During Week 2 of Unit 2 (Shading and Form) of my Complete Drawing Certificate Course I learned about the basic theory of light and shade. I actually produced my work during the evenings in my car as I was away, attending the Patchings Art Festival 2014.

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

Unit Two: Shading and Form: Week two

The primary goal of  this module is to gain an understanding of light and shade in art, and how to make sense of all the different values that can occur on and around an object when light shines on it.

Using a photograph of a cone lit from the side as an example the module begins by explaining full light, shadow edges, gradual transitions, half tone areas, the cast shadow areas, and finally reflected light areas.

During the Construction Drawing section of this course we learned about using basic, flattened forms of shapes such as the square, circle, and a triangle to create a drawing . This week we move into the world of 3D as we are taught how to draw and shade a cube, sphere, cone and a cylinder.

Exercises: Drawing and shading a cube, a sphere, a cone and a cylinder

Theory of light and shade, cube, sphere, cone, cylinder

Click to enlarge

All four exercises opened with full instructions on the steps required to transfer the outline drawings to our paper, the how to examine each 3D form and recognise where the light is coming from, how the light interacts with the object, and the effect the object has on it’s surrounding, and finally how the lighting on the surroundings can impact the object. I know it all sounds a bit complicated, but the course is written very clearly and takes you through the process step by step.

I began by creating a value scale at the top of the page to use as a reference as I worked, I then worked my way through all four exercises to draw and shade each of the forms. Take a look at the image opposite to see the results.

Feedback from Cindy

Dear Ian,


Feedback on theory of light and shade, cube, sphere, cone, cylinder

Click to enlarge

Well done on a fantastic first week of your unit three shade course. I am really excited to see this work because its obvious that you have some natural ability. I am also impressed with your dedication to this course. Because you are working methodically and consistently, bout brain pathways appear to be developing well and you are completing your exercises at a high level. Your smooth shading technique is very good and your ability to compare various levels of light and shade is excellent. These are two of the most important ingredients needed to be able to create a realistic likeness to the subject.

The next thing we must work on is making sure that you correctly shade the right shapes of the various highlights and shadows and position those shapes in the correct places.

So there is a multitude of things going on for you in this unit of the course. It’s a huge step upwards from unit one, but you will do great if you just work at mending any skill gaps as they appear. It is my role to help you by discovering those skill gaps then advising you on what you need to do differently. So I have some suggestions for you to improve these drawings and its important that you make these changes then return your work to me for further commenting.

Please see the image attached and note the corresponding letters of the Alphabet with the letters and text below.

A: Your level six tone is excellent, however there is not enough difference between the level 3 and 4 so you need to darken the level 4. There is too much difference between the level 5 and 6 so you need to add more graphite to the level 5. Use your 4B pencil at first, then a little bit of the HB over the top just to fill in more of the white of paper. The HB is able to get deeper into the paper than the 4B because the particles are smaller and finer in the HB pencil than the 4B and they can therefore get down into the little dips and furrows of the paper. When the paper doesn’t have enough graphite it becomes speckled. Afterwards you will be learning how to blend using a stump or q-tip so then it will be easier to create smoother images, however, its so important that you first know how to position the five areas of light and shade (before learning how to blend).

B: The great thing about what you have done here with this edge is that you have gradually travelled lighter until the edge almost disappears. You needed to do the same with the other shapes at letter G and I.

C: There are few strange markings within the smooth shading area and these could have been caused by several different factors; either you were shading on a rough surface with an area of the surface protruding, or you have drawn this in using the tip of your pencil accidentally. Maybe you can explain these lines in here.

D: We really need a very crisp hard edge along here; you can use the tip of your HB pencil to reinforce this edge making it really neat and hard.

E: This area needs to be a level 5 tone, at the moment it is about a level 4.

F: Try to bring this beautiful soft gradation up a bit closer to the full light area.

G: mentioned above.

H: The shadow edge is missing here; make sure that you discover and apply the shadow edge which appears in all rounded form objects. It is a line that follows the shape of the form, it also becomes lighter towards the base of this object in this instance. The same as for letter J. Overall, fantastic work here Ian, I look forward to your changes.



Some highly constructive feedback from Cindy there, and loved her advice about using a lighter grade pencil like an HB to achieve a darker black, because the particles of graphite are smaller. It’s the sharing of expertise like that that makes this one of the best drawing courses on the internet where you can learn to draw online.

Coming up

Next week I shall be learning about the value map, which will help me to concentrate on the shading process itself rather than having to continually work out where to place each level of tone. That module will conclude by bringing together everything I’ve learned so far to complete a finished drawing a brushed aluminum kettle – I can’t wait! Please follow my Drawing Journey to see how I get on 🙂

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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