Three Dimensional Pyramids

Dont Panic Buttom C. RosinskiThis exercise looks complicated but it’s not, so don’t panic. Work slowly and spread the steps out over a few days if you want to. Nothing has be be perfectly done, and your drawing skills will get a good workout no matter how this turns out.

You’ll need 2H, HB, & 2B pencils, a sharpener, and a kneaded eraser.

Make The Beginning Line Drawing

Horizontal Lines C. Rosinski

Horizontal Lines

Draw a few horizontal lines an equal distance apart.

Vertical Lines C. Rosinski

Vertical Lines

Draw a few vertical lines.

Diagonal Lines Left C. Rosinski

Diagonal Lines Left

Now draw diagonal lines through the points where the horizontal lines cross the verticals.

Diagonal Lines Right C. Rosinski

Diagonal Lines Right

Then draw diagonals in the opposite direction.

Add Shading

Hatch Pattern C. Rosinski

Hatch Pattern

Fill each triangle with one value using one pencil in this pattern.

To keep the texture consistent, make all of the hatching with a flattened pencil point. Make a flat tip by first sharpening the lead and then running it back and forth over some scrap paper. To use it, bring the flat point directly down to the drawing without shifting your grip on the pencil.

Pyramid Flat Hatching C. Rosinski

Pyramids – Flat

Your drawing should look similar to this after you’re through. You can see some depth beginning to form, but the drawing is  still pretty flat overall.

Crank It Up And Feel The Burn

Side Gradation C. Rosinski


Using the same pencils, gradate each side of the pyramids with the darkest part at the bottom, but this time use a sharper lead. The smaller point will fill more of the paper grain than the flat point did and that will darken the hatch.

If you need to lighten a dark blotch or smooth out the gradation a little, pinch the kneaded eraser into a point and tap the hatch until it lightens. If you rub the graphite with the eraser, it’ll smear the texture and there’s no way to fix that.

Pyramid 3-D Hatching C. Rosinski

Pyramids – 3D

When you’re done, you should see some very developed form that makes the pyramids pop out of the paper. If not, go back and darken the bottoms of the gradations more and don’t pull any punches this time. Timid shading leads to washed-out drawings.

Since this drawing lesson has remained one of my most popular, I’ve decided to combine it with one of my most commonly received questions, and that is how to build a good starting drawing kit. It includes the things you need for this lesson, plus another good all purpose eraser.

Carol’s Drawing Kit and Upgrade

I’m a Blick affiliate. They’ve been my art store for over thirty years, so I know them well, and I get a bit of money when you buy from my links. If you do that thanks! In any case, these are the brands I use and recommend.

Derwent Graphic 2B
Derwent Graphic HB

Derwent Graphic 2H

(If one is out of stock, get the next softer grade.)
Canson Classic Cream Drawing Pad

Helix Automatic Cordless Eraser

Faber-Castell Kneaded Eraser
Alvin Vinyl Eraser
Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener

If you want to take your drawing up a notch or two, upgrade to these pencils and paper. They’re more expensive, but worth it if you’re serious about your art.

Arches Hotpress Watercolor Pad
– This paper has a smooth surface for fine detail, yet it can hold very deep blacks. It’s very tough and can handle a lot of re-working too. I use this for all my serious drawings. (Not sketches or doodles.)

Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils
– The Grafwood pencils are the best I’ve ever used. They’re unbelievably true to grade, and they blend extraordinarily well with a brush too. There is a slight learning curve to using them, and I hated them at first. Now I can’t live without them. Ha!

Draw well, draw strong, and never stop!

About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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31 Responses to Three Dimensional Pyramids

  1. Marvin Cline says:

    Thanks for posting the 3D Pyramids. It was a good exercise for me. I always look forward to your next posting. M.Cline

  2. "Marty" says:

    I’ve always wanted to be a good drawer. I’ve been trying to teach myself how to draw for a few years now. Been using numerous how-to books that I bought but I think I’m learning too many approaches. I’m confusing myself and growing discouraged as I don’t see any true progress. Then I put it down for months, start again with the books. Then I put it away for months as I grow discouraged again. Saw your online drawing blog a few weeks ago. I decided to give the 3D pyramid sketch at try. I messed up the triangles on the first attempt. Did it correctly the 2nd time and I really enjoyed the process and liked results. I lost track of time and almost forgot to put dinner in the oven. I will definitely come here to learn more!

    • Carol says:

      Hi Marty,

      I think that about half of learning to draw is knowing how to make the pencil do what you want it to do. Gradations, hard and soft edges, controlled blending, mixing pencil grades, all of these technical skills are essential to creating a good drawing. The “Art” part comes later, after you’ve learned to do these things without thinking about them. A good grasp of technical drawing skills makes drawing easier and much more spontaneous too.

      I’m glad you had success with the pyramids!

  3. winnie the pooh says:

    That looks soooooooo cool I’m going to try it. I’m getting way better at drawing. My parents still havent given me any lessons and im doing really well i did your cat drawing

  4. Cindy says:

    This site is very nice..

  5. Mimi says:

    I used to draw a lot when I was a kid.But due to my father’s extra stress on study I dropped it.And now I can’t even find a tutor for myself.When I see other people’s work it makes me happy as well as incredibly sad,because I was never given an opportunity to learn drawing.Your techniques are really great.I hope soon I’ll be able to draw like real artists.
    Thank you so much making these free tutorials.Other tutorials on internet cost a fortune and I can’t afford that.For me sources are best.I’m grateful to you forever,for what ever you are doing for people like me.

    • Carol says:

      Thank YOU Mimi for saying such kind words about my tutorials. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to draw well after you’ve practiced regularly for a while. Drawing isn’t difficult, but it does take a lot of practice to learn how and a lot of practice after you know how to stay in shape!

      So, practice as much as you can. Don’t worry if you don’t think your drawings are very good. They’ll improve if you keep at it because drawing itself will always be your best teacher.

  6. Graham Johnson says:

    My pyramids look like pancakes but I’m trying! (very trying I’m told)
    but at 78 it’s relaxing and thank you for your lessons.

    • Carol says:

      Thanks Graham. If your pyramids look like square pancakes :) … you might need to check your values. Make sure the darkest is very dark. Really push it to the fullest black you can make.

      I want to mention an odd thing that happens when you’re drawing too. Sometimes the drawing will suddenly look flat even though you thought you were developing the depth well. It seems to me that when this happens our minds are simply seeing the drawing as it really is and not implying any depth or space. This is actually a good thing because seeing things as they truly are is a one of the most important drawing skills, but it can be surprising when you see your own work flip from thee dimensional to flat!

      Anyway, the best thing to do is take a break if the drawing suddenly ‘flattens,’ or take a look at it from a different point of view.

  7. Graham Johnson says:

    I’m looking forward with anticipation to improving my drawing skills with your expert advice. It’s the firsttime I have visited your web-site. Thank you so much.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Graham,

      This lesson is so popular that I’m going to have to create other exercises like it, so stay tuned for those. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Rhonda Glunt says:

    I am the manager of a senior center. We have just started using your lessons to learn drawing/shading. We position a table up to the computer on Monday afternoons and do one step at a time. Thank You!!!
    We can’t afford a teacher and I have not been blessed artistically. Your site is a blessing to all of us! Rhonda

    • Carol says:

      Hi Rhonda,

      Thanks so much for telling me this. I’ll be picturing all of you pulled up around a computer and following along when I write my next tutorial. :)

  9. Abbie says:

    Hi Carol,

    I was wondering if you have any tips on shading? I am just starting art, and I enjoy it, but I do not have many of the basic skills, like learning how to shade and make it look even instead of like a bunch a vertical lines… All I know is that I am supposed to shade all the same way, but I learned that when I was very little, so it might not be right…
    Thank you for this tutorial, it is very helpful and fun!

    • Carol says:

      Hi Abbie,

      I can show what to aim for with shading, but it’s hard to describe how to actually do it!

      I’d like you to watch a couple of the videos I’ve posted so you can see how I make hatching (or shading). It’ll be very quick because I’ve been doing this for such a long loooooong time, but at least you’ll be able to see how I hold and move the pencil.

      Here they are:

      Three Apples, and the sequel, Three pears.

  10. Alexandra says:

    I stumbled upon your site and have been sitting here all afternoon and found the triangle lesson after trying the shading of the flower numerous times and I think I needed this one to really get a feel for it. Thank you so much. I’m artistically adept when it comes to digital scrapping (making the items to scrap with) but drawing and sketching have always been doodles until now thanks greatly to you. I feel no pressure and you make learning fun!

    • Carol says:

      Hi Alexandra,

      Well, you know, I don’t think it’s worth doin’ if it ain’t fun. :)

      No, really, I do appreciate hearing that you’re having fun with my lessons. You inspire me to carry on.

      Thank you,

  11. Bria says:

    I’m 10 and i love to free style but when it’s an art project I get really weak and fail.Can you help me.

  12. mark says:

    thanks for putting your free lessons iam 7 months clean from a 23 year heroin addiction your lessons have been keeping my mind off the drugs and are helping me get my self worth back and for this i am very thankful i have not got a lot of materials just a admaston set of 12 pencils and a rubber but thats the great thing about your lessons thats all i need thankyou so much

    • Carol says:

      Hi Mark, Drawing is so very simple. That’s why I chose it as my medium. It’s about the most direct path there is from your mind to creation. And you really only need a pencil and an eraser, and paper I suppose, but you could use a wall if you had too. And, you know, I would use a wall if I ran out of paper, lol! Yes, drawing has been a life saver for me too. Good luck to you.

  13. Ronnie Wilcox says:

    Hi, i am a self taught artist and was on the net looking to learn different techniques when i clicked on your 3D triangle. Even though I am not a beginner I really liked this exercise it is simple and fairly straight forward. Just wanted to say thanks for the lesson it was refreshing because I have been feeling like I have drawers block, lol…
    P.S. any suggestions for the drawing block would be greatly appreciated
    it’s like i can’t find anything that intrigues me anymore.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Ronnie, I’ve found the best thing for drawing block is to have a specific time for drawing everyday. There’s something about setting a time and sticking to it that clears the path and lets the creativity flow. When ever I find myself blocked, and I do still find myself there just like you, that’s what I go back to. It always works. Good luck to you!

  14. Hi Carol,
    I have always wanted to learn pencil drawing. Your tutorials are so easy to understand and I am having so much fun doing it. I wish I had found this site sooner. I have done some of the beginner exercises and I believe I am improving as I practice. Thanks a lot for these exercises and tutorials!

    • Carol says:

      So glad to hear from you PolymathGeek. Just keep drawing. That’s the most important thing. All things will become easier to you if you just keep at it.

  15. Bhairavi says:

    very nice…Thanks

  16. Ria says:

    Hello! I’ve always loved drawing since I was a child, but I’ve also always wanted to learn how to shade. Bought different kinds of drawing pencils (HB, 2H etc.) and a sketch pad after a loong time of not being able to sketch as much as I used to, and goodness, these tutorials are making me happy!
    I almost did a little victory dance after accomplishing something that I never thought I’d accomplish: a 3D drawing (though my first is a scrap drawing :P ) !
    Thanks a lot! I’m tuning in to this site from now on.

  17. Sabine says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m a first year interior design student who comes from a complete science background and absolutely no art lessons or drawing skills! Since my career path requires creativity and lots of sketching, I dropped by your website to start learning to draw from the very basics.

    Juts finished the above exercise and I must say, it was pretty helpful. The gradients didn’t come out as good as it’s shown here but I guess, practice makes perfect!

    I’ll definitely be back to attempt this one more time and move on to the next posts. Thanks!

    • Carol says:

      Hi zarfeen,

      Glad you’re getting some good use from the lessons. Yes, you need to get your gradients down to an art form! Sorry, couldn’t resist. :) Honestly though, gradients just take practice. After they seem easier to you, I suggest you search for ‘draw a ball’ here next. Then you’ll know how to draw two basic forms that are the building blocks used to create more complex forms.

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