Learning how to shade basic three-dimensional objects like cylinders, spheres, cones, and cubes will enhance your art skills to draw more complex objects.
Most objects you see in real life can be broken down into basic objects like a cube, cone, cylinder, and sphere. Learning how light reacts to the object and the surface of an object will help shade the objects so you can create realistic drawings.
This tutorial explains how to shade a cylinder, but the techniques you learn today can also be used for shading a cube, sphere, cone, sphere, and more complex objects.
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Before getting started, it is essential to become familiar with the elements of shading and different shading techniques.
- Drawing Tips For Realistic Drawings – The Elements Of Shading
- How To Shade Drawings With Graphite
- 3 Different Pencil Points For Shading
Drawing Supplies Need To Shade A Cylinder
Quality drawing pencils like blick drawing pencils.
Any paper will work, but it is recommended to use materials you will be using for your final pieces like Strathmore bristol board.
Step 1 Draw A Cylinder
Start by drawing a line drawing of the cylinder.
A line drawing of a cylinder will have the illusion of a three-dimensional object, but it will look photorealistic after it is shaded properly.
Step 2 Identify The Light Source
Next, identify where the light source is coming from.
After you have decided what side the light is coming from, you will be able to draw the full light (highlight), halftone, core shadow, cast shadow, and reflected light. Learning how to shade a cylinder is similar to shading a sphere or cone.
The lightest area is where the light hits the cylinder directly, and the cylinder will become darker as the cylinder’s curve gets farther away from the light source.
The darkest area is the core shadow. The core shadow is the area where light is blocked from hitting an object.
Step 3 Sketch The 5 Elements Of Shading
- The full light is the area the light source is hitting the cylinder.
- The halftone is the middle value of the cylinder.
- The core shadow is the darkest area of the cylinder.
- The reflected light separates the darkness of the core shadow from the cast shadow.
- The cast shadow is the darkest section of the drawing. It is the section where light doesn’t hit.
Having a good understanding of the 5 elements of shading will not only help you to be able to draw and shade a cylinder, but it will also help you to draw realistic drawings that look like a photographic image.
Step 4 Add Tone To The Darkest Area Of The Cylinder
If done properly, the values you add to your drawings will shape and form a three-dimensional illusion of an object on a two-dimensional surface. This is known as perspective drawing.
Start by adding value to the cylinder’s darkest area with straight short lines connecting. Draw from dark to light and make the lines lighter as it goes towards the light source. You can add more value by drawing more straight lines in different directions over an area that has been shaded. This drawing technique is known as crosshatching.
This perspective drawing technique takes time because you will continue to add value with different pencil grades. The result will be a realistic drawing that appears like it will be popping off your drawing surface.
Use the hatching technique to continue to add value with a 2H pencil. Always start from the darkest area and work towards the lighter section of the cylinder.
Continue making the values darker by using an HB pencil. Work from side to side with small lines. Notice how the edges have the same tone as the cylinder. When the tone gets lighter on the cylinder’s side, the value is lighter on the edge of the top and bottom.
Make sure that every line touches each other. You do not want gaps between the lines. The objective is to have a smooth value change from dark to light.
The drawing of a cylinder takes time and can not be rushed if your goal is to draw a cylinder that looks like a photograph.
The more graphite you add to the cylinder, the more realistic it will look. Shading cylinders is a great practice to enhance your drawing skills. The better you become at seeing and drawing soft value changes, the more realistic your drawings will look.
Notice how the values separate the edges, not a line. Values separate forms and shapes in real life. Your objective is to do the same with your drawings.
Continue the steps above until you are satisfied with the drawing.
Step 6 Draw The Shadow
The last step is to draw the cast shadow. Shadows will be the darkest part of the drawing. The shadows will be darkest near the cylinder and lighten gradually as it gets farther away from the cylinder.
Draw the shadow just like you did when you added the value to the cylinder. Start with a 2H pencil and work up to a 4B pencil. Draw from dark to light.
Final Thoughts On How To Shade A Cylinder
This tutorial will help you to see and draw soft value changes that will help you to draw realistic shapes and forms.
In this example, notice that the left side is darker than the right side. This is because the right side has a reflected light. The top of the cylinder is also lighter because the light source is hitting it.
Take your time with this tutorial and enjoy the process. The more you practice how to shade simple objects, the more professional your artwork will look.
Shade Cylinders Overview:
- Draw a cylinder line drawing
- Identify where the light source is
- Shade from the sides and work towards the highlight.
- The edges should not be darker than the darkest value of the sides
- Shade by adding layers of graphite, not by pressing too hard on the paper
- If the highlight is too dark, tap off some graphite with a Kneaded eraser
- Practice this exercise with just pencils to learn how to draw gradual value changes
- Also, practice blending with a blending stump. Lightly rub the blending stump on the sides of the cylinder and blend towards the lighter section
Drawing techniques used for drawing can also be applied with painting. The only difference is that you will use slightly darker tones rather than crosshatching.
After you have drawn a cylinder, try using the same techniques on a cube, cone, and cylinder.
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