want to note a few additional teachings that were not noted previously. If you would like to purchase Creative Illustration, here’s WHERE.  (To enlarge images just click on the image)


“All light and shadow bears relationship. The brighter the light the darker the shadow appears by contrast. The lower the light the more nearly the shadow approaches the value appearing in the light. In a diffused light the lights and shadows become diffused also. In dim light the lights and shadows are very close in value. So we find that the relationship of light to shadow depends entirely upon the intensity of the light.”


Loomis taught that there are only four basic tonal plans available for the painter. A distinct separation between each value allows the artist room to manipulate the value within each value shape without infringing upon one of the other values. “Each value pattern can be varied one tone without getting into and mixed up with another pattern.”

The general background tone determines each value plan, that is, the background value is the predominant one. Here are his four basic tonal plans:

Loomis' four basic value plans

Loomis’ four basic value plans


Here are the four plans found in the work of some wonderful artists.

Greys and black on white Emile Friant  (1863-1932)

Greys and black on white
Emile Friant (1863-1932)

Black, white, dark grey on light grey John Ottis Adams  (1851-1927)

Black, white, dark grey on light grey
Edward Seago (1910-1974))

Black, white, light grey on dark grey John Ottis Adams  (1851-1927)

Black, white, light grey on dark grey
John Ottis Adams (1851-1927)

Greys and white on black Rembrandt  (1606-1669)

Greys and white on black
Rembrandt (1606-1669)


“It really does not matter much which plan is used so long as the areas of the four values do not become too equalized or the whole thing too broken up. The values will be more telling if organized into simple groups that will hold up in mass one against the other. There are really few subjects which when thought about will not lend themselves to such simple arrangement.”


“More pictures are bad because no attempt at tone organization has been made than for any other reason.”


Loomis stresses that the artist should primarily be interested in creating a striking design because that is much more important than the subject or reference material used.

“It can be taken as a sound rule that the simpler the presentation of a subject, the better it will be pictorially. A simple presentation technically resolves itself into a few simple organized areas of a few values. Design is always there to experiment with, to allow you to express yourself in your own way. It is the thing that makes you or breaks you, when everything else is said and done.”

Here are two more important blog posts I’ve done on the teachings of Andrew Loomis: “The Form Principle” and “Howard Pyle’s teachings”


***If you would like to receive this weekly blog automatically, please complete the simple form to the right of this page.


DVD promo


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE


Please Note - You must be logged into a Facebook account in order to write comments. We highly recommend using Google Chrome, Fire Fox, or Internet Explorer since some individuals have not been able to leave comments on the Safari browser. If you have any issues, please email me.