Last week in the Complete Drawing Certificate Course I was introduced to the five basic categories of folds found in drapery art, and had the opportunity to create a realistic drawing of a column fold.

This week I was given the opportunity to use the value map again, and to use a reference photograph to help me to draw and blend a hyper-realistic pencil drawing of a stone urn.

When reading the details about my progress below please don’t forget to click on the thumbnails by each section to see the cool drawings I created in more detail. My hyper-realistic drawings were submitted to Cindy, my course instructor at, and her feedback (in italics) is also included below.

Unit Two: Shading and Form: Week five

The primary goal of  this module is to build upon the experience learned from previous modules about understanding and analysing the light source, and how shape and form is defined by its highlights and shadows.

Exercise: Hyper-realistic pencil drawing of a stone urn

Hyper-realistic pencil drawing of a stone urn

Click to enlarge

This weeks exercise was broken down into a series of four easy to follow steps, which began with transferring the image in the module to my 300gsm Bockingford Hot Pressed watercolour paper which was kindly provided by @StCuthbertsMill

I then created the value map at the top of my page and lightly sketched out the tonal areas on my outline drawing of the little stone urn. The using a combination of HB 2B and 4B pencils I then gradually built up the different tonal areas.

Using a cotton bud and a small paper tissue I then gently teased and blended the different areas of tones together to create the shadows, midtones and highlights.

The final part of my drawing was to use my putty eraser to lift out the extreme highlights, and my 4B pencil to reinforce the darkest tones. Take a look at the image opposite to see my finished drawing.

Feedback from Cindy

Dear Ian,

Feedback on learning to draw a stone urn in pencil

Click to enlarge

Well done on creating this excellent drawing of the little Urn. I particularly love the way you have captured the light on this form. There are some great shadows in here and you have demonstrated an even deeper understanding of how to create the soft edge, hard edge and gradations. Well done!

There is room for improvement too. Learning to represent a three-dimensional image on a flat surface (the page) does take time to really sink in. Patience is required. I can see you have patience but are perhaps a wee bit more distracted than you could be.

A: This level of tone is more like a level 8 or 9 tone. To reach the level of photo realism drawing you will need to use a ten level value scale. But we will discuss that much later. Its best to learn with just six values here. So in this beginner level course we use just six values. You have depicted the perfect level 6 tone at letter B. Well done!

C: In these areas, you needed to achieve the same level of tone that you have achieved at letter B. The level 6 tone for this drawing.

D: The ellipse has crept out of shape a bit. Ellipses are really important. This urn is a slightly misshapen ellipse, however, yours is just a wee bit too flat in this area.

E: In these ‘rings’ that travel around the top of the stand of this urn, try to imagine them ‘wrapping around’ the pot, rather than as lines. At the moment they also travel downwards on a fairly strong angle. With man made objects such as this one, try to keep all of the general directions of ellipses parallel to one another and to the ground or surface the object is sitting upon.

F: Whenever we are shading something, its important to try to work out what exactly it is that we are shading. When we are working from photographs it can be hard to know exactly what the form is some times. You could try a number of things; imagine first of all what the shape would be. Then you could try to look at your notes on your computer screen and draw from the screen. This way you can zoom in, sharpen contrast of the image etc. Please see the extra image attached for a demonstration of this.

G: This is beautiful light here. Its great to see you have retained the white of the paper as your level one tone.

H: In these areas, the shadows are too dark. Shadows in the side of the full light area are not as dark as they are on the side that is in shadow. These need to be softened back a bit lighter.

Overall this is fantastic work, great shading but try not to loose your forms when you blend Ian, the shape of the form of the shadow and highlights is crucial to the success of the drawing. There are places where you have blended perhaps without still looking at the photo. Remember this rule; look 80% at the image or reference source that you are drawing from and only 20% at your own drawing.

Cheers, Cindy


Once again Cindy has magically pulled several new rabbits out of her hat with her awesome tips on how I can improve my observation, and hyper-realistic pencil drawing skills – Thanks Cindy!

This weeks project was really exciting and fun, because I got to use the exact same methods and techniques that I learned over the past two weeks of this course. This was a brilliant object to draw because there were lots of wonderful curves and some lovely gradations, hard edge areas and soft edges too, and I was able to fully utilise the range of the skills that I’ve been learning and developing since the start of this course.

Coming up

Over the next two weeks I shall be learning how to create a hyper-realistic drawing of an old leather shoe. I’ll be learning some new hyper-realistic drawing techniques where I’ll be introduced to embossing tools, and how these can be used to create the impression of creases in the leather – All very exciting!! Please follow my Drawing Journey to see how I get on as I continue to learn to draw hyper-realistic pencil drawings online 🙂

Next Steps

Please join me!

You too can learn the fundamental drawing techniques that Professional Artists use. Download the course notes here> The Complete Drawing Certificate Course 

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