My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Drawing Lesson 1 c - Shading an Apple

Okay, now we get to take everything you’ve learned on the last two lessons and apply it to something real – an apple in this case.


Here are two photographs of the same apple. One is black and white, and the other color. Look for the absolute black areas of each apple. You will notice that the black and white picture has stronger tones. I see black by the stem, as well as at the base. On the colored photo, I only see black at the base.


Black and white drawings are more dramatic, just like the photo. Your blacks will be stronger. Your tones will be stronger. You have to make up for the lack of color.


Look at the color photo, near the bottom of the apple and a little to the right. Can you see where it has a slight reddish flush to it? In the black and white photo, it is translated into a slightly darker tone.


Now look at the photos and concentrate on the highlights. Can you see three? One is behind the stem, two are in front of the stem, more to the right. If you look closely, the highlight furthest right is not quite a 1 (or perfect white) in tone. It is a 2.


So the rest of the apple has a tone of 3 or darker. Now look at the darkest area on the left side. Can you see how it curves down and to the right, getting lighter as it goes? This is a gradual transition, just like you did in shading lesson 1 b.


You’ll notice some funny things going on in the shaded area on the left. Near the bottom, for some strange reason, it gets lighter, then darker. This is because light is hitting the surface of the table that the apple is resting on, then reflecting up and into the apple. So is the shadow, just at the very bottom. Another area of reflected light is on the very bottom of the right side, too.


Okay, now that you can see all those things, we’re ready to start.

TIP: if you are using fine pencils, use your 2H for basic sketching - you can switch to your other pencils as needed once you get into your shading. Don't use your 6H for basic sketching because it will gouge the paper and don't use your B, because it is too dark to easily erase if you mess up.

If you are using a standard number 2 pencil, draw very lightly.


Now, draw an outline of an apple. You can do this by drawing a circle. If you need to, you can take a cup, turn it upside down and trace the outside.

The stem is just two straight lines at an angle, with a circle on top. Then draw a curving line at its base.

The shadow is a pancake shape coming off the right bottom and laying well beyond the left side.


Go back into the apple and very lightly circle where the highlights are. Make sure to make the circles larger and wider than you think you need. You can always shade them smaller, but it’s very hard to erase out a perfect white, so that’s why we make them a little big.


Now go to the very base of the apple. Using pressure, shade a thin band of perfect 10 (or black) around the base of the apple, right up close to the bottom. Then you can shade into the pancake shaped shadow. See how the shadow isn’t a perfect 10 as it gets away from the apple on the left? It goes from a 10 to a 9, then in places, an 8.


Now, avoiding your circled highlights, shade the entire apple a 3. Keep your strokes nice and even. To be able to make longer strokes, slide your fingers up your pencil until they are holding it near the eraser area. Now try making wide strokes. It will be easier. And it takes some practice to get the strokes smooth and even, so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t come right away. Just keep going.

When you’ve shaded the entire thing, you can use your blending stick (if you’d like) to smooth your 3 tone inside the apple.


Alright, now we get to do the really fun stuff! If you’re using fine pencils, grab your B. If you’re using a regular number 2, here we go. Look at the photos of the apple. Really pay attention to the darkest shadow on the top left side of the apple. It is darkest right on the edge, probably a 9. As it comes down and around the apple, it turns into an 8, then 7, then 6 and so on down to your 3. Begin shading your apple.

TIP: Watch out for making hard lines anywhere, especially inside the apple. All edges need to softly change from one tone to the next.


Once you have the first shadow coming down and around, go to the base of the apple on the left side and bring the shadow up and along the base going right.



Now go to the far right side, Just along the edge, start your shading at about a 7 then as you shade left into the apple, change your shades to a 6, then 5, etc. Curve a shadow around the base, watching out for that cool reflected light on the bottom right.


Isn’t it looking pretty?

Go back and smooth any places that are rough and add more tone if needed. Shade in your stem. Notice that the outside lines are dark, going lighter in the center of the stem. The top circle of the stem is mostly one shade, about a 4-5.

STEP 9 OPTIONAL: Using a Blending Stump (Blending Stick)

Okay, this step is only if you’d like to. You might just like the look of your apple the way it is. If so, leave it.

But if you’d like to get it ultra smooth, grab your blending stick and let’s go.

Always clean your blending stick out before you start. (Take it to another sheet of scratch paper, and gently rub the top, but NOT on the very tip or it will collapse. Tilt the blending stick slightly so the tip is barely touching, and using the top side, rub away. Roll the blending stick and rub until the entire top edge is clean.)

Now, starting immediately next to your highlights, blend out and away, working your lightest areas first.


You can see in this drawing below how I’ve only blended the area around the highlights under the stem.


Keep working your way out with the blending stick, doing all lighter areas first, then working into the darker areas. You will notice that in the lighter areas, the blending stick makes them darker, and in the darker areas, the blending stick steals away a little of the dark.


You may want to use the other end of the blending stick for the darkest areas, as it stains the blending stick and is hard to get out. Go ahead and blend the darkest area of the apple and then the shadow.


Another thing that happens when you use the blending stick is it will smooth out any texturing that happened. You may want a little. The photo shows lines and spots in places. If you like them, go ahead and put them back in with your pencil.

FINAL TIP: Don’t let the edges stay a hard line. Take your blending stick and gently rub the outer edges, pulling away slightly. I call this “FUZZING IT UP”. What this does is creates the illusion that the edge is still going (which it is, since the apple is round). Do this also on the pancake-shaped shadow below.

One thing a hard line does is create an edge, like the edge of the table. Unless it is an edge, always soften or fuzz up your outer lines and make the ‘line’ disappear.

Congratulations! You now know how to shade! Date this picture, sign it, and put it into a page protector in your 3-ring binder for protection.

If it didn’t turn out as good as you wanted it to, you have several options:

1) Give up (not recommended, because I’ll hunt you down and give you 30 lashes with a wet noodle)

2) Get stubborn. Here’s where being stubborn is a virtue. Do the drawing again. It will be better each time you do it. My first apples were pitiful. Trust me! I still do a bad one now and then.

3) Admit you learned something. Come on, you did! And learning is awesome! You WILL get better every single time you draw.


I bet you did a great apple, though! In fact, if you have a scanner or a digital camera, I’d love to see it! You can e-mail it to: If you’re willing, I’d even love to post it on my blog (please let me know if this is okay and if you want your name with it, or as an anonymous.)


As you know, all adults are just blessed with lots of free time (NOT!!). But if you happen to have some and need something to do, pick a simple subject – like a leaf, a rock, etc. – and draw it and shade it. Make sure you use a 10 and a highlight and all the shades in between. Practice really does make perfect!


So, next week, we get to learn to draw FORM. See you soon!


  1. Okay, I want to draw. Now. Even if it is another apple. Sigh. :)

  2. Leisha, I wonder if mechanics give discounts for drawings of apples? Loved your blog today!

  3. Thank you so much, Jonene! I create mosaics and have been asking every photographer I know how to shade and contrast better. And here is my answer in perfect steps! Should have asked an artist all along. Thanks a million. Truly!

    (And I'm so happy to have found your blog through Jolene and Susan!)

  4. Jackee, you are welcome and I'm glad you could come. I'd love to see your mosaics! If you have any special requests, art-wize, feel free to e-mail me at:

  5. Hi, Jonene. I just found your site, and I'm having so much fun. I am one of those people who never thought I could draw, so was super excited when I shaded my first apple, and it really looked like an apple!

    I have found a process I thought you might find interesting. In my iPad, there is an app called Photo Booth, and one of the apps in it is called Thermal Camera. When I take a picture with it, it changes the colors, which makes it so easy to see where shading needs to go. I will try to email you a couple of the pictures I've been using.

    But mostly I want to say thank you. Your instructions are so clear and easy to follow.

  6. wao me gusta no sabía como sombrear y ahora empezare a hacer mi 10 dibujos que me dejaron de tarea


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