Beginning Drawing Lesson 9 – Fully Shaded Pencil Drawing

colored pencils





(Click HERE to download this lesson  for printing)


[NOTE: This Lesson will take two weeks complete as it takes quite a bit of time to complete a fully shaded pencil drawing]


Think about the tools most artists use to do their first true pieces of artwork.

I’m not talking about coloring sheets or kids first pictures of their family.

I’m talking about doing true quality pieces of artwork…  do you think most artists start out with oil paints or pastels… or welded steel sculpture?

No!  Most every artist start their artistic endeavors with a pencil.

So now that we’ve set the groundwork with our artistic skills, let’s sharpen our skills even further with what I call a fully shaded pencil drawing.

Line and tone drawings are fun and can be quite good… but they can also be quite “cartoon-like” in appearance.  A fully shaded drawing can also contain line as an element, but they focus more on creating realistic, three-dimensional shading with the use of gradation shading and texture.


Elements of Visual Art Review

Before we proceed, let’s have a quick review of the four visual arts elements we have discovered so far…

  • Line– An element of art that refers to the continuous mark made on some surface by a moving point.
  • Value– An element of art that refers to the lightness or darkness of a hue or tone.
  • Shape– An element of art referring to a two-dimensional area clearly set off by one or more of the other visual elements such as color, value, line, texture, and space.
  • Color– An element of art made up of three qualities: hue, intensity, and value.

The next two visual art elements can really make your drawing “pop” out with realism… looking so real you could reach out and touch.


Creating Textures

The fifth visual arts element is called “texture”…  

Texture is the element of art that refers to the way things feel, or look as if they might feel, if touched.

Texture really adds realism to your drawings… for example, making the animals fur look like real hair… striving to create tree bark that really looks rough… creating the “shiny” look of a new car or the reflection of water.

This is not always easy… it takes keen observation by the artist… and a lot of practice.


Adding Form…

Form is the sixth visual art element.  Form usually refers to the shapes of a three-dimensional artwork… like sculpture.

But, like texture, we can make our drawings seem to have a three-dimensional quality with our shading…

For example, here is a shaded circle.  This is h

ow you would create the drawing using only line and tone…

shaded circle

When the artist uses gradation shading, creating several different values of light and dark, a much more realistic version of the drawing can be achieved… like this:

shaded sphere

The difference is quite striking… one is flat and definitely “cartoon-like”.  The other looks as if you could pick it up right off the page.  It has depth… it looks solid.

Even though you know that the drawing is flat and two-dimensional… after all it is drawn on a sheet of paper.


Drawing the Sphere Worksheet

Before we proceed on our assignment of creating a fully shaded pencil drawing, let’s check out this “drawing the sphere” worksheet…

shaded sphere 2

Using your pencil and blending stump, do your best to create a pencil drawing that has both “depth” and “form”.

Look at the different areas of shading such as the “core shadow” and the “highlight”.  You can transfer the principles of this exercise to any three-dimensional object to make it appear as real as this sphere.

Click HERE To Download the “Drawing The Sphere Worksheet…



The assignment for this week is to complete a fully shaded pencil drawing on “stipple texture” drawing paper.

The stipple paper will add additional quality to your drawing… a small dot pattern in the shading.

We will first work on sketching your drawing on a plain sheet of white, light weight paper… like copy paper.  Why?  You don’t want a lot of the “erasing” marks or “indentations” in the paper caused by making corrections as you work out your basic shapes sketch.  Draw large… fill your paper.  The sketching paper is the same size as your final “stipple” paper.  If you don’t want your drawing that large we can cut your paper down so you will have two pieces of the very expensive drawing paper to work with.

After you have laid out your basic drawing and you have it just as you want it, you will transfer your sketch to the final drawing sheet.  In other words, you will be tracing your sketch onto your “stippled” drawing paper… and I said tracing YOUR sketch.


Transferring Your Sketch

After your basic sketch is ready, turn your paper over and cover the back of the sheet with graphite.  This can be done using a regular pencil.  But it is much quicker to use a graphite stick, shading with the stick laid on its side.

You don’t have to overdo it… cover it well, but it doesn’t have to be “black” with graphite shading.  Also, you only need graphite where your actual drawing is located.

Next, center your sketch on your final sheet of drawing paper… be careful NOT to slide it around much as the graphite will “smear” all over your clean sheet of drawing paper.

Using a hard lead pencil (2H or higher) trace over your sketch lines… be sure not to miss any.  If you want you can use a little “blue” masking tape to secure it to the table… you don’t want it to slide, remember.  Take your time doing this… ANY line you draw will be transferred.  You don’t want to put any unwanted, misdrawn lines on your final paper that will have to be erased.


Complete Your Drawing

You have spent a lot of time creating the sketch for your drawing…  but now is where the real work begins.

First of all, the media in a pencil drawing is “graphite”.  Graphite comes in three forms… in pencils, in graphite sticks, and in powder form.

Begin shading your drawing by working from light to dark.  If you get an area too dark, it is very hard to lighten…  but light areas can always be darkened.

Place a sheet of paper under your hand as you work… this will help prevent the pencil from smearing as you move your hand from one area to another as you work around the drawing.

Remember that you have a lot of tools at your disposal.  The “H” lead pencils produce lighter shades, and the “B” lead pencils darker.  Many times, a dirty blending stump can be used to create soft textures like clouds or distant grass and foliage.  (Once again, I forgot how to spell foliage… had to look it up… lol)

A sheet of paper towel can also be used to blend your pencil tones.  A kneaded eraser can be shaped to erase or light pencil tones.  Your fingers can also be used to blend pencil shading… just be sure your hands are clean and not oily with  hand lotion.

You can take an exacto knife and trim a white magic rub eraser to a very sharp edge to lighten or erase areas of shading… great for creating blades of grass, hair, or fur.

As I mentioned above, graphite comes in many forms…  I have seen artists use graphite powder to create some very unique effects in their drawings.  Warning!  Test this on another practice sheet first… you don’t want to ruin your drawing while you experiment with a new process.

Graphite also comes in stick for as you have seen in the previous step.

Observe any textured areas… think about how you can create the appearance of that texture with your pencil.  It may work best to practice creating the texture on another sheet of paper until you get it right.

Rock texture can be duplicated by actually placing your drawing on a textured wall or a sidewalk, and then shading with your pencil or graphite stick.  This is called a “rubbing”.

Of course, by using a sharp pencil lead and keen observation, you can recreate most any texture as well.

Remember also the sphere shading exercise…  it is very useful in figuring out how to shade any object and develop three dimensional form within your work.  Often it is best to create the form first, and then lay the texture over it.

I had a drawing that I did in college that took me ten weeks to complete working two days a week, two hours each day.  That’s 40 hours total!  Another drawing took four weeks.  Even simpler subjects take a lot of time as well.

So, recognize that it will take time to complete your drawing.

Now that’s a lot of ideas to consider.  Don’t overdo it… use a few of these ideas as needed to create your drawing.  Don’t try to incorporate all of these tips into one drawing…  it is VERY possible to overwork your drawing!  Too much shading can make your work “muddy”… too much shading…  no light areas…  no contrast… everything is just one shade of gray.

Your drawing could also look pale… whitewashed…  no real darks… no contrast… everything is just too light.

Search for the “happy medium”…  lights… darks… mid-tones… textures… smooth gradations…  simply find what works for your project.


Final Touches

After you have reached a stopping point, put your work away for a day or two.  Then, get it back out.  A fresh look can work wonders.

Next, show your artwork to someone else.  Don’t be shy about this… sometimes a fresh eye can work wonders, also.

Show it to your family members, your teacher, and your fellow art students.

And if someone shows you their drawing for your opinion, be honest.

Yes…  if you see something that needs correction… share it.

But, also, be sure to look for the drawing’s strengths as well.  Don’t “sugar coat” your critique… but don’t always be “Negative Nellie” as well.

After everyone agrees that your artwork is complete, it will need to be sprayed with a clear coating called “workable fixative”.

As we have already mentioned, graphite is not permanent, and it will “smear” easily.

Spraying it with fixative will help it be more permanent.

By the way, “workable” fixative means that it can be worked on in the future.

Who knows…  you may see something new that needs to be fixed weeks later.