Learn to Draw - shading in drawing




Doing Some Shading

Practice shading

Let's draw and shade an egg

To get to know what shading feels like, you might want to practice shading before you dive in whole hog and shade an object in a drawing. You can do this by taking a blank piece of paper and draw short, quick, tight strokes. At first let the pencil glide very lightly on the paper so you get very light strokes. Keep shading but begin to push on the pencil just a little harder to make the strokes get a little darker. Keep moving the pencil but let up again and try to make the same shade as when you started. Note how it feels to shade. Begin to take a mental note of how hard you have to push to get a certain darkness of shadow. Try varying your stroke length and how far apart you make each stroke. Note what happens as you try a new direction of the stroke. Try drawing horizontal strokes, then try vertical. Begin to know how it feels to do shading.

Let's do some shading! Grab an egg out of your refrigerator and set it in front of you. Of course it should be on a flat surface so the egg doesn't roll and break. If you don't like eggs, or haven't been to the store lately, you can use the egg on this page. But it would be better if you had your own egg, because drawing real-life objects is always better and easier than drawing from photographs.

Tape or clip a few sheets of paper horizontally onto your drawing desk. With your pencil draw the egg shape in the middle and slightly to the right of the paper. As you look at the egg on the table, where is the light source coming from that is casting the shadow on the egg? What is the quality of the light - is it a hard light that makes real sharp shadows or is it a soft light that will create softer, more gradual, shadows? In the egg photo on this page, the light is a soft light source. But you knew that, right? Make a small dot on your paper in the area of where your light source is. This is to remind you where your light source is coming from.

How to shade the egg

Now we're going to shade the sphere (actually, it's probably more oval). Look at the egg and note the shadows. Do you see the shadows, the midtones and the highlights? The highlight may be pretty diffuse because an egg isn't a completely smooth and shiny surface. Start by lightly shading the entire egg, graying it. Try and use long strokes that go from one edge to the other. If you use a bunch of short strokes, you'll probably get many different tones rather than one smooth one. This is your midtone.

As you look at the shadow on the egg do you see a sliver of light down near the base of the egg? That's some reflected light from the table bouncing back onto the egg. If you have a dark desk you may not see this reflected light because a dark table isn't going to reflect light. To draw this spot of reflected light just don't shade so hard in that area.

The "shadow shapes" on the egg

An easy way to create shading is to look for the shapes that the shadows and highlights create, then draw these shapes as toned areas on your drawing. What I mean is this: on the egg, the highlight creates a pretty round shape, and the major shadow creates a sort of a crescent shape. Look for these shadow shapes, and since they don't really remind your logical mind of anything, they should be fairly easy to draw. I wouldn't recommend actually drawing these shadow shapes, like I did in the example, but just look for them and try and mentally see them on your drawing. Now, go ahead and shade in the shadow on the egg. Your shadow should be slightly curved to wrap around the spherical shape of the egg. You don't even have to pick up your pencil, just keep the movement going but let up on the pressure on the pencil to get a lighter shade for midtone and press harder for shadow. Now where you see the highlight on the egg, take your eraser and erase out that spot on your drawing. There's your highlight. Now, to make it very realistic, draw the cast shadow. Lightly draw the contour of the cast shadow, then lightly shade it in with a pretty even tone. That's pretty easy, huh? That's all shading is: quick back and forth movements laying down different amounts of graphite depending on what tone you want to achieve.

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