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Learning to Draw- Lesson 3, Shading and Cups of Tea!

Part 1- Shade (throwing it like mad)

So, in the previous art lessons, I've covered some basic exercises to improve your observation skills and some things to make your doodling a bit more useful. Now I'm going to cover a bit about shading. Ultimately, by the end of this little lesson, you should be able to draw a bit confidently and draw a mug real good with a bit of practice.

Shading is normally the thing that makes people think you can draw. It's like dark arts in terms of making a picture going from okay to excellent. Consider me your Remus Lupin (or I at least aspire to be more like him and less like the Mad Eye Moody I could be more likely considered as) as I talk to you a little bit about how to make your images into something that you'll be proud to show off.

The first thing I'd like to mention is that you're observational skills are massively important. It's all too easy to see where the light hits an object and for your brain to assume where everything else is. The reality is that light and shadow are complex and elusive things, like my ability to remember a person name (sorry Dawn, or is it, Diane?). It's all too easy to let your brain fill in gaps and help you draw things that aren't there. Keep looking up from the page, it doesn't matter what stage your drawings at. Look, then look again, and then a few more times to make sure. Think of it like when you've ended up watching to many cat videos on YouTube, you just can't look away!

Okay, so how do we add shadow? Whatever we're looking at may have a mix of very dark shadow to bright light so we want to know what our pencil can do to represent these. We can vary pressure, though it's important to note that if you press too hard it can make a drawing look messy, so the other thing we can do is cross hatchet. I'm sure everyone has done this technique at one point but a quick reminder is that you're basically layering lines of the pencil while shading in different directions. It gives us the freedom to really build up different tones in an interesting way. As always I'm going to be using a basic HB pencil to be doing these as it's low cost and accessible for everyone so here's a little chart of how I can get my shading to varying degrees of darkness. If your following along have a go now and see what you can make.

Start with barely any pressure at all, you can move your hand towards the end of the pencil to get a super light line then gradually apply a bit more pressure and denser lines as you go along. Just remember to never press too hard. Do it a few times if you like in different directions and different lines to get confident in the tones you can get out of the pencil and now we can put it into practice.

Part 2- Put it in to practice. How to draw a mug.

Why a mug? Well, beyond the natural I bloody love a cuppa tea, mugs are great as they are really complex shapes even though they seem simple. They have volume but are hollow, with a handle that's also a bit complex. There also widely available, so if you wanna do a sneaky sketch at your desk to give your eyes a break you don't exactly have to put an artist smock or a beret on and set up a fresh bowl of new harvest bounty. It's there and it's great practice. It's a good starter challenge so here's a bit of help.

1.)If you can pick a mug that's plain as it means you can just concentrate on the shadow and you won't have to worry about drawing any surface pattern.

2.)Set a time limit on it, 20 mins, half an hour or even an hour. That way you won't be adding and taking away bits when you don't need to and you won't get to stressed.

3.)So let's start with our line work, keep your pencil line super light (as light as you can without lifting off the paper). Start with the top, remember not to make it like a rugby ball with points at the end. This essentially a stretched circle. No corners or points (like an argument at 3.00am in the morning). It also has an edge there too, that's what telling your brain and what will tell the viewer that this is a 3D object with depth so be sure to see how the shadow it telling you there. Next get in a bit of shape and the handle. One will inform the other here so if you notice you've got a bit too much space between the handle and the bottom of the space the handle is making is too small, no big deal friend. Your working in light lines so you can erase them and have another go. Remember your on a time limit and your just practising and having some fun. Use approximately half of your time on this and then go with it.

4.)Now we can add a bit of shadow. Have a little look at your mug and note to yourself where the darkest shadows are and the lightest highlights. My darkest shadow is inside the cup so I can softly put that in first, (starting with your darkest shadow is a good way to begin) I can build it up as I go so I'm not going to go in too heavy and I'll go back to it if the picture needs to have a bit contrast.

5.)Now work on the body of your mug and begin with anything unusually complex. I've got a particularly light bit on the left-hand side of the main body of the mug (body of the mug, is that a thing?) that's surrounded by a darker section where the light is coming through a dining chair so I'm going to put that in next as its quite complicated.

6.)I'm then going to start light shading to where I have a gentle shadow starting to fill, I've also got a brilliantly strange reflection of the handle so I'll sketch that in too.

7.)I'll do a few more finishing touches and build it up. A top tip, try not to rub out your shading once you've started instead choosing to build it up gradually and with lots of observation. If you get a lot of pencil on the page and drag an eraser over it you get a huge smudge like my eyeliner after a night out! It is possible to get the picture going again as you can tactfully shade over it but just don't panic and don't keep rubbing away until your just left with a dirty page (if that's not an erotic publisher can we make that happen right now).

8,)I'll then put a little shadow in the mug is creating where it hits the table. If you don't want to draw any background in it's good to at least draw this as it gives your sketch some much-needed context as to how the mug is sitting. My mug was on a table so and I'm wanting to finish up.

And I'll leave it there. How did you get on? If you have any questions or suggestions for future lessons I'd love to hear them and help you out. Have a go and have some fun. Drawing is a really relaxing and rewarding hobby to get in to, show me what you got either on here or on my social media on the links below.

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