Activity: Shaded Drawing

Activity: Shaded Drawing (Form and Value)

Students should begin their explorations of shadows outside. Trace a friend’s shape with sidewalk chalk at 3 different times of day when the sun is shining. Play with flashlight and see how they create spotlights and shadows. What happens when there are multiple light sources? Which types of surfaces show the light and shadows best? (white and slightly shiny).

After exploring, students will draw a basic object with shading then apply their knowledge to a simple object that means something to them. If possible, have groups of students gather around one light source per group and turn off over-head lights. A simple white mug (this is what we worked with in class) or a geometric solid from the math kit works well, but choose one with rounded shapes like a pyramid or a sphere as the cube requires drawing in perspective as well as shading. It is easier for the teacher if all are drawing the same object.

Have students go around the group describing the shadows as they see them from their viewpoint. Will each person’s drawing be the same? Have students observe the more difficult to draw aspect of their object – e.g. the top of a mug does not look like a circle even though you know it is one. It is hard when the handle is on your side. Gently shade in the paper with the side of a pencil. It should be light grey and it OK to be a bit loose and messy. Lightly sketch in the object. The teacher can help to guide students past the difficult parts.

  • Look for the darkest shadows on the object. Draw them in.
  • Now the medium shadows.

We did the above slightly differently in our art class – I think we shaded in the darkest shadow first, then the second darkest, third darkest, etc up until the 5th darkest.


  • Now find the brightest highlights and erase all the grey out of them.
  • Lightly erase the medium lights.
  • Now go back and smooth and correct any issues.
  • For next class, bring your own simple but meaningful object to draw.
  • Follow the same steps with a single light source.