Monday, 23 April 2012

Art Class Challenge: Step by Step Exercise in Shading a Sphere

An ideal art exercise for beginners on shading technique, the budding artist cannot fail to get satisfactory results by following this step by step drawing demo to improve drawing skills. See my video clip on this great shading technique.

Perfect Shading Technique

Shading does not always come easily for some. The key is to select subject matter that enables the practice of pure shading without having to worry about the linear aspect of the subject matter. For this reason, the object concerned is a hypothetical sphere. All that is required is decent quality sketching paper (A4 or A5), a soft pencil: HB to 2B. An eraser, ruler and a circular objet that can be used a stencil. Bottle tops, large coins or a small saucer can be used. Dispense if you are confident in drawing a circular shape with accuracy freehand.

Master Class in Shading Method

Remember to start light and work darker as the drawing progresses. Don’t’ make dark lines first off or erasing a mistake may cause damage to the surface of the paper. Work progressively darker in steady increments. Don’t use the nib of the pencil or it will create unwanted lines within the shading area. Hold the pencil around 45 degrees, allowing the graphite to contact the paper obliquely. Move it in small, circular movements. Not perpendicular, (horizontally or vertically). Work over and over the area eradicating unwanted steep tonal increments.

Flat Shading with a Pencil

Follow this guide on how to shade the background to a simple object. The illustration provides a simplified view.

1 Roughly in the centre of the page, draw a circle. On either side, faintly draw a horizontal line to represent a resting surface. Use a ruler if necessary.

2 Very faintly, draw a small circular shape near the top right of the sphere. This is to represent the highlight. Be careful not to apply shading there when it comes to shading the sphere.

3 To the left of the sphere, roughly three-quarters of its width, across, draw a very faint ‘C’ shape to echo the contour the sphere.

4 with the soft pencil, shade the background to the sphere, aiming for a pale grey tone. Move the nib of the pencil in all directions, eradicating unwanted lines.

5 Shade the tabletop a little paler than the background described in step 4.

Step by Step Demo on Shading

Now it is time to shade the sphere itself. This will involve gradating the tone from light to dark. 6 Begin by shading faintly over the sphere, avoiding the circular highlight shape described in step 2. Aim this shading to be as light as possible at first.

7 Now working from the ‘C’ shape described in step 3, shade a little darker here, tapering off to either side, aiming for a very fuzzy ‘C’ shape.

8 Repeat step 7 beginning a little darker this time. Like paint, pencil shading is best applied in layers, working a little darker each time. Apply less shading towards the highlight and the far left of the orb. This faintly paler area is to represent reflected light – light reflected back into shadow from a neighbouring bright surface. Reflected light is the key to making objects appear three-dimensional. Work in small circular strokes, aiming for a seamless finish.

Drawing Shadows Step by Step

Now draw a flattened ‘C’ shape extending from the left of the orb to represent the shadow cast over the tabletop. Again, start light, working progressively darker. Shade in this shadow, aiming for a slightly darker shade near the orb than further away. Practice this exercise as often as you wish. You don’t have to take visual resources with your. It can be done anywhere. Aim for smooth gradations within the orb, getting the tonal balances right.

This excerpt has been taken from my drawing art instruction book, Draw What You See Not What You Think You See by Rachel Shirley available on Kindle and hardback.

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