Beginning Shading Exercise – Shade A Ball

Shaded ball with cast shadow. C. Rosinski

Fully shaded ball.

After the line drawing, it’s always gratifying to add realistic shading. Shading makes the subject look three dimensional and solid. Learn how to shade a ball with this easy technique.


B or HB pencil 0r a No. 2 writing pencil.
Drawing paper marked “smooth” or “medium.”

Overhand Shading Pencil Grip Photo C. Rosinski

Overhand Shading Pencil Grip

Before you Start – How to Hold the Pencil
Use an overhand grip for these exercises. Fill a sheet of scrap paper with broad marks made with the side of the lead until you’re comfortable working with a pencil held this way.

Graphite Pencil Shading Hatch C. Rosinski

Gradated Shading Hatch

Gradated Shading Made With the Side of the Pencil
Using the same overhand grip to practice making gradated hatching like this.

  • Using light pressure, make short back and forth motions with your pencil. Make the hatch marks in the same direction but vary their length so that they’ll blend well as you add more. (Make them between a 1/2 and 3/4 inches long.)
  • Very important: Instead of pressing harder to create a darker value, go over the area several times until it darkens.

Now Shade a Ball

Ball Shading Model Photo C. Rosinski

Ball Shading Model

Line drawing of a ball. C. Rosinski

Line Drawing

Step One – Line Drawing

Quickly draw the ball and its shadow using an overhand grip with light pressure on the pencil. Tip the pencil up on its point a bit, so that it makes a thinner line.

The overhand grip is a good one for drawing quickly but it’s not precise. You can see that my ball and shadow aren’t perfect, and yours don’t have to be either for this shading exercise to work. Just lightly draw a circle and try to get the shadow in about the same position as in the photo.

Fist Shading of a ball. C. Rosinski

First Shading

Step Two – First Shading

Using the same overhand grip, but lowering the angle of the pencil so that the full side of the lead is on the paper, very lightly shade the entire ball.

Use short, back and forth hatching motions, all in the same direction, with a very light pressure on the pencil.

The hatches should be between 1/2 to 3/4 inches long, so you’ll need to make three or four passes across the ball to fill it completely.

Erased highlight on a ball. C. Rosinski

Define Highlight

Step Three – Define Highlight

Define the main highlight, near the top left of the ball, by shading the area around it to a slightly darker value.

The highlight’s edge is fuzzy and indistinct, so make the hatching surrounding it uneven and the edges will look “soft”.

Lightly shade the rest of the ball again.

Shade darkest shadow on ball. C. Rosinski

Shade Main Shadow

Step Four – Shade Main Shadow

Take time to look at the most obvious shadow on the ball and notice that it’s crescent shaped. It starts at the right top of the ball, above the cast shadow, and it ends at the bottom of the ball, near the left edge of the cast shadow. Shape the shadow as you shade it in by making several passes over the area until it darkens.

To make sure the shading isn’t getting too dark, squint your eyes at your drawing and compare it to the photo.

Darken the right side of the ball into a slightly lighter value than the shadow you just shaded, being careful to leave the small reflected highlight at the bottom of the ball.

Add contour shading on ball. C. Rosinski

Add Subtle Shading

Step Five – Add Subtle Shading

To make the shading look more realistic, you’ll need to add the more subtle (or contour) shadows. Squint your eyes at both the photo and the drawing again. Since this shading method creates a rough texture, squinting your eyes will help you see it as smoother and more unified.

To refine the shading over the entire ball, keep your eyes on the photo and only take quick glances at the shading on your drawing as you work. You can compare the two more easily this way. Use several light layers to gradually darken the shading until it matches the photo.

Shaded cast shadow of ball. C. Rosinski

Shade Cast Shadow

Step Six – Shade Cast Shadow

To add the cast shadow, first take the time to observe that the shadow is darker than the ball at the bottom and is lighter than the ball near the top. Tip the pencil up on its point so you can hatch in the small area of the shadow under the ball, and then lower its angle again to gradate that value into the rest of the shadow.

To finish, tip the pencil to its point and darken the right edge of the ball slightly, just under the center point. Gradate that line into the body of the ball so that it will look “sharper” on the shadow side and “softer” on the ball side. Draw a sharp dark line underneath the ball’s bottom edge in the same way, but blend this line into the shadow.

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Carol’s Starter Drawing Kit

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

Draw well, draw strong, never stop!