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Pencil Drawing Exercises

Updated on June 19, 2013
Shaded pyramids and cones
Shaded pyramids and cones | Source
Shaded cubes and spheres
Shaded cubes and spheres | Source
Cross-hatching done with ink
Cross-hatching done with ink | Source
Close up of cross-hatching
Close up of cross-hatching | Source

There are many different ways to draw and shade with a pencil. You can use hard or soft lead pencils or colored pencils. I tend to use a medium soft lead, I like the way they blend the best. There are many different levels of pencil lead in art supplies to choose from. These are rated 9H (hardest and lightest in color, with more clay) through 9B (softest and blackest in color, with more lead). You can find an example of the scale easily online and see examples of the leads. The middle pencil grade is HB. If you are doing a picture with sharp edges, a harder lead would work best for you.

There are three basic types of shading with pencils. The first is blended shading, which most people use when they start drawing. Another type of shading is cross-hatching, which means using layers of lines in different directions to shade an object. This works very well with harder leaded pencils that allow you to see the lines sharply. It also works great with ink or markers. There is also a third type of shading called stippling. This method uses a series of dots marked on the paper in various closeness to make shadows darker or lighter. The more dots in a small space, the darker the shading and vice versa. Using a directed light on an object in the beginning makes it easy to see the lightness and darkness of the object.

In the classroom, I have sheets with objects already drawn on them in outline for the students. Then they don't need to worry about making a perfect square, triangle or circle. They can concentrate on the actual shading. As the students get older, I would have them draw the shape itself onto the paper and then shade it. You must always remember to try to keep a fairly light hand when shading an object. You can always make it darker with more pressure, lines or dots, but it is not always easy to make things lighter. A good eraser is a worthwhile investment, usually I have a white plastic eraser on hand for my pencil work. The theory of keeping a light hand rings especially true with markers and ink. You cannot just erase ink. This is something that each student needs to think about and be taught to remember. Generally, they try to shade with too heavy of a hand at first and have a hard time keeping the light area light enough. It takes some practice to get it right.

Once the students (or yourself) have mastered shading certain shapes, they can try their hand at a still life. The most important thing to remember when drawing is that each object is made up of simple shapes. Combining shapes is the basis for every object drawn. In other words, everything is based on a simple shape, you just build off of that shape with additional lines to make an individual realistic object. Breaking everything down to a simple shape makes drawing everything easier. It is probably the best piece of advice I can give. Hopefully, you will be able to use a couple of these techniques in your drawing or teaching and find some of the information helpful!

Perspective project with stippling done in ink
Perspective project with stippling done in ink | Source


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  • Mama Kim 8 profile image

    Sasha Kim 5 years ago

    Oh those practice spheres and pyramids take me back to freshman art class! Although we had to draw the corresponding shadow as well. ^_^ I miss art class. Thank you for the wonderful refresher and memories. Voted up!!

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    stoneyy 5 years ago from USA Pacific Northwest

    One good public domain book is 'Fun With A Pencil' by Andrew Loomis published in 1939. It can be found in a few places online for download.

    I'm starting to do more drawing and sketching myself. Its sorely needed.

  • amberld profile image

    Amber Dahnke 5 years ago from New Glarus, WI

    Thank you for checking out the hub! I am very glad you find it useful. The great thing about shading is that you can always get better at it, just takes a little practice. When I did the drawing sheet, I realized how out of practice I am. I need to brush up myself. Writing this hub definitely helped me remember how to teach it better! Am so glad you liked it, too!

  • Helena Ricketts profile image

    Helena Ricketts 5 years ago from Indiana

    I really like this hub. Very informative. Shading is something that I'm not really all that great at. Voted up and useful! Thanks for sharing this.