Toad Hollow Studio's Drawing Tutorials And Classes by Carol Rosinski

Learn To Draw A Yarn Ball


If you draw from the on-site photo references:

If you draw from life:

  • Some light or medium colored clay formed into a ball.
  • Some light or medium colored yarn ball about the same size as the ball of clay.
  • A "soft" pencil (B, 2B, or 3B.)
  • A kneaded eraser, pencil sharpener, and paper.

Start With A Shaded Sphere

Sketch A Sphere From A Photo Reference

If you want complete instructions for how to draw the ball first, here they are: How To Shade A Ball In Six Steps

Sketch A Sphere From Life

Sketching Exercise - Ball 1Place the ball of clay in an area where the light shines on it strongly from one direction so that the shadow it casts is small and clear.

Quickly sketch the ball and its shadow. Fill the ball and the shadow with hatching. Darken the shadow areas by adding more hatching and lighten the highlight areas by tapping them out with the tip of a kneaded eraser that's been pinched into a point.

What to look for as you draw the sphere:

  • • Where is the darkest shadow on the ball.
  • • Where is the lightest highlight.
  • • Reflected light. (bottom right on this ball)
  • • Variations in the main shadow. (It has lighter and darker areas, too.)

Add Yarn Line Detail Over the Sketched Ball Sketching Exercise - Ball 2

Now exchange the ball of yarn for the clay ball and try to see the same shadows and highlights that were on the ball. Some of them will be easy to see, some will be disguised by the yarn's detail, and some will be changed because the yarn ball's surface undulates more than the clay ball.

Sketch the pattern of the yarn strands over the top of the ball you just sketched.

Erase Highlights

Sketching Exercise - Ball 3Using the kneaded eraser, gently tap and stroke out the highlights you see along the strands of yarn.

What to look for:

  • • Highlights along strands that stick out farther than the surface of the basic ball shape.
  • • The way highlights run along the center of a yarn strand while the edges stay in shadow.

Add Final Shadow Details

Sketching Exercise - Ball 4Look for the shadow areas and darken them. Use the tip of the pencil to darken the shadows between the strands of yarn.

Darken any larger areas that weren't in shadow on the clay ball, but are now.

Change the edge shape of the ball and the cast shadow to show how some yarn strands are higher or lower than others..

What to look for:

  • • How the shadows darken along the edges of some of the strands more than others.
  • • How the shadows vary in darkness.
  • • Some of the shadows have soft (indistinct or blurred) edge lines and some of them hard (cleanly drawn) edges.

Find out more about hard and soft edges here.

Carol Rosinski
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Drawing Made Easy, Getting Started by Carol Rosinski
My book Drawing Made Easy; Getting Started

Toad Hollow Studio - Teaching how to draw since 1999