How to draw an ear from the front

thumbnail-how-to-draw-an-ear-front-324x235Learn how to draw an ear from the front in 11 easy steps!

HB, 2B and 4B pencils
Canson Bristol Paper
– Ruler or Straight Edge (Optional)
Blending Stump
Kneaded Eraser

Step 1: Draw an Ear Shape

how-to-draw-an-ear-from-the-front-step-1-rfaUsing a blunt HB pencil, draw a narrow ear shape. If you want to draw ears that stick out of the head a lot more, draw your ear wider.

Then, measure the length of your drawing and create a ruler beside it. Draw 3 lines through the ruler, breaking it into 4 equal sections. I’m labeling the 3 lines A, B and C so I can refer to them easily.

Step 2: Draw a Large Hook Shape

Draw a hook shape that starts from line B and ends at line A.

Step 3: Add the Tragus

In one continuous stroke starting from line B, draw the tragus (the small flap in front of the ear canal) and end your stroke with a small hook that rests above line C.

Step 4: Create a Large Fold

Add a curve to the far right which starts at the top of the ear and ends below line C. Leave a fair amount of space for the earlobe.

Step 5: Add a Small Hook Shape

how-to-draw-an-ear-from-the-front-step-5-rfaBetween the 2 lines you just drew, draw a large hook shape that sits on line C. This is the anti-tragus.

Step 6:

how-to-draw-an-ear-from-the-front-step-6-rfaUse the shadow lining technique to draw a curve in the center of the ear. Try not to make it parallel to the curve drawn in step 4.

Step 7: Prepare to Shade

Okay, last one before we shade!

how-to-draw-an-ear-from-the-front-step-7Erase the ruler and horizontal lines.

To keep your edges sharp and clean when you shade, use a sharp 4B pencil to re-outline areas of the ear that cast the darkest shadows – Areas such as deep valleys, major folds and overhang.

Your outlines should not be too dark because you don’t want them to show through after you shade.

Step 8: Add the Darkest Shadows


If your pencil is still sharp, use a scrap piece of paper to make it blunt and then draw your shadows.

Step 9: Add a Light Layer of Graphite


Use a blunt HB pencil to shade an even layer of graphite across the entire ear. If you want bright white highlights, don’t shade over them.

Step 10: Add the Midtones


Use a 2B pencil to add your mid-tones. Shade areas such as the opening of the ear, shallow valleys and slight folds.

Step 11: Blend the Graphite

how-to-draw-an-ear-from-the-front-step-11Use a blending stump to smooth out your shading. If your highlights are too dark, roll your kneaded eraser to a fine tip and dab some graphite away. If your edges are blurred, use a sharp pencil to redefine your edges and blend them lightly if needed.

I’ve gotten some requests for the left ear, so here are the steps for those of you struggling with the other side:

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How to shade an eyeball

how-to-shade-an-eyeball-step-5-rfaEvery now and then, I get questions about how to shade eyeballs and how to make them look round. It’s a little difficult to explain without pictures, so here’s a short and sweet step by step tutorial to answer that question :) Enjoy!




While you’re drawing the eye, keep the white part of the eyeball as clean as possible. We’re going to shade the entire eyeball later. This will bring your highlights out more because your highlights will be the lightest value in your drawing.

Step 1: Light Shading


Grab a blunt HB pencil and use the side of your lead to create large, blunt strokes on a scrap piece of paper. Use the exact same edge to shade an even layer of graphite across the eyeball without drawing over the iris. Contouring would be a suitable shading technique to use.

Step 2: Blend Carefully


Wrap a small piece of tissue paper around your finger and blend the eyeball in 2 separate sections. Do not touch any areas with dark shading or else you will smudge extra graphite onto the eyeball. Use very little pressure and use a new piece of tissue after every stroke.


Step 3: Shade Around the Iris


Once your shading is smooth, use your HB pencil to shade around the iris. The goal is to eliminate the harsh edge around the iris. Blend the graphite out if you need to.


Step 4: Shade the Eyelid Rims


Soften out your graphite where the skin touches the eyeball. This step is very subtle, but helps pull the skin and eyeball closer together. Compared to the previous image, this one looks like the top and bottom lids are actually touching the eyeball – snug fit.

Step 5: Add Subtle Shadows


Depending on where your light source is coming from (mine’s coming from the top), add subtle shadows using a blunt HB pencil. To make the eyeball look round, shade the far ends of the eyeball. Make sure your value transitions are very gradual.

Scroll up and compare the images from step 4 and 5. Notice how even the most subtle shadows can give the eyeball such a round shape. Just something to keep in mind when you shade.

Also, there’s an area of the eyeball near the tear duct that is slightly bumpy. So make sure to pay extra attention to that. However, you don’t want to bring too much attention to it, so try to keep it subtle.

Thanks to MargaritaM for reminding me to add a slideshow to this tutorial! Use the slideshow below to see all the steps and their subtle differences:

I hope this tutorial was helpful! Which steps helped you the most? I’d love to know :)

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How to draw eyebrows on paper

how to draw eyebrows
Hey guys! In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to draw realistic and subtle eyebrows. Learn how to draw eyebrows that compliment a drawing instead of sticking out like a sore thumb!

The structure of this tutorial will be similar to my previous one on eyelashes: examples with explanations and then application in a step by step format.



Stroke Quality

eyebrow-hair-qualityKeep your strokes fairly thin. I always try to keep the tip of my pencil as sharp as possible for each stroke. Once your pencil starts to become blunt, individual hairs will blur together and eventually disappear as they blend in with each other.

Stroke Direction and Curve

I see a lot of people draw eyebrows like this:


While that’s great for cartoons and manga, it’s quite unrealistic.


We want to draw hairs that point in 3 main directions: Up, down and from left to right (or right to left if you’re drawing the left eyebrow).

eyebrow-hair-directionEyebrow hairs also come in a variety of shapes such as the ones below. Find the right combination/grouping to get your desired look or just go with the flow.



Stroke Length

Eyebrow hairs are usually shorter at the end of the eyebrow and as a rule of thumb, the lighter the hair, the shorter it is.

Root Placement

Slow down and carefully plan the placement of each stroke you make and try to make them as unpredictable as possible. Avoid predictable patterns like the ones below.


Random = natural

Do not make the mistake of drawing a single row of hairs in an attempt to cover the entire eyebrow. More on that later.


Eyebrow Shape, Length and Position

With your fingers, put some pressure along your eyebrow and move the skin up and down. You’ll find that your eyebrows grow along the brow bone. The brow bone is the protruding area directly above your eye socket. When you don’t know where to draw an eyebrow, visualize the eye socket around the eye.

Eyebrow length varies from person to person, but the average length is only slightly longer than the length of the eye itself.

As for the shape, there’s no one correct way. Just play around with different shapes while following along the brow bone.


How to Draw Eyebrows Step by Step

If you want to draw clean, sharp eyebrows, shade the area above the eye and blend it out first before you start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. This step eliminates the amount of shading and blending you’ll have to do later on.

Step 1: Shadowline the eyebrow

With an H pencil, use my shadow-lining technique to outline the shape you want the eyebrow to have. If you use this technique, your outlines will blend in perfectly when you draw the actual hairs later.

Do not outline it like the image below. It will be very obvious in your final drawing and a complete pain to erase!



Step 2: Draw first row of hairs

how to draw eyebrows
We’re going to draw hairs going in several different directions. Using a sharp 2B pencil, let’s start by drawing a single row on the bottom and go from left to right. These hairs grow in the upward direction and start pointing downward near the end of the eyebrow.


Step 3: Add a second row

how to draw eyebrows
Now, add an additional row or two. Remember to draw hairs at the beginning of the eyebrow longer than ones at the end.


Step 4: Add unique hairs


Make slight changes in the hair direction and amount of curve. Join some hairs together by their ends as well.

I’m not adding any more hairs on the left side of the eyebrow because I don’t know if that will be enough yet. I’ll be able to decide later when I draw the upper portion of the eyebrow.

It’s up to you how you want to design your eyebrow, so you can add more hair if you want.

Step 5: Darken overlapping hairs

how to draw eyebrows

In this step, I didn’t add any new hairs. I just looked at which ones were overlapping and used the sharpest edge of my 4B mechanical pencil to darken those areas. This will make the eyebrow look more interesting.



Step 6: Draw a light row of hairs at the top


Time to draw the upper portion of hair. I usually draw the first row really thin/light and then increase the thickness/darkness with the following rows.

Your ultimate goal is to get a smooth transition from upward-pointing to downward-pointing hairs.


Step 7: Merge hairs with bottom rows


Add an additional layer or two. As the ends of the hairs start coming in contact with the upward-pointing hairs, allow your strokes to slowly merge into the same direction.


Step 8: Fill the middle portion


When filling in the middle portion of the eyebrow, focus on drawing hairs that flow in the direction that seems most natural to you.

If you used the shadow lining technique for your outline in step 1, you will notice that it has blended in well and there should be no need to erase it.

Step 9: Touchups


If you see any inconsistencies in value or you think you’d like a darker eyebrow, go over some hairs with a sharp 4B mechanical pencil and darken overlapping hairs or individual hairs that you want to stand out more than others.

Be very careful not to overdo it. It’s hard to erase thin lines. If you do need to erase any hairs or make them appear lighter, pinch your kneaded eraser until it looks as sharp as a knife and then press it directly on the hair to lift a layer of graphite away.

Step 10: Add light shadows on the eyebrow


Can you spot what’s different in the image for this step? I’ve added shadows in the forest of hair. If you shaded the skin as light as mine, use a 2B pencil to shade over your entire eyebrow. Don’t press too hard.

At this point, the eyebrow still looks like it’s sort of pasted onto the face. We’ll fix this in the next step.

Step 11: Add light shadows around the eyebrow

how to draw eyebrows

Okay, last step! We just added some shadows inside the boundary of the eyebrow. Now it’s time to draw shadows around the outside. If your light source is coming from the top (like mine), draw your shadows directly below the eyebrow and/or sides only. Subtle shadows will do. Avoid hard edges!

If you think it still looks pasted on, use a sharp H pencil to draw really light hairs around the top and side.

And that’s it!

I just want to send a big thank you out to all of you guys who take the time to leave a comment or connect with me via email or Facebook. Your kind messages remind me that what I do makes a difference and helps give me the motivation to keep going! You guys are awesome! :)

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How to draw eyelashes

How to draw eyelashes step 8Hey guys! Today, I’m going to show you how to draw eyelashes and also how not to draw them. The format of this tutorial will be: examples with explanations and then application in step by step format. Enjoy!


Mechanical Pencil with 4B lead
H and HB Pencils
Canson Bristol Paper
Kneaded Rubber Eraser

Stroke Quality

Drawing random, quick strokes won’t result natural looking lashes. It’s very important to plan each stroke carefully. We’re just going to focus on natural lashes (no extensions and no mascara).

Eyelashes are thickest at the base and come to a point at the end. So you want to make sure to lift your pencil up swiftly at the end of each stroke. It’s hard to lift your pencil as you curve it. So practice lifting after the curve.


If the end of your stroke looks too blunt, that’s okay! Draw a pointy tip on the end of the hair using the sharpest side of your mechanical pencil. If there are any inconsistencies in value, pinch your kneaded eraser to a fine tip and dab some graphite away.


When you apply a lot of pressure, do your strokes look crooked? The method below may work better for you, because you might find it easier to draw smooth curves when using less pressure.

An eyelash does not need to be drawn in one stroke. If you have trouble drawing eyelashes with single strokes, use a sharp H pencil to lightly plan out the shape of the lash and then follow that guideline using a mechanical pencil with darker lead.drawing-eyelashes_multiple-strokes

If you’re doing this method, you may find it easier to flip the drawing around after the first step. I’m right handed and it feels a lot more natural for me to draw this upside down.



Eyelash Roots

Let’s talk about the roots. No matter what angle you’re drawing an eyelash, make sure each lash looks like it’s growing out properly. What do I mean?

Here’s an example of how to draw eyelashes correctly:

how to draw eyebrows correctly

If you look at the diagram on the left, the eyelashes grow in towards the opening of the eye to protect the eyeball from dust and debris. In the image on the right, the eyelashes clearly grow out in a similar direction.


Here’s an example of the incorrect way:


I’ve seen this done many times before. So I made sure to include it in the tutorial :) If you draw your eyelashes like the image on the right, the diagram on the left shows you how the roots would grow in reality. The diagram shows lashes growing away from the opening of the eye – a highly unnatural occurrence.

Eyelash Angle

Since the eyelid wraps around a curved object (the eyeball), you’ll need to draw a range of eyelashes at different angles. This is the thing that will make your drawing most realistic.
Practice drawing a range of eyelashes. Below are the 3 main ones.


Front facing, 3/4 facing and side facing

Types of Lashes

Try to introduce some randomness into your drawing to make it look even more realistic. Here are a few ideas you can use:


Vary the Length

Instead of drawing all your lashes the same length, come up with 3 different lengths and use them throughout.

  • Long lashes: Generally the same length. Use few of them, but make each one count.
  • Medium lashes: The bulk of it all
  • Short lashes: These are generally the thinnest and lightest. Can be used as fillers.


Grouping and Overlappingdrawing-eyelashes_grouping

Group some lashes together by their ends. This works very well with long lashes that look a little odd on their own.

eyelash-overlappingOverlap lashes that look boring on their own, or just to make things look a little more interesting.


Vary Line Thickness

Vary the pressure of your pencil to draw super light and thin eyelashes in random areas, but especially in areas closest to the tear duct. Don’t be afraid to draw thick lashes either.



How to Draw Eyelashes Step by Step

Let’s take all the information above and apply it to a drawing. Before we begin, draw an eye and finish all your shading and blending before you add the lashes on.



Step 1: Plan the hair direction

how to draw eyelashes step 1Figure out what angle the eye is facing you so you can apply the right amount of curvature to each eyelash stroke.

Using a sharp H pencil, lightly draw the front, side and/or the 3/4 facing lashes first. Then use your mechanical 4B pencil to go over those strokes with a much darker value.

Keep in mind that lower lashes are much thinner and therefore lighter than the upper ones.

For the next few steps, we’re going to fill in all the other eyelashes. This is going to be a lot of fun!!


Step 2: Fill lashes in by section

how to draw eyelashes step 2

It’s up to you where you want to start. I’m going from left to right.

Note: Use a clean sheet of paper to place under your hand so you don’t smear your drawing. We need these lashes to look nice and sharp!

Use your H pencil to draw light lashes so you can use them as general guidelines. What we want to do here is we want to draw lashes that gradually transition from side facing or 3/4 facing lashes to front facing lashes. It doesn’t have to be a perfect transition – randomness will make it look more realistic.


Step 3: Add unique lashes

how to draw eyelashes step 3

Continue to draw more lashes.  Make some of them overlap each other and play around with the length. Drawing lashes that are all the same length will look artificial.


Step 4: Spread lashes out

how to draw eyelashes step 4

Spread those eyelashes out. It looks sparse right now, but don’t worry about it. We’re going to fill in the gaps later!

For now, focus on the overall shape you’re giving the eye by adjusting the length/reach of every lash. My lashes follow the general shape of the upper eyelid fold. I like the shape that they have now. So I’ll leave it at that and move on to the next step.


Step 5: Introduce a new layer

how to draw eyelashes step 5

Eyelashes don’t just grow in a single, boring row. On the upper eyelid, I’m adding an additional row of lashes beneath the ones I just drew. Layering will make the drawing look more detailed and realistic.


Step 6: Add random lashes

how to draw eyelashes step 6

Having fun?! I am! This part looks complicated, but all I did was add additional hairs beside existing lashes. Some are extra curvy, others might be super thin and barely noticeable (drawn with a sharp HB pencil to maintain their lightness).

Step 7: Add some shading

how to draw eyelashes step 7

If you’re happy with the amount of eyelashes you’ve drawn, it’s time for some shading. Why? Because eyelashes have shadows of course!

I’ve shaded areas of the skin behind the top lashes, the area of skin below the bottom lashes, the right side of the eyeball and the right ledge of the bottom eyelid.

I also shaded around the base of each eyelash on the bottom lid to give the surface a more bumpy and realistic texture.


Step 8: Details! Add some reflections

How to draw eyelashes step 8

Add some subtle eyelash reflections in the eye and we’re all done!

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8 unique gifts for artists

Need some art gift ideas for the visual artist in your life? Here’s my top 12 list of affordable, awesome and unique gifts for adult artists. Some of these things I have and love, while others are on my personal wishlist.

1. Wacom Bamboo Spark

Transform any doodle or masterpiece from paper to digital ink like magic. The Bamboo Spark Pen is perfect for any artist that loves drawing on the go or simply loves working with pen and paper. It eliminates the need for a scanner because the artwork can be saved and uploaded to any device with bluetooth capabilities.

best-gifts-for-artists2. Monthly Art Subscription Box

Websites like SketchBox, ArtSnacks, Cratejoy and SmartArt offer monthly subscriptions on cool art-themed goody boxes delivered straight to your door every month. A great way to discover new art supplies and get those creative juices flowing!


3. Tracing Light Board

This is seriously one of the coolest things ever! If you know someone who likes drawing comics or manga, this light board is a clear winner! It has multiple brightness settings so you can trace almost anything you want. I don’t draw comics, but I’ve always wanted one!



4. Smudge Guard by Jeannie Lit

For graphic designers and the like, a smudge guard will help your hand glide smoothly across the the surface of your wacom tablet. Never worry about sweaty hands again!

For traditional artists who work with pencil and paper, it prevents the skin’s natural oils from transferring to your artwork. I use my smudge guard all the time and LOVE it! It reduces smudges significantly!


5. Adjustable Desktop Easel

Adjustable drawing boards are great for posture. Every artist needs one!

This one comes with a painting palette and a built in storage box for easy access to drawing or painting tools. It has a convenient handle on the side, so you can easily store it away when not in use or carry it outside for a day of landscape drawing or painting in the park.



6. Nomad FleX Paintbrush Stylus

The Nomad FleX is a flexible and soft stylus for tablets and smart phones designed to feel like a real paintbrush so you can paint without all the mess. Its fine tip prevents it from spreading out and gives you precision with each stroke.



8. Art Mannequins and Models

Adjustable mannequins are great study subjects for new artists to practice drawing different poses, and learn about proportions and shading. Aspiring comic or manga artists can use mannequins to model a wide array of poses for their characters.



Shading is a tricky skill to master and it really helps to study it using a tangible 3D object instead of a flat image on a computer screen. With a realistic model, you can study and practice your shading to perfection by applying various lighting angles and intensity levels.



I hope this list gave you some good present ideas! If you’re an artist and you own any of the items listed above, let us know what you think about it. Also, what’s on your wishlist?

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How to draw lips from the side

This tutorial has 3 examples for you to draw from: Overbite, Normal Bite and Underbite. When going through the tutorial, please pick only 1 example to follow instead of drawing all 3 lips at the same time.



How to Draw Lips from the Side:

Step 1: Choose top and bottom lip positioning

1-drawing-lips-from-the-sideThis first stroke will determine whether you will draw an overbite, normal bite or underbite.

Step 2: Choose the lip angle

2-draw-lips-from-the-sideThis second stroke will determine the thickness of the top and bottom lip and whether the corner of the mouth with angle up or down.

Step 3: Draw a triangle

3-how-to-draw-lips-from-the-sideTurn your sketch into a triangle. The longer your triangle is, the wider the lips will be.

Step 4: Draw the mouth’s corner

4-draw-lips-from-sideDraw the corner of the mouth. This can be a simple dot, bracket, raindrop shape, triangle etc.

Step 5: Draw the top lip


You can start with the top or bottom lip. For this tutorial, I’m starting with the top.

Draw a curve that starts at the top left corner of the triangle. This curve can roughly follow the shape of the triangle, jut out or be drawn well inside the boundaries. It’s all up to you.

Step 6: Complete the top lip

6-draw-side-lipsConnect the curve you just drew to the corner of the mouth. Avoid drawing a straight line across. It’s better to draw a slightly curved line than a completely straight one.

Step 7: Draw the bottom lip


To draw the bottom lip, start your stroke from the bottom left corner of the triangle and wrap it up until it touches the top lip.

Step 8: Draw the upper and lower lip

draw lips from the sideDraw the upper lip. Be careful not to extend your line too far. The upper lip should be roughly the same thickness as the top lip or more.

When drawing the lower lip/chin for underbites, make sure the curve is less pronounced. The bottom set of teeth push the bottom/lower lip forward, reducing a lot of curvature.

Step 9: Draw the rim of the top and bottom lip


Using your HB pencil with as little pressure as possible, draw the rims around each lip, connecting them to the corner of the mouth. Then erase your guidelines.

Step 10: Add contour lines


Time to shade! If you think your lines are too dark, use your kneaded eraser to pick up 1 layer of graphite from your drawing. Then use a sharp HB pencil to lay down your contour lines.

Step 11: Shade the lips


Start building up more contour lines using your HB, 2B, then 4B pencils.

Around the rim of each lip, soften your edges so they don’t appear too harsh.

Step 12: Shade the skin

how to draw lips from the side

For this tutorial, I used circulism to shade the skin around the lips. I used a blunt HB pencil and built up layers and layers of circles. Then used a 2B to shade darker areas.

how to draw lips from the side

I shaded areas such as the lower lip, cheek, corner of the mouth and skin directly under the nose a bit darker. If you still see a lot of white space, use your HB pencil to go over the skin with even more layers. Don’t press too hard or your circles will be very visible!

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How to draw lips from the 3/4 view

how to draw lips in the 3/4 view

Struggle with drawing lips in the 3/4 view? With this method, you’ll be drawing perfect lips every time!

Since my first lip tutorial was so successful, I decided to base this one off the same idea of drawing lips using a simple triangle. If you liked that one, you’ll enjoy this even more! (If you haven’t tried my first tutorial, I suggest you do that first before attempting this one. Click here).

You can apply what you learn in this tutorial to this one on drawing a face from the ¾ view.


Step 1: Draw a Cross and Triangle


Using an HB pencil, make a straight vertical line. Add another line going through it that is slightly angled.

Then, draw a triangle.

Step 2: Add a curve at the top

step-2-3_4-lipsMake a curve close to the top of the triangle. This is the cupid’s bow. The distance of the curve to the base of the triangle will determine how big/thick the lips will be.

Step 3: Draw guidelines for the opening of the mouth


Draw a long shallow curve halfway down the triangle. The length of this line will determine the width of your lips.

Since the triangle is facing towards our left, the left side of the lip should be less visible, so draw your curve shorter on the left side and longer on the right side of the vertical line.

Step 4: Draw the rim around the top lip


Finish the outer rim of the top lip by connecting the cupid’s bow to the predefined corners of the mouth.

Step 5: Finish the top lip


While staying inside the triangle, draw another curve that sits on the outline created in step 4. Depending on how much you bring this part forward (left) or back (right), you can end up with a strong overbite or underbite.

Complete this section by following along the rest of the outline.

Step 6: Draw the bottom lip


Draw the bottom lip by starting at the base of the triangle and then curving your line up on each side.

The curve drawn for the bottom lip does not need to touch the corners of the mouth.

If the bottom lip looks like it’s coming out too much, simply erase and position it more to the right.

When you’re done, erase all the guidelines.

Step 7: Add some contour lines


Shading time!

Use any realistic shading technique of your choice. For this example, I’m going to use the contouring method. It’s great for shading lips because the lines help to create realistic lip wrinkles/texture. The more curved your lines are, the more plump the lips will appear.

Step 8: Shade

With an HB pencil, use my Shadow-Lining technique to do a rough outline of areas you want to highlight or areas of shadow. Then, shade outside the Shadow Lined areas. Use an HB, then 2B and finally a 4B to build up depth in your drawing. It’s okay to shade into the areas you Shadow Lined or even change it up slightly as you go along.

If you want the lips to look very glossy, make your highlights as clean as possible and your shading less gradual.


Step 9: Blend it

step-9-how-to-draw-three-quarter-lipsUse a blending stump to smooth out your shading. Blend using the same motion your contour lines are flowing. Do not blend from light to dark.

Step 10: Touchups

If your highlights are too dark, pinch your kneaded eraser and mold it into the shape of a curve similar to your contour lines and press it along areas of the lip you want to lighten.

how to draw lips in the 3/4 view

Continue to lighten your highlights or even add softer graphite to darken areas such as the creases, corners of the mouth or shadows under the bottom lip.

Step 11: Optional

This step is completely optional. But I highly encourage it because it may take your artwork to a completely new level.

Depending on your preference, use your left or right hand to navigate your mouse down to the share buttons on this page and click on any social media platform to share this awesome tutorial with your friends!

If you enjoy my teaching style and want to see more tutorials on a regular basis, please share so I can continue to do what I do. Thank you for your support! :)

Wanna share your 3/4 lip drawings with me and other RFA readers? Submit your artwork via my facebook page and I’ll post it in the gallery!

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Here is your PDF download link:

Click here to download the PDF version of this tutorial :)


How many tries did it take you to successfully draw lips in the 3/4 view? What steps did you struggle with the most? Let me know in the comments below!

More lip tutorials:

Drawing lips from the side

Drawing lips from the front

Drawing a smile with teeth

How to draw lips from the 3/4 view Read More »

7 steps to draw noses from the 3/4 view

how to draw a nose from the 3/4 view

This tutorial is a little different than the usual. Each step has 3 options for you to draw from: They are all noses in the 3/4 view, but the first one is level to the eye, the second one is a view from above looking down and the last is from below looking up.

To help you learn faster, please draw only one each time you follow the tutorial, not all three at the same time.

Materials I used for this tutorial:

Step 1: Draw a 3D shape with trapezoid base

3/4 noseDecide on the angle you want to draw the nose. The slope of your 3D shape determines the height of the nose (how far it comes out of the face) and the width will determine the width of the nose.

Draw your outlines as light as possible using an HB pencil. I’m drawing them quite dark so you can see everything clearly.

Step 2: Add circles to the base

step-2-drawing-a-3_4-noseDraw two circles that are touching the far corners of this 3D shape (draw an extra circle for the third example. The circles should stick out of the bottom halfway.

Step 3: Draw the upper nose bridge

step-3-3_4-noseUsing a softer pencil such as a 2B, draw a curve at the top of the 3D shape to define the nose bridge and beginning of the brow bone. For a strong brow, exaggerate this curve more.

Step 4: Draw the nose’s tip and bridge

drawing a 3/4 nose

Draw the nose’s tip by following the shape of the main circle.

drawing a three quarter nose

Wrap your line up towards the bridge of the nose and give the tip a unique shape.


Connect that line to the top. It’s boring to follow the 3D shape exactly, so add some bumps and such to make the nose look more interesting.

Step 5: Outline the nostril wing

Draw a curve along the remaining circle(s) to make the nostril wing(s).

Step 6: Draw the nostril

drawing a nose from the 3/4 viewNot sure how big to draw the nostril? Use the circles and the base of the 3D shape as a general boundary.

I didn’t draw a nostril for the second nose because the nostril isn’t visible from this particular angle for this particular nose.

Step 7: Prepare for shading

3/4 nose drawing tutorial

In preparation for shading, draw a curvy line along the other side of the bridge that mirrors the bridge shape you’ve already defined from step 4.

three quarter nose

Lighten or completely erase any unneeded guidelines.

If your shading is very light or you’re afraid of any outlines showing through, use my shadow lining method.

After you’re comfortable with drawing a few noses, try skewing the 3D shape or experimenting with different circle sizes like the examples below:

how to draw uniquely shaped noses in 3/4 view

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Here is your PDF download link:

Click here to download the PDF version of this tutorial :)


More nose drawing tutorials:

Drawing noses from the side

Drawing noses from the front

7 steps to draw noses from the 3/4 view Read More »

How to make an artist website in 5 EASY steps

How to make an artist website in 5 stepsWant to set up an artist website without the headache?

Follow my step by step guide and get your website up and running today!

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to sign up to a hosting provider and get your website up and running. I’m going to use tons of pictures for each step so the task is painless. It was a big headache for me when I first started out!

I will take you from zero to having a website that’s ready to work on in no time!

Step #1: Choose your Website Platform

A website platform or content management system (CMS) makes it easy even for non technical people to build a website. It requires little to no coding or design skills.

The most popular platform is WordPress, which is what I use for all my sites and sites I build for other people. It’s very beginner friendly and that’s why I’m recommending it to you. Also, it’s FREE!

You can access thousands of free website designs to create the website you want with just the click of a button. Here are just a few examples of the free designs you can download for your site:

how to start an art website

One of my favorite things about WordPress is how easy it is to install new designs and plugins. It’s like playing with lego – you can remove a piece just as easily as you attached it.

Plugins are add-ons to your site like slideshows, galleries, social share buttons and more. Currently, the WordPress plugin directory contains more than 46,000 plugins and the number grows every day. Whenever I look for a specific plugin, I’ll have at least 15 free plugin options to choose from.

For a non-techie person like myself, WordPress makes building websites fun! Plus, there’s a huge community of developers and free how-to guides and videos everywhere on the web.

If you’re not interested in WordPress, here are some other popular platforms you can check out:


This step by step tutorial is specific to WordPress. So you may want to find another tutorial if WordPress isn’t the CMS of your choice :)

Step #2: Choose your Web Host and Domain Name

Selecting a platform is only the beginning, you also need to have a web host and domain name for everything to work. Since this guide is on how to build a professional artist website, I’m suggesting a paid host.

There are free options out there, but I highly discourage using them because your site will have a low bandwidth limit, load slowly especially for portfolio sites, rank lower in search engines, have limited design and customization options and be hosted on a sub-domain which looks unprofessional to prospective clients (Eg: yourname.freeblog.com).

I Recommend BlueHost.com – it’s Cheap and Great for Beginners


Bluehost is a very popular web host for beginners and a great option to start your art website. BlueHost’s prices are very affordable, with their basic hosting package priced at only $3.45/month. When you register, they even give you a FREE domain. I usually purchase my domains from namecheap.com, so this offer saved me $14 right off the bat!

BlueHost’s control panel is friendly for non-techie people, you can create professional business emails with them (eg: yourname@yourdomain.com), their bandwidth is unmetered and they offer one click wordpress installs so you can start designing your website in minutes! (I’m going to take you through the entire process later).


Select a Domain Name for Your Site

This part is fun! Get your pen and paper out and start brainstorming!

  • If you’re like me and you want to create a brand for your website, choose a name that is easy to remember, easy to spell and is short. Avoid using hyphens and make sure your domain name looks good without spaces. Eg: DrawingMastery.com instead of masterofart.com
  • If you’re creating an art portfolio or personal website, it’s a good idea to use your name. It looks great on a business card and is easy to remember (unless your name is Eedara Veera Venkata Satyanarayana). In that case, it may be better to stick to your initials.

I always choose a .com address because it’s easy for people (such as clients) to remember, it looks more professional and I strongly believe Google prefers it over .club, .online, .design and even the popular .net.

I can never remember if a domain ends in anything other than .com. If that applies to you too, you can be sure that your clients are the same as well.

You can use the search box below to check if your domain name is already taken:

Step #3: Purchase Hosting and Get Your Free Domain

If you want to host your art website with BlueHost (which I personally suggest and trust), go to www.BlueHost.com and select a package that best fits your needs. If you want to create multiple sites, the second plan offers you the ability to host an unlimited amount of websites (please note that when you sign up, you only get 1 domain for free).



After you select the package you need, you’ll be able to enter your desired domain name:


Next, you’ll need to create an account. At the bottom of the page, you’ll be asked to select a few package add-ons before checking out.

The most important ones to me are Site Backup Pro and SiteLock Domain Security. But you can easily backup your website and protect it from malware using free plugins.

If you want to sell products/services on your website, having a SiteLock certified site will be a good idea. I personally do not check any of the add-ons.

Once you go through the payment system, continue to step #4.

Step #4: Install WordPress

Once you’re signed in, you will land on your BlueHost dashboard. From there, scroll down to the tab labelled ‘Website’ and click ‘Install WordPress’.



You’ll be asked to do the installation yourself or with the help of a pro. To install it yourself, select the domain you want to install WordPress on. I leave the directory field blank (this will install WP in your website’s root folder).



After you hit the ‘next’ button you’ll be prompted to enter the name/title of your site, username and password. Your username cannot be changed easily, so choose a good one.



After you hit the ‘install’ button, your installation will start. It should take less than a minute. Then click the ‘here’ button.




On the next page, you’ll be given your site login link, username and password. Click on the link and enter your login credentials to sign into your art website.


If you click on the link and land on a page that looks something like this. Don’t panic. Refresh the page in 30 or 60 minutes until you get the WordPress login page.



After you login, you’ll be introduced to your WordPress dashboard. When you try to access your site in a new browser (where you’re not logged in), it should display a “Coming Soon” page. You can launch your website by clicking “launch” from the dashboard when you’re ready to publish it to the world!

Before you launch your art site, you’ll want to install a WP theme.



Step #5: Choose and Install a WP Theme for Artists

If you’re creating a portfolio website, here are a few free and premium WP portfolio themes you may like:

Magnetic – Free HTML5 Responsive WP Template

Simple and clean design with easy left sidebar navigation. Responsive template adjusts well to desktop, tablet and smartphones.
Demo      Download



Heat – Premium Responsive Portfolio Theme

Create multiple grid, masonry and even video galleries for your artwork and display as many images as you want in each. Responsive design looks and behaves well on desktop, tablet and smartphone.
Demo      Download



Ad Hoc – Responsive Portfolio

Design your own galleries using various grid style layouts. This theme features cool transitions and animations when switching between pages and scrolling.
Demo      Download



PILE – Responsive Unique Portfolio Theme

Simple drag-and-drop interface with a minimalistic, sophisticated and slick design. Enjoy smooth scrolling and unique transitions between pages. Arrange your pages into a grid style gallery or break it up with a dynamic flowing layout.
Demo     Download



Mentas – Responsive Elegant Multipurpose Art Portfolio Theme

Choose from 4 different gallery styles: masonry grid, grid view, expanding grid and pinterest style. Comes with Visual Composer, the #1 most popular drag-and-drop page builder (value of $34).
Demo     Download



Do you like the theme I use on RapidFireArt? You can get it here. It’s called Newspaper – my favorite theme of all time because of how customizable it is (I’ve tried more than 20 different free and premium themes and was never satisfied until I got this one). You can check out the different layouts using the preview button on the sales page.

Note: This theme is not a portfolio theme! It’s great for blogging though :)

Newspaper – Responsive Magazine Theme with Visual Composer Drag-and-Drop Builder



Installing Your Theme

After you download your theme, it should show up as a zip file. If you purchased a premium theme through ThemeForest, make sure you select the download option of ‘Installable WordPress File Only’.

Now go back to your WP dashboard and click ‘Appearance‘ and then ‘Themes‘.



On the next page click ‘upload‘.



Then click ‘upload theme



Select your theme’s zip file and hit ‘install now‘.



When the upload is complete, you’ll get a screen that looks like this. You can choose to preview the theme or activate it. The preview option is good for when you already have your website fully setup and want to test out other themes without actually changing how your site appears to clients or readers.

Hit ‘activate’ and wait for the next page to load.



Your theme installation is now complete! Depending on the theme you installed, you may be recommended some additional installations (plugins) which compliment your theme.



Once you’ve installed the necessary plugins, it’s time to customize your website. For the newspaper theme in this example, customizations such as site colors, page layouts, fonts, etc can be made in the ‘theme panel’ under the ‘Newspaper’ tab. If you can’t find the tab for your theme, go to ‘appearance’ > ‘customize’.



If your theme has a drag-and-drop builder like visual composer, you can design the layout of a page or post by selecting the backend editor when creating/editing a page or post.



Once your gallery or blog post is up, launch it so you can share your artwork with the world!


Now you’re on your own! That wasn’t so bad, was it?


Before you go, let me leave you with a list of free and premium plugins I use on my websites like the one you’re on right now:

Google XML Sitemaps – Help search engines better index your pages
Wp Smush It – Minimize the weight of your images to increase your website’s speed
All in One SEO Pack – Optimize your art website for search engines
Easy Social Share Buttons – Beautiful share buttons with endless customization options to help increase your web traffic
Social Locker – Increase your social media shares by locking things like premium content, guides, etc.
Mail Munch – Collect emails and grow your list of subscribers
Aweber Autoresponder – Send automated emails to your subscribers so you can keep them engaged with your business

I hope this tutorial on how to make an art website was helpful to you and wish you the best of luck with your brand new site! I’m no tech wiz, but if you need any help or have any questions, let me know! I’ll try my best to help you out :)


How to make an artist website in 5 EASY steps Read More »

How to shade & pencil shading techniques

You guys asked for it, so here it is: the most requested tutorial to date: How to Shade + Shading Techniques! :)

Shading is the process of applying varying levels of darkness to create the illusion of form and depth.

Aside from practicing proper shading and blending techniques, a good understanding of light, planes and contours are crucial for turning a flat line drawing into a realistic portrait that conveys the illusion of form, bringing your drawing to life.

Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to learn from this shading tutorial.

You can click on the links below to quickly jump to any section of the tutorial. However, I highly suggest you read all the way through!

Part 1: Understanding Pencil Grades
⦁ Intro to Graphite Pencils
⦁ Shading with One Pencil
⦁ Shading with a Variety of Pencils
⦁ Black and White
Part 2: Pencil Shading Techniques
⦁ Hatching

⦁ Cross Hatching
⦁ Circulism
⦁ Contour Shading
Part 3: Pencil Shading Tips & Tricks
⦁ How to Shade Smoothly
⦁ Increase your Range of Motion
⦁ Use the Right Amount of Pressure
⦁ Value Consistency
Part 4: Understanding Light
⦁ The Light and Dark Side
⦁ Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow

Part 5: Intro to Planes
Part 6: Representing Form
⦁ Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions
⦁ Is Your Drawing Too Flat?
⦁ Bumps and Ridges
Part 7: Shading Practice

⦁ Shading Exercises and Printable Worksheets

Specific shading tutorials:

Understanding Pencil Grades

To achieve a realistic drawing that communicates form and depth, your drawing will need to have a wide range of values. Invest in a set of high quality pencils with a range of grades that fit your specific drawing needs.

A typical full set of pencils will range from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest). Having a full set is not necessary for portrait drawing. The range you need depends on the type of drawings you do.

What are the best pencils for sketching and shading?

Hard pencils produce clean, sharp and light lines which are great for sketching, architectural drawings, product sketches, etc. The harder the pencil, the more difficult it is to blend or smudge.

Be careful when shading or outlining with sharp, hard pencils because they can leave deep indents in your paper which are very difficult to cover up.

Soft pencils produce dull and dark lines which are easy to blend. Soft pencils deposit more graphite with less effort, making it easy to fill in space, blend, shade and add texture to your drawing. They are the best pencils for shading and drawing portraits!

The pencil grades I use the most for portrait drawing are: HB, 4B, 6B and 8B from Derwent. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.

The best shading pencils should be free of impurities.

pencil graphite value scale H to 9B RFA 4

You can tell how hard or soft a pencil is by looking at the combination of letters and numbers printed on the end of each pencil.

H: Hard
F: Fine Point
HB: Hard Black
B: Black

Black and White

Black: With graphite pencils, you won’t get a deep black. However, you can achieve it with charcoal. They are actually very commonly used together with amazing results.

White: You may have seen artists use correctional fluid (whiteout), paint or white pencil crayon to bring out strong highlights in their drawing. This gives the drawing a very impactful look and can enhance the level realism. Here’s an example.

Shading with One Pencil

Shading with HB pencil vs Multiple pencils

If your tool belt currently consists of a single HB pencil, your portraits are probably lacking depth.

The HB pencil (aka #2 pencil) is absolutely great for drawing preliminary outlines and shading light areas because it doesn’t require much effort to produce faint lines. However, you’ll need to apply a lot of pressure when it comes to shading dark shadows. All this effort can damage your paper, resulting in a drawing that doesn’t translate well from multiple viewing angles. Not to mention, it will be impossible to erase.

Here’s an exaggerated example on thin sketch paper.

shading with the wrong pencil grade RFA

If you prefer to use only one pencil, I suggest using a 2B, 3B or 4B. They’re flexible enough to reach both ends of the value scale without much effort. If your drawings are usually light, go for a 2B. My favorite is 4B.

Shading with a Variety of Pencils

When shading with a variety of pencil grades, each pencil should only cover a small range of values.

For the drawing below, I used HB, 4B and 6B.

Shading using multiple pencils HB 4B 6B RFA

HB: Preliminary outlines, some highlights, first layer of shading, eye-whites.

4B: Mid-tones, light shadows, detailing, hair, first layer of shading for clothes, background.

6B: Darkest shadows, hair, clothes, dark areas of background, pupils, inside the mouth and nostrils.

Click here for a full step by step tutorial on how to shade a face

Using multiple pencil grades makes the job easy because there is less effort required to achieve a lighter or darker shade. For example, it would have been difficult to shade the background using an HB and even more difficult to shade highlights using a 6B.

If you need help selecting the best pencil grades for a portrait, create a value scale using your own graphite pencils, compare the values to your reference image directly and select the range of pencils that closely match the values you need.

The range of values can vary greatly from one portrait to another due to lighting or skin color. The 2 faces below have very different highlights, mid-tones and shadows.

Portrait Drawing Value Scale RFA 2

For the face on the left, I would shade my drawing with an HB for outlines and eye-whites, a 4B for the rest of the face and maybe a 6B for the pupils.

For the face on the right, I would use an HB for outlines and highlights, 4B for my first layer of shading, 5B for the second layer and light shadows, 6B for darker shadows and eye detailing, and finally a 9B for the darkest shadows.

Portrait Pencil Shading Techniques

Below are a few portrait pencil shading techniques for beginners and experienced artists alike.

HatchingHatching Pencil Shading Example 1 RFA

This shading technique consists of a series of lines that go in one general direction. You can increase the value by applying more pressure and or using a softer grade of pencil.

This is my favorite and most used technique, especially for speed drawings! It’s a huge time saver.

When using this technique, always angle your pencil more towards the paper so your strokes are nice and thick. This allows you to minimize gaps, making it easier to blend.

Cross Hatching

Cross hatching shading technique RFA

The cross hatching technique consists of overlapping lines coming from multiple directions.

I use this technique to convey wrinkled or highly textured skin as well as some types of fabrics.

CirculismCirculism Shading Example 2 RFA

Circulism is my second favorite shading technique. It’s great for creating realistic skin textures. The idea is to draw many circles that overlap each other, building tone with each added layer.

This technique requires a lot of patience!

When using this technique to draw skin with fine wrinkles, use a sharp tip. For smooth skin, angle your pencil more so you get slightly blunt circles which are much easier to blend, giving the skin a softer appearance.

Contour Shading

Contour Shading Example Lips RFA 3

This technique is similar to hatching or cross hatching, except you’re curving the lines to follow the contour of the form you are shading. Contour lines can be drawn vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. This is a great shading technique to practice giving form to your line drawings. With a sharp pencil tip, it’s great for shading fine wrinkles.

In the image below, I used all of the realistic shading techniques above to convey wrinkly skin. For the first few layers, I used circulism, then I used the other three shading techniques to achieve various textures found in wrinkly skin.

Tip: When drawing wrinkly or rough skin, avoid blending your graphite.

Shading Techniques Closeup RFA

Pencil Shading Tips and Tricks

How to Shade Smoothly

There are a few factors involved in achieving a smooth pencil shade.

1.) Good Pressure Control

Maintain consistent pressure for each individual stroke.Shading Pressure RFA

If you’re shading into a lighter area, though, it helps to reduce the amount of pressure at the end of the stroke so you get a nice gradient instead of an abrupt change in value.

Abrupt Shading 001

2.) Tight Strokes

To get a smooth shade, you’ll want thick strokes which are close together. Move your hand high up on the pencil and away from the tip. The more you angle the side of your lead towards the paper, the thicker your strokes will be. The thicker, the better! These strokes can be easily blended.how to shade smoothly pencil angle 1 RFA

Tip: If you re-positioned your hand on the pencil for any reason while shading, scribble on a scrap piece of paper until you regain the same stroke thickness before you continue with your drawing in case you catch a sharp edge.

how to shade smoothly pencil angle 2 RFA

Avoid holding your pencil like you would if you were writing, especially if you just sharpened your pencil. The lines are more difficult to blend and it requires more time and effort to keep your strokes tight, not to mention cover more ground. A drawing shaded like this will look very scratchy.

This position can, however work very well for shading areas of the skin with fine lines/wrinkles.

3.) Shadow Lining

This is a method I came up with a while back where I only use a specific shading technique to outline areas of light and shadow before I shade. I don’t want to explain it using 3 paragraphs every time I refer to it, so I’m going to call it shadow lining from now on. I think it’s a car detailing term but it fits, so I’ll just use it.

For example: If I’m shading a face using the circulism method, I will also use circulism to outline shadows and highlights on the face. If you don’t outline your shadows or highlights, then this method may not apply to you (It’s very effective for drawing hairlines though).

Here’s an example from my face shading tutorial using the hatching technique.

Shadow LiningShadow Lining is a great way to plan out your shading without having your outlines show through in your final drawing.

4.) Reduce White Dots

The more textured the paper, the more white dots you will get across your drawing. This can make your drawing look very grainy.

getting rid of white dots in drawing RFA

You can reduce white dots by:

  • Shading in many layers. You’ll notice that with each added layer, the dots reduce in size and number.
  • You can also use a sharp pencil to carefully fill in large or weirdly shaped dots to improve the texture of your shading.
  • Or you can blend the graphite using a blending tool of your choice.

5.) Remove Black Dots

Again, if you’re using a highly textured paper, you might get some black dots across your drawing. If you’re shading skin, these dots can look like stubble (it’s even worse when paired with white dots). If you’re going to use a blending tool on your drawing, remove the dots first!getting rid of black dots blotches RFA

Create a pointy end on your kneaded eraser to dab each of the dots away. Dab lightly! It’s tedious but well worth it.

6.) Blend

Before you blend, make sure that your strokes are tight, the shading is even and there aren’t too many white and black dots. Blending smooths out your shading, but it’s not a miracle solution for lazy people. If your shading is sloppy to begin with, blending isn’t going to help.

Increase your Range of Motion

Are you frustrated by inconsistent, short, choppy strokes? Improve the quality of your strokes and increase your stroke length by harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder.

RFA Overhand Grip

Use an overhand grip on your pencil paired with movement from your elbow and shoulder to create longer and straighter lines. This will give you a much wider range of motion compared to using just your wrist or finger joints. To shade darker, press your index finger down on the pencil’s tip.

You can also hold your pencil with a regular grip which would give you more precision, but it’s not as good for shading large spaces where you need the shading to be smooth.

Use the Right Amount of Pressure

Your pencil grip and wrist movement should be generally loose, except when shading the darkest values and doing detailing work. Use light to medium pressure and switch to a softer pencil when the one you are using cannot go any darker.

Value Consistency

Does the overall shading of your portrait lack balance? Make sure your lighting is consistent across the entire portrait by keeping track of how dark you shade each area of the portrait. You can do this by referencing back to one main value. For me, the main value is the darkest or lightest value already established in the portrait.

Create a value scale to use for cross referencing if needed.

Understanding Light

When shading, you are essentially reproducing the value of light as it interacts with a form. Understanding light is crucial in order to create a convincing portrait.

I’m going to use a sphere with one main light source as an example because the light is more predictable.Terminator and light source RFA

In the image on the right, the light source is coming from the top left. The area facing the light is the light side and the area facing away from the light is the shadow side.

The transition zone is referred to as the terminator.

The Light Side & the Shadow Side

Sphere how to shade with graphite light side dark side rfa
Image 1

The side facing the light consists of the core light, highlight and mid-tones.

  • Core Light: The area on the surface of a form that faces the light source directly. It is darker than the highlight.
  • Highlight: A reflection of the light source on the form. The highlight is the lightest area and will appear in different places depending on your viewing angle. At certain angles, the highlight will not exist in your line of sight. On glossy surfaces, it will be very defined, while appearing soft on matte surfaces.
  • Mid-Tones: Mid-tones are the darkest values on the light side, and are lighter than the core shadow. These areas are not facing the light directly. Mid-tones appear darker and darker as they approach the shadow side, as the surface of the form starts facing away from the light.
Sphere - Light and Shadow Side RFA Drawing 2
Image 2

The side facing away from the light consists of the core shadow and reflected light.

  • Core Shadow: The core shadow or form shadow is a dark strip that appears after the terminator. The appearance of the core shadow can be affected by reflections or multiple light sources. In ‘image 1’ the core shadow is less prominent on the left side due to reflections from the white table.
  • Reflected Light: Objects are not only lit by light sources, but also by reflected light. That’s why shadows are rarely ever black. Light bounces off different surfaces such as walls or even dust particles in the air, creating reflections. These reflections can vary in color and value.

Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow

A cast shadow appears when a form blocks light from reaching the surface of another form. The edges of a cast shadow can appear soft or hard depending on the intensity and distance of the light source. In direct sunlight the edges will appear hard, while in diffused light such as a cloudy day, edges will be soft.RFA Sphere - Cast Shadow Occlusion Shadow

The longer a cast shadow gets, the lighter and softer it becomes due to reflected light from the environment around it.

The area immediately below the sphere is called an occlusion shadow and is usually the darkest area as it is least affected by reflected light.

Tip: You can find the direction of the light source in a scene if you trace the edges of the cast shadow against the form it is cast from.

Can you label the values on the nose sculpture below?


Intro to Planes

The hardest part of shading hands down is being able to add the right amount of value in the right spots.

The surface of a cube is much easier for someone to shade realistically compared to a sphere because you can clearly see which sides of the object are facing the light and which ones are facing away. These flat surfaces are called planes.

Shading Planes RFA 3

Planes angled towards the light directly are the lightest. As the planes start angling away from the light, they receive less and less light, hence appearing darker.

Before shading a portrait, it’s good practice to simplify what you see by breaking areas of the face into planes so your brain can process the information better. This allows you to find patterns of light more easily and can also improve your overall drawing accuracy.

Representing Form

Is your shading incorrectly representing the form you intended to draw?

Before you shade anything, analyze your subject until you understand it’s contours instead of trying to figure it out as you draw. It really helps to observe your subject from multiple angles. Once you familiarize yourself with your subject, decide on how you will shade before you actually shade.

Here are a few things to keep in mind before and while you shade:

Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions

Gradual Shading Transition RFA

If you want to convey a round edge, avoid abrupt shading transitions. The more gradual your shading is, the more smooth your edge becomes.

Is Your Drawing Too Flat?

It’s common for beginners to leave large areas of their portraits (such as cheeks) white. Areas that remain white or are shaded with a solid tone indicate that they are facing the same direction. Have a look at the center forehead plane in the three images below.

Flat Drawing Example RFA

The center plane in the first image is shaded with a solid tone, making it appear flat. The following two images introduce a range of very subtle tones, giving the surface slight bumps.

The addition of these values are subtle, but do their job in transforming a flat surface into a more shapely one. Also take a close look at the right forehead plane. The shading is even more subtle, but still does not come across as flat.

Shading Smile Lines RFA

Bumps and Ridges

Sometimes, we may have the tendency to over represent or exaggerate subtle forms such as eye bags, pimples and smile lines. Instead of defining a form using an outline or line, practice representing these forms using gradients.

Shading Practice

Download the printable worksheets below and follow the instructions carefully. If you don’t have a printer, that’s okay. Follow along using your sketchbook!

If you want to practice shading on simple objects, grab a bright lamp, a set of geometric shapes and set up a scene!

Page 1, Page 2

Exercise #1: Pressure Control

For the exercises below, try to implement the shading tips and techniques mentioned in Part 2 of the tutorial. You can apply different shading techniques to the exercises too (cross hatching, circulism, etc).

1.a)  Without lifting your pencil or taking any breaks, draw tight lines back and forth from one end of your sketch book to the other. Gradually increase your pressure as you go. Your goal is to get a smooth gradient.Shading Exercise 1a

1.b) Do it again, but this time, go from dark to light.

1.c) Shade a solid tone without lifting your pencil.

Shading Exercise 1c

1.d) Shade a solid tone from one end of your sketchbook to the other. Lift your pencil every now and then and rotate it slightly before you continue shading. Don’t forget to scribble on a scrap piece of paper to test your pencil’s sharpness before you continue! Your goal is to make it look as though you never lifted the pencil at all.

1.e) Pick out a few different pencil grades such as HB, 2B, 4B and 6B. Shade in order from hardest to softest pencil and go from left to right. Your goal is to blend the values together seamlessly so you get something that looks like image 1.a).

Shading Exercise 1e

1.f) Layering: Use an HB pencil to shade an even layer of graphite across the page. Split the area into 4 spaces labeling them 3, 2 and 1. Add a darker layer of graphite over your first layer from left to right and ease up on the pressure as you approach 1. Do the same thing except this time stopping at 2. Then the same thing for 3.

At this point, you may notice some inconsistencies. Make corrections by adding a few more layers where needed.

Shading Exercise 1d RFA

1.g) Select a few different pencil grades and shade a series of rectangles. Use only your pencil to blend each of the values together.

Shading Exercise 1g

Exercise #2: Stretch and Compress Values

2.a) Draw a series of wide to narrow boxes. Shade each one using vertical strokes. Follow this pattern using one or multiple pencils: Shadow, Mid-tone, Highlight, Mid-tone, Shadow.

Shading Exercise 2aExercise #3: Analyzing Contours

3a.) Add contour lines to each of the shapes below.

Exercise Contours RFA

3b.) Make up your own shapes and add contour lines to them. Once you’re done, decide where the light is coming from and shade them in.

3c.) Select 3 very different faces from a magazine and draw vertical and horizontal contour lines across each face.

Exercise #4: Edges, Light and Shadow

4.a) Determine the direction of the light and shade vertically along each jagged line. Around sharp edges, tighten your terminator and loosen it around smoother edges. If you really want a challenge, give each image cast shadows as well.

Shading Exercise Edges Light Shadow RFA

Exercise #5: Planes

5a.) Select any 3 objects around you and simplify them using geometric shapes. Shade them once you’re done.

Practice Primary and Secondary Planes RFA

5b.) Find 3 faces in a magazine and use a pen to outline major planes.

Face Planes RFA

5c.) Draw planar faces and shade them by coming up with as many lighting arrangements as you can think of.

How to Shade Planar Faces RFA

Exercise #6: Elbow and Shoulder

6a.) Shade the 2 shapes using an overhand grip while moving your elbow and shoulder. Make sure to scribble on a separate sheet of paper before you begin to increase the thickness of your lines. Make sure that each stroke you make reaches the full length of each shape. Only lift your pencil once you get from one end to the other.

This is my longest tutorial to date, consisting of more than 3,400 words! I tried to cover as much as I could in this tutorial. If there’s something you’d like me to add, please let me know!

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