This week in the Complete Drawing Certificate Course everything learned in the previous weeks modules was cleverly brought together into one exercise where I learned about creating a value map. The value map is an extremely clever device that helps you to concentrate on the shading process itself rather than having to continually work out where to place each level of tone in your drawing.

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, and her feedback (in italics) is also included below.

Unit Two: Shading and Form: Week three

The primary goal of  this module is to learn about creating a value map when constructing your drawing, as it helps you to plan and place each level of tone used in your drawings.

Firstly the course takes you through a brief recap of what we’ve learned so far in the previous modules, then it explains how you can use your computer to manipulate your reference image to better see the blocks of tone and the outlines of their individual shapes. Then, carefully using very soft pencil strokes you can place the outlines of these shapes within the confines of your outline drawing and lay down the appropriate levels of tone in the correct areas of your drawing.

Exercise: Shaded drawing of a silver kettle

Silver Kettle Drawing

Click to enlarge

This weeks course notes included a pre-drawn outline drawing of the kettle which is used to transfer the image onto high quality drawing paper. This drawing also contained the basic outlines of the areas required for plotting out the value map, with instructions on how to build on this to create your own value map on your drawing.

The course then leads you through all of the stages required to build up the necessary tones in your drawing that will give it its 3D appearance. Although the objective was to learn how to map out the various values into blocks of tone, I chose to take things a step further to try to replicate the textures on the kettle, for example; the plastic handle; the plastic knob on the kettle lid; the chrome components; the brushed aluminium surface of the kettle body.

Unfortunately I made a mistake when transferring the image to my quality drawing paper and the outlines of the kettle lid were a little askew. It wasn’t until the end when I was laying down the really dark tones did I notice just how askew things were. In future I’ll make sure to correct any image transfer problems before I start working out my value map and laying down the really dark tones. Take a look at my image opposite to see my finished drawing.

Feedback from Cindy

Dear Ian,

Silver Kettle Drawing Feedback

Click to enlarge

I was so excited to see this drawing of your silver kettle because it shows me that you are right on track for working towards your major goal of an art exhibition in about 12 to 18 months time. You have demonstrated a very high level of drawing ability for this stage of the course.

I can see that you have also added more detail than what was expected or required from you in this exercise. Well done on an already outstanding effort here. There are only a few simple things you need to do in order to further improve this drawing.

A: These areas are stunningly beautiful! The full light glows and really gives this kettle a high gloss appearance, great work here.

B: In these three areas you needed to shade a darker area to indicate the shadow edge. The shadow edge is so important. It isn’t always visible in a photograph so we have to add it in. Without the shadow edge our drawings can appear more flat than they would otherwise.

The shadow edge is one of the five all important areas of highlight and shadow that must appear in your drawings or they will not appear quite so realistic and three-dimensional in illusion.

You will need to revisit your course notes from last week for a reminder on the importance of the shadow edge and when you are ready, please darken all of these areas. Remember that the shadow edge is the exact point where the light completely disappears from the form. It follows the shape of the form.

C: It’s so important to really understand how to draw an ellipse. That way even when your drawing slips during the transfer process, you can go back afterwards and fix it up yourself. If this problem happens for you again, a simple solution to the problem is to rule a horizontal line through the centre of the ellipses shape then draw the ellipse again. The centre of the ellipse would be on a slight angle for the lid areas but not on an angle for the large base ellipse. The shape of our ellipses plays an equally important role in the depiction of the rounded form. All the shading in the world cannot help us if the ellipses are not correctly drawn and visa versa.

D: This reflected light area is a little too light and the shape is a bit too linear. It needs to be darker and more of a gradation than a hard edge.

E: these areas need to be darker and the shadow beneath the kettle (rather than a hard line on the outer edge of the shadow) needs to be a soft gradation. The hard edge is correctly drawn here between the bottom of the kettle and the shadow, but from there it just needs to soften out into a gradation and to be a little bit wider an area of dark tone.

Overall, this is highly impressive work, well done Ian!



Some really useful feedback from Cindy there, especially where she drew my attention to making the shadow edge more definite to enhance the realism and create a more convincible three-dimensional illusion, as well as the softening of the shadow under the base of the kettle.

Coming up

Next week I shall be learning about how to realistically draw drapery, and I’ll also learn how to recognise and recreate the five different categories of  folds – 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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