How to draw shadows? Basics of drawing

Most art schools and courses in painting in the first place learn how to draw shadows. Build and draw primitive shapes such as cylinder, sphere, cone, cube – this is rather tedious and uninteresting. However, these tasks are the first step to understanding the shape and volume of geometric shapes and ability to portray her dark and light side – that is, to the ability to draw shadows with a pencil in stages. In the future art practice the ability to feel the light and dark sides will be a good tool in any drawing.

If you want to make the sketch clear and realistic, you need to give it volume. In this article we will tell you how to paint shadows with a pencil.

Light and shadow

Figures should be realistic and pleasing to the eye. Therefore, it is necessary to properly combine the light and shadow. This will give the pictures contrast, depth and sense of movement. learn to draw shadows, that the figures looked more alive, attractive and interesting?

a Little theory

have You ever thought about what allows us to see the shape of objects? Open secret: the clash of light and shadow. If we put the object on the table in the windowless room and turn off the light, no form, we will not see. If you cover the subject very bright lamp or spotlight, its form we, again, will not see. It allows you to see only the light, which collides with the shadow.
neither light Nor shadow does not fall on the objects at random. There are certain laws. They suggest, as a subject, its forms, will be the light and the shadow. And drawing a person needs to know these laws.


Elements of light and shade

In the drawing there are the following elements of chiaroscuro: highlight, light, shade, shadow, reflex, and drop shadow. Let's consider each of them in order.
Flare is called a spot light, which is convex or flat and glossy surface is obtained because of the strong illumination of the object.
Light – the surface of an object that is brightly illuminated.
Twilight is called a weak shadow. It occurs when the subject is illuminated not one, but multiple light sources. In addition, it is formed on the surfaces of which are turned at a slight angle to the light source.
Shadow – those subject areas that are lit poorly. Falling shadow is the one that casts the object to the plane which it occupies. And own – one that is unlit at his side.

Reflex is called a weak light spot, which is located in the region of the shadow. It is formed by rays that are reflected from other objects nearby.
Image of these light levels and allows the artist to depict clearly on the sheet the shape of the object, pass it the scope and degree of illumination.

And are these rules for computer graphics?

Yes. Computer graphics – this is the same drawing. So how to draw shadows in SAI or Photoshop, no different from their image on paper. The whole theory and all the rules that work for images on canvas or paper, efficient and for your computer.

Step 1: choosing the right materials

How to draw shadows with a pencil? You first need to select the correct pencil. Of course, you can draw shadows and charcoal, and sanguine, and gouache, and acrylic. But first, let's only pencil.
For the shadows use special pencils for drawing. They are sold in sets. A budget option can be found in any office supply store. There's a special paper for drawing: it is better to choose a more dense and hard.

There are many varieties of drawing pencils. Have mild (M, 2M, 3M, …, 8M, 9M) with stylus and solid (T, 2T, 3T, …, 8T, 9T). In sets of foreign manufacturers M is replaced by B, and T-H.
For the image of shadows you will have enough set of 3T, 2T, T, TM, M, 2M and 3M. To image light is better to use a solid pencil, and shadows – soft. So the picture will look more natural and it will be easier to draw.
let's Talk about paper. Drawing will not work too smooth leaves, those on which we print. It is not necessary to use a too hard paper. It will be difficult to draw shadows. It is best to use special sheets for painting, which are sold in a folder in stationery stores. How to draw shadows? First purchase the correct materials.

Step two: line art

How to draw shadows in the picture? First make a linear outline of what you want to draw. It is advisable to do this from life, but you can use a photo of the object. Most importantly, the object that you chose was still. In this case, you will have a lot of time to draw.
Carefully look into the home environment. You can draw flowers, clocks, kitchenware, garments. All of this is an object for sketches.

If you use a photo, it is better to print it in black and white. So you will more accurately portray the outline and shadow.

Step 3: achromatic color

How to draw shadows? When working with a pencil at your disposal all an achromatic color. They start with white and end with black, having in the middle a few shades of grey.
How to create achromatic scale? Draw a rectangle: this can be done on a separate sheet of paper or in a corner of your drawing. Divide this rectangle into five equal parts (can be more, but for start it will be enough 5), and then number them.
first square is white, and the latter – black. The pieces between them to fill in three different shades of gray, separated by the tone. As a result, you get something like a palette of your pencil: the first white rectangle, the second – light grey, third – medium gray, fourth – dark grey and the last – the darkest tone that can give a pencil.

Step 4: the theory of shadows

How to draw shadows? It is necessary to understand their nature.

Find the main light source. Observe that the brightest often are closest to the light, the dark – then, as the shadows fall against him. Special attention should be paid to reflections, as they may be the most striking place of the selected drawing object.

Step 5: select the method of hatching

How to draw shadows? With the help of shading. It is applied over a pencil sketch.
Select the way you will be stroking the outline, depending on the object, light source and pattern. types of shading shadows are many, and the most popular are straight, circular and cross.
is called a Direct drawing many parallel lines as close as possible to each other. This method is suitable for objects without texture, and for drawing hair.
For the circular hatch you need to draw many small circles. Through this hatch you can create interesting texture, scattering circles and adding lines. In addition, it is possible to better visualize the density of the object that is depicted, the positioning circles are close to each other.
Tinted object using drawing intersecting lines – cross hatching. This method is great for adding depth to the drawing.


Step 6: pen test

Try to make the shadows. Since your drawing is still at the initial stage, you should not make them too dark. So you can erase if need be. Draw, gradually filling the places necessary, and the brightest areas to leave white.
In the process of drawing compare with the object or its photo to be sure that you apply the eye shadow in the right place.

Step 7: patience and gradual work

Add shadow in several layers. They need to be gradually dimming, applying layer after layer. Between dark and light places must be significant contrast. Don't forget to use achromatic scale: drawing should not be in the same grey tones.
no need to Rush. The process of hatching of the shadows is reminiscent of the manifestation of the black-and-white film: it needs to happen gradually. Patience – your key to success and beautiful drawings.
more you deepen the shadows on the figure, the less noticeable will be its contours. And rightly so, because in real life almost nothing has a black outline. The same should be reflected in your drawing.

Step 8: shading

Now blend the shade on your pattern. You need to make them more realistic and smooth. Need to control the pressure so it was not too strong and too weak. Blend until then, until you're satisfied with the result.

If you have no shading, you can use a small piece of paper. The eraser will help you lighten those places that you accidentally slipped. It can be the highlight or contour that is not completely disappeared under the layer of the hatch.
most Importantly, remember that most draws people, including the most famous artists in the initial stage of career, made mistakes.

Tips and advice



  • Between your hand and the paper on which you draw, you can put a clean sheet of paper to print: so you can avoid the spots in the picture.
  • So as not to spoil the sketch and correct the errors, it is better to use a vinyl eraser. Erasers made of this material do not spoil the paper and well erase the pencil marks.
  • do Not use your finger to smudge the shading.
  • the difference between light and shadow more visible, you need to use good lighting.
  • Pencil it is best to keep at a smaller angle to the plane of the paper to draw the side of the stylus, not the tip. So the shade will be more natural.