SHADING SPHERES – Gradation, Form, Colour

Students use a single light source and shading to make a flat circle appear 3-dimensional first with black coloured pencil, and then with construction paper crayons.

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SHADING SPHERES – Gradation, Form, Colour


  • Crayola Construction Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") - Black
  • Crayola Coloured Pencils - Black
  • Crayola Construction Paper Crayons
  • Crayola Sketchbooks or Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper


Step 1
  1. Examine the drawing of a sphere and notice the placement of lights and darks.
  2. To make a flat circle appear 3-dimensional you make some areas dark and other areas light in a systematic way.
Step 2
  1. Practice shading a circle to create the illusion of depth.
  2. Start by drawing a circle.
  3. Choose a light source.
  4. Leave a highlight closest to the light source.
  5. Use a black coloured pencil.
  6. Gradually build up layers of colour from dark to light by applying light, medium and heavy pressure.
  7. Leave a small area of white at the base of the circle to indicate reflected light.
  8. Add a cast shadow.
Step 3
  1. Practice shading at least 3 circles in your sketchbook.
  2. Experiment with how you apply pressure with the black coloured pencil as you are shading.
  3. Try for smooth gradation from one value to the next.
Step 4
  1. Now try colouring a sphere using construction paper crayons to get a luminous effect.
  2. Use pencil to draw a circle on black construction paper.
  3. Use analogous colours, for example, red, red-orange, and orange, to move from dark, to medium, to light over the surface of the circle.
Step 5
  1. Blend colours to get a smooth transition from one colour to the next.
  2. To do this first colour an area with one colour, then colour over it with the transition colour until they mix together.
  3. You may want to use purple to deepen the darkest shadow near the bottom of the sphere.

Step 6
  1. Add highlights and a cast shadow.
  2. Polish the drawing by lightly rubbing it with a soft tissue.
Illustrated Crayon Character