Beginning Drawing Lesson 3 – Pencil Line and Tone

(Click HERE to download for printing)


Let’s start lesson 3 with a review of the elements of art for the visual arts…

What Are the Visual Arts?

These would include drawing, painting, sculpture, collage, mosaics…  you get the idea.

There are seven elements used in the creation of a visual art…  line, value, color, shape, space, form, and texture.

The first element of art that we have explored is line.  A line is an element of art that refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point.

Today we want to add the second element of art… value.  Value is an element of art that refers to the lightness or darkness of a tone.  We are not yet ready to explore color yet, so for now, we will just focus on using tone.

Using tones of different values adds depth, and dimension to your drawings.  If your artwork is all shaded in the same tone, it becomes “muddy”… it just all runs together… no contrast to make things stand out.


Using Tone In Your Drawings

What is tone in a drawing?

Tone is shading… it could be pencil, ink, charcoal, chalk, or graphite shading.  A tone could even be color shading, as well, but we are going to focus on black and white media at this time… specifically, pencil.

So, the values would be black, white, and different shades of gray.  Black and dark grays would be dark values.  White and different shades of light gray would be light values.


Pencil Shading Worksheet

The purpose of this exercise is to lay out six different values of shades or tones.  Using your pencils, shade each of the squares with the appropriate pencil shading… the values should include light, medium light, medium, medium dark, dark, and black.

Of course, white would be no shading at all… just the white paper.  And black would be the absolute darkest shade you could get with your darkest pencil.

Your drawing pencils are made with either hard leads, the “H” pencils, and soft leads, the “B” pencils.

Hard leads are the lightest values… the higher the number, the harder the lead, which result in the lightest shades.  So a 6H lead pencil would be lighter than a 2H pencil.

Soft lead pencils are the darkest values… the higher numbers are the softer leads which result in the darkest shades.  So a 6B lead pencil would be darker than a 2B pencil.

In the middle you will find two leads that are medium… the “F” and “HB” leads.  The HB pencil is basically equal to your #2 lead writing pencil.

You can do an entire drawing with your regular writing pencil… but, by adding the different types of drawing pencils, 9H through 9B, you create much more values, and more variety and interest in your drawing.

Another tool that you will find most useful is the blending stump, or tortillion.

[From this point on, I will call both tools “stumps”… just know that you can use either a stump or a tortillion.  In fact, I prefer to use a tortillion… but I still call them “stumps”.]

The purpose of using a stump is to blend and smooth out your shading.

I usually use two stumps… one for blending the “H” lead pencils, and one for the “B” lead pencils.  If your stump gets “dirty” with lots of pencil on it, it can even be used as a drawing tool all by itself… very useful for making distant trees and foliage.


Here is an example of the first part of the shading worksheet…

Pencil Shading Worksheet Part 1

Make sure that the shading values in each box is distinct and different… clean up your shaded areas if you happen to get outside of the boxes like I did.

The next part of the worksheet is to make your shading values gradually change from dark to light, or white to black.  Here is an example…

Pencil Shading Worksheet Part 2

Again, clean up your shading if you get outside of the boxes.  I used the same six pencils as I used in the first part of the exercise… but, I blended the areas with a stump so you can’t really see where one pencil stops and the next begins.



The first assignment, which we have already referred to is the Pencil Shading Worksheet.  Here is the link to download the worksheet…

After finishing the worksheet, I want you to then complete a pencil line and tone drawing.

Think of it this way…  do a contour drawing first, and then add pencil shading… your artwork should exhibit at least three different values of pencil shading, plus white.  Follow the steps listed below…

  1. Sketching lightly, lay out the basic shapes of the subject.
  2. Continue the drawing by refining the contours of the subject.
  3. Use pencil to develop tone (shading)… try to include at least three different values of pencil shading.
  4. Blend the pencil shading with a blending stump or tortillion.
  5. Darken your contour lines with pencil.
  6. Clean up any unwanted construction lines with white eraser.


Here is the basic shapes for my drawing…


Here is my finished drawing…