Two teams meet with one ball in the middle, and today our focus is on basketball. In this basketball how to draw tutorial, we’ll focus on the ball itself. Its current design is quickly and easily recognizable, with its view of four lines that join at each end of the ball.
First, I’ll go over a little bit of the ball’s evolution because a bit of history is always helpful to our process. Then I’ll show you how to draw a basketball by breaking down its design to demonstrate that those lines we see are three shapes.
I’ll cover how to construct a sphere, the form of a basketball, and then take you one easy step at a time through drawing the shape, form, and curved lines to create your basketball drawing.
Let’s learn about basketballs!
Basketball was invented in 1891 and began with a soccer-like ball, which wasn’t dribbled. Basketball didn’t receive its ball design until 1894, getting a brown four leather-paneled ball with stitching similar to a football. The dribbling technique was introduced into the game in 1897, and by 1937 basketball was popular enough to have its own league, which began as the NBL–The National Basketball League.
With its growing popularity as a sport, basketball needed a redesigned ball because fans had difficulty following a brown ball on a brown court. So, around 1950, the ball was redesigned to be the orange color we’re all familiar with today. Then, in 1971, the NBA redesigned the basketball again, evolving it from four leather panels to eight leather panels which improved players’ ability to grip and dribble the ball.
I’ve included a helpful video I found below. If you’d like to see how the basketball design has changed over the years, and if you’d like to learn more about basketball’s history, click here.
In this drawing tutorial, we’ll focus on how to draw a basketball with its current design.
Exploration and study: Basketball drawing sketching
Whenever I draw something new, I start with study sketches to help me understand my subject’s shapes, forms, lines, and other features. Since this is how to draw a basketball, I did a few sketches to learn what makes a basketball look like it does, and as always, we start with a few references to help us get familiar with basketballs.
Typical basketball features: Curved line and horizontal line
Each curved line on a basketball is part of three shapes. First, it appears to have a vertical and horizontal line bisecting its middle, but they’re vertical and horizontal circular bands around the ball.
How to draw a basketball: form construction
A basketball is a hollow sphere made of eight leather panels. To learn how to draw a basketball, first, we must understand how to draw circles and spheres.
Now that we understand the basketball’s sphere form let’s briefly look at its insides with form dissection.
How to draw a basketball: Form dissection
I mentioned earlier that basketballs are hollow. So if you need to draw a deflated or cut open basketball, it helps to practice dissecting a sphere.
Here are some step-by-step images for sphere dissection. In addition, I have more on how to draw a sphere, and here is an example I created for a hollowed-out sphere half.
How to draw a basketball step by step instructions
Now that we’ve covered the essential part of how to draw a basketball, its form, we can move on to the other most recognizable feature: the lines, pattern, and texture.
As mentioned earlier, what appears to be a curved line or a set of lines is three shapes: one verticle circle, one horizontal circle, and one that resembles insect wings or a band-aid.
Drawing a realistic basketball
A simple circle is clear enough to draw, and we covered that in a previous step. Keep in mind that the circles needed for the pattern must go all the way around the ball, create thickness, add depth, and take on much darker shades. The other shape that wraps around the ball and resembles a wing takes more effort and concentration.
I’ve created a video to demonstrate how I draw each from two simple views to clarify this shape.
Basketball drawing step-by-step
Next, I’ve created a set of step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball. It helps to remember that the curved lines that create the shapes and patterns have depth. They are not level with the rest of the ball’s surface but instead make a slight depression. It’s important to indicate this for a realistic basketball drawing.
Drawing a cartoon basketball
Cartoon basketball drawings need to emphasize lines and shapes more because they are the opposite in their execution to a realistic drawing in that they don’t focus on three-dimensional form. Of course, some form will still be indicated because of the way the line will curve around the body of the ball, but overall it will still have the “flat” cartoon look.
For cartoon basketball drawings, it’s also helpful to include an outlining contour and emphasize the orange color and cel-shading method of applying light and shadow. Here are some examples of cartoon basketballs on Google Images and a few step-by-step images for how to draw a basketball in a cartoony way.
The significant difference between how to draw basketball realistically vs. as a cartoon mostly comes down to depth, texture, and handling of light and shadow. The cartoon style starts with a circle, is fun, quick, and purposefully simplifies realism. It lends itself very well to exaggeration and stylization and can be appealing to all ages.
The texture and colors of basketballs
I’m not gonna lie; drawing the texture on basketballs with pencil and paper, even if it’s just a sketch, is a tedious pain in the butt. However, digitally, it’s easy-peasy. If you prefer to learn how to draw a basketball in a hyper-realistic way, you’ll need some texture reference. I’ve included some below and a trace (more imprinting) image to offer a clearer idea of the small shapes that create the ball’s texture.
How to light a basketball
I made a basic lighting example for how to draw a basketball for light and shadow reference with a pencil (graphite) and paper. The ball is drawn the same as in the earlier steps, I just added basic lighting.
Lighting a cartoon basketball with Cel shading
The steps for lighting a cartoon basketball are simple as there’s no need to blend with cel-shading. Using a curved line or two helps create a guide for placing the flat tones that create the cel-shaded look.
Basketball drawing in perspective – start with a sphere!
To learn how to draw a basketball in perspective is the same as drawing a sphere in perspective. As long as you make sure you have a cube rather than a rectangular box in perspective, you’ll get a nice round sphere to start creating your basketball from. After that it’s just a matter of practice, practice, repeat!
Thanks for joining me to learn how to draw a basketball!
Thank you so much for stopping by my how to draw a basketball article! I hope you found this helpful and fun. I’m always happy to hear from my visitors and readers, so if you have any comments, questions, or feedback for me please leave them in the comments section below.
Welcome to another “How to draw…” adventure! Today we’ll explore how to draw a pumpkin! There is a lot of variety, and a pumpkin can be more than you’d think. So in this drawing tutorial, please explore and learn with me, step-by-step, how to draw pumpkins and other squash.
First, we’ll take a brief look into what a pumpkin is, so we know something about what we’re drawing, then we’ll dive into exploration and study sketch activities with reference images.
What is a pumpkin?
My interaction with pumpkins happens during the fall, the time of year when we see many a Halloween pumpkin decorating neighborhoods all over the country. But, interestingly, the word “pumpkin” covers much more than a kiddo’s Halloween pumpkin.
A pumpkin is one of many cultivated species of winter squash. Pumpkins are native to North America and are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. We tend to think of the pumpkins that are round, smooth, orange ones with a ribbed pattern on their skin and a thick shell housing seeds and pulp.
These familiar pumpkins are part of the Cucurbita pepo cultivar, just one of the five cultivar categories of squash:
Many squash varieties look wildly different from our traditional Halloween pumpkin and are still called “pumpkins,” which gives us artists so much more to work with. ??The word “pumpkin” is interchangeable with the terms “winter squash” and “squash,” including summer squash. Botanically speaking, all pumpkins (even the Halloween ones ?) are winter squash, and all are fruits because they are seed-bearing structures from flowering plants.
The fifth cultivar category, Cucurbita ficifolia, is biochemically different from other cultivars and more closely resembles a melon. While it looks and grows similarly to pumpkins, it is visually more melon-like, so I didn’t include it in this drawing tutorial. However, the process for drawing melons isn’t much different from pumpkins and other squash, so you can still learn how to draw the more melon-like squash with this tutorial if you’d like.
The uses for pumpkins and squash are quite broad, ranging from cooking and eating every part of the pumpkin to pressing its seeds for pumpkin seed oil, decorative and medicinal uses, competitive growing, and other competitive sports such as Pumpkin chunking.
We now have a decent idea of what a pumpkin is and what family, friends, kids, and all kinds of people do with them. With our background research done, it’s time to study the shapes and forms of a pumpkin and other squash.
Exploration and study
Our first step in studying a pumpkin is to gather some references and create a reference board. Some search time on Google is the simplest approach, but feel free to use mine if you’d like. The first image on the right here is of the Cucurbita pepo cultivar group. We can see quite a variety of shapes, proportions, surface textures, tones, and colors. For example, we can see spheres, ovoids, smooth textures, bumpy textures, pear-shaped, deeply ribbed, shallow ribs, ridges, and more.
The next group, Cucurbita maxima, includes the same wide variety of features and the unique Turban squash.
In the Cucurbita moschata group, we see squash varieties having more cylindrical, long goose-necked, and super bumpy surface texture qualities. In contrast, the Cucurbita argyrosperma group includes some very tear-drop shaped varieties.
This last reference I created focuses on the stem portion of a pumpkin. When your subject has multiple “parts,” so to speak, it’s helpful to have references for your study of each.
If you have live pumpkins and squash to practice from life, use those! Drawing from life is an essential skill and one of the Art Fundamentals.
Once you’re all set with references, start drawing what you see to get familiar with the natural variety of shapes. It doesn’t matter which reference you start with, and none of your sketches need to be rendered or “finished” in this step. The exploration and study of how to draw a pumpkin are all about seeing the common natural shapes and forms, their variations, and understanding how all the different forms are put together. The best way to train your eye to see these things is to draw what you see.
It’s beneficial and encouraged to begin with the most simple shape you can see for each sketch. We build forms from shapes and lines, after all. If you’re unfamiliar with forms, my Form in Art article goes in-depth on just that.
Time to put pencil to paper! Speaking of paper, I do most of my sketches by hand with a pencil and a sketchbook to keep things simple and clear.
Here are my exploration and study sketches for how to draw a pumpkin:
Normally, I’m not this neat in my sketchbook ?. I clean things up, so it’s nice and clear for you guys, but I rather enjoy making an unholy mess in my sketchbook ?.
You’ll notice that I drew the flat basic shape first to get an idea of the forms I’d need to construct, and then I went about constructing them–but even during construction, I still start with a 2-D shape and build from there. Then, once I have the basic shape, I begin to understand how the form construction needs to go.
For example, with the “traditional” pumpkin I started with at the top left of the first page of my sketches, it was initially challenging to learn to draw the ribbed forms we all recognize pumpkins for. It took some practice to get a feel for that particular how to draw a pumpkin step. Still, after a few sketches, it became clear that I had to 1) understand the shape and form of the “rib” first, and 2) understand how the “ribs” are positioned relative to the overall shape and proportions of the pumpkin.
The “rib” forms are essentially curving upside-down triangles–kind of like a puffy pizza slice wrapped around a sphere. During construction, that translates into wedge or talon-like forms of varying thickness and length wrapped around a sphere or bowl form. Here’s an example of what I mean:
It helps to line up the top and bottom of the “ribs” using ellipses, which is why you see plenty of ellipses, bowls, and circles in my sketches. The exploration and study process is intended to help you see the “bones” of the subject. When we know the primary shapes and variations, we can begin to design and construct with less reliance on our references.
Shape breakouts and natural variations
As I studied how to draw a pumpkin, I found common shapes for drawing any pumpkin or squash are:
a rectangle with rounded corners
a rounded crescent
We can start constructing and combining forms now that we have a shape profile to work from. I like to create a quick reference guide to the primary profiles and variations that I hope you find helpful as you learn to draw a pumpkin.
It’s straightforward when you compare it to the reference images. By studying my ref boards, I’ve paid close attention to what the distinct shapes and shape variations are and then draw each one. Next, it’s time to understand the common forms and construct them.
Form construction is about beginning to put the pieces of what we studied together. The slideshows below will walk you through a few how to draw a pumpkin construction demos.
How to draw a pumpkin – Step-by-step form construction demo 1
This example features more of an elongated shape, but that’s okay. We can use whichever shapes we want ???. I always try to begin with a gesture line to add a sense of movement and character. Next, drawing from my reference guide, I add the basic shapes on top of the gesture.
The next step (second slide) is to connect them and then add contour lines (third slide) to add a sense of depth and volume. Lastly, I erase my construction lines and darken my drawing.
How to draw a pumpkin – Form construction demo 2
The process for the next demo is the same, and only the shapes are different. Once you understand your subject and the process, you can begin playing with the profile, silhouette, lines, angles, sizes, and proportions until you land on something you’re happy with.
I took this last form construction demo a little further to help segue into form dissection and interior forms in the next section. Like the other slideshow tutorials, the steps are the same, but I have added a couple.
You’ll find that as you add more complexity to your forms, the steps are repeated, and the only thing that changes is the size and nature of the information you’re adding.
We begin with the largest shapes to build the primary and largest forms first, and from there, we repeat the process with the next largest (or medium-sized) ones on top.
How to draw a pumpkin – Form construction demo 3
This final how-to draw a pumpkin construction demo gives you a brief look into how the process repeats. After step 3, a simple form has been built, and it’s ready to be added onto.
In steps 4 and 5, I repeat the same steps, adding simple lines and shapes on top of my initial form to add another layer of complexity and interest that gives a better visual description of the pumpkin’s form.
In step 6, I add the contour lines that give me divisions in the form that I can then cut away for step 7, drawing a rough indication of the interior.
Form dissection and interior forms
At this point, we know how to draw a pumpkin! But do we know how to draw a pumpkin on the inside? ?
Not to worry! We still have our trusty ref boards with images that give us an idea about what’s going on with a pumpkin’s interior. I didn’t do a super in-depth rundown of the interior, but the process is still the same as above using the seed interior body information we find in the references.
Here are my examples of form dissection and a little bit of fun with the interiors.
A word about details
All the most fun and interesting things to draw have plenty of details that give them their character and make them look really cool. But, for all that they add, details only make up about twenty percent of your drawing–and they take up about eighty percent of your time.
That’s one of the reasons they should be left for the end.
Plus, no matter whether you’re learning how to draw a pumpkin, a mushroom, or anything else, all details (smaller forms & patterns) sit on top of larger forms that must be worked out first.
I don’t count light and shadow or color as details, and they are each their own thing and deserve dedicated articles to explain and demonstrate what they entail.
For clarification, I’ve included some sketches as an illustration of the difference between primary forms and detail forms.
Pumpkin drawing tutorial: How to draw a pumpkin step-by-step
Step 1: Thumbnails & Gesture lines.
Start with some small thumbnails, and then, just as before, add a gesture line and shapes.
Thumbnails of the simple shape combinations you want to use offer a helpful roadmap for your form construction. After that, a gesture line (also called a “line of action”) will help add a sense of movement and life.
Remember, you’ve studied pumpkins and squash, so play around and enjoy!
Feel free to follow along and copy my sketches to get started, but I encourage you to take these examples and apply them to any design you want! You’ve got this!
Step 2: Another Gesture line!
It felt necessary to add a second gesture line for the top area.
There are times it feels more dynamic to have an additional gesture armature to build on.
Step 3: Add the basic shapes.
These will be the basis for our largest form, the pumpkin’s body.
Compare what we have now to our little thumbnail in the upper lefthand corner, and you’ll see we’re quite close to the idea there.
Step 4: Shape adjustments.
Here I added another circle and ellipse to adjust the overall contour in the front and back of the form.
The green ellipse will add a “rib” bump in the rear that we can see from the front, and the orange circle in front will add more depth.
Step 5: More shape adjustments.
I jumped the gun a little bit here and started filling out the stem form? , but we can roll with it!
The orange ellipses show where I added the top and bottom planes, and the green lines in the middle show how I connected them to create the stem.
Step 6: Contour tweaking.
No matter how you start, you can always tweak and adjust things to suit what you want them to look like.
I decided my overall form looked a little too round and soft for my taste, so I decided to use a few divots and curves to create more interesting plane shifts.
Step 7: Clean up & darken.
At this point, my sketch felt finished, so I cleaned it up a bit and darkened the lines I wanted to keep in the design.
I didn’t erase all of the construction lines this time. Sometimes, when you’re not adding light and shadow, contour lines, or a lot of detail, leaving light indications of the construction lines can increase the sense of depth.
I decided to make this how to draw a pumpkin article a little more robust since there are so many varieties out there. More variety means more practice! So here is another how to draw a pumpkin step-by-step tutorial!
Step 1: Gesture line!
Don’t worry; I practice what I preach! The thumbnail sketch for this how to draw a pumpkin example is at the top right in the 1st one above. Take a peek; you’ll see ?.
Step 2: You know the drill! Add those shapes!
This is still how to draw a pumpkin, and the process goes on like a good beat.
I added the ellipses for the top and bottom planes of the stem and a narrow trapezoid shape to act as an envelope for the shape I’m after.
Step 3: Motto, motto!
Next, I put in circles to continue building the form.
Step 4: Building out other forms.
We know there’s a stem, so let’s get it in there!
Step 5: Connect!
Step 6: Build more on top.
I added the “ribs” for more form complexity and interest and to bring home the “pumpkin” feel.
Step 7: Contour tweaking.
I wanted to change the overall contour, so I did that here.
Step 8: Clean up and darken.
At the risk of OD’ing you on step-by-steps, I created a few that go through the same process with the stem forms.
Don’t worry; I know you’ve got this how to draw a pumpkin stuff down by now. I’ll put the rest in as simple visuals so you can peruse them at your leisure ?.
Another how to draw a pumpkin stem demo–this one is more fun!
One more, and then I promise I’ll be done with the how to draw a pumpkin stem stuff.
How to draw a pumpkin from Imagination
Guess what? Except for the exploration and study sketches, most of the pumpkins from my demos have been drawn from imagination!
I used my references for inspiration, but the rest came from my brain ?. It’s an awesome feeling, and I bet you’re experiencing it, too! You’ve seen the process many times by now, so keep drawing and experimenting!
How to draw a pumpkin in Perspective
I know I’ve drilled this process into you ad nauseam at this point, so I won’t pile on with the more technical practice of Perspective. Instead, I’ve included a visual walkthrough.
Here are some 1-point perspective examples:
Here are some 2-point perspective examples:
How to draw a pumpkin from imagination: Sketching in Perspective.
I drew all these perspective sketches from my imagination. Now, for my 3-point perspective example, I decided to push things a little more fun.
Light and shadow: How to light your pumpkin
Light & shadow, like Perspective, is a whole other conversation on its own. So in my Fundamentals of Light series, I’m covering all the stuff and gubbins of light and shadow (slowly though, cuz it’s huge!)
In the meantime, here’s a lighting demo for the sketch I did above in 3-point perspective.
A word about color
I did say, “A word.” ?
In all seriousness, I prioritize solid drawing skills before painting and using color because those things must live on a solid drawing with solid forms.
Playing with pumpkin drawings: Exploring shape language and style variations.
Drawing is fun! So have fun and draw some funky pumpkins!
Here are a few of mine. I gave some of them a body, a face, a mouth, a nose–oh, my! I made pumpkin characters and even a cartoon pumpkin or two ?. See? Fun!
Now, you try! ????
How to draw a pumpkin teacher, signing off!
Thank you so much for having the patience and intestinal fortitude to stick with me to the end! I appreciate you spending some of your time with me and my how to draw a pumpkin drawing tutorial. I know it was long, and I hope you’ve found it helpful.
If you have any questions or feedback for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you guys, and I hope you’ll join me for another “how to draw” adventure!
Welcome to the first of my “How to draw…” drawing tutorials!
In today’s “How to draw…”, we’ll talk about how to draw a mushroom! I’ll cover everything you need to create your own mushroom drawing and explain the different kinds of forms your mushroom drawing will need, like mushroom caps, stems, and rings.
I’ll cover how to draw a mushroom from basic shapes to form construction, from imagination, in Perspective, how to light your mushroom, and more.
Just a heads up, this is not an easy drawing tutorial. It’s not difficult, but it is technical. I’m a professionally trained Designer, Illustrator, and Concept Artist, and my explanations tend to be technical and thorough. There is more than one step-by-step guide here. My goal is to teach you to create a different kind of mushroom drawing–your own! I want to teach you to draw every different kind of mushroom you want, in various sizes, so your mushroom drawing looks like whatever you want it to.
I’d rather not give you a static template to copy. Where’s the fun in that? Also, I don’t think it counts as teaching if I say “copy this,” you know? After this drawing tutorial, you won’t need another step-by-step guide.
If you want easy drawing tutorials, this may not be the article you’re looking for. If you like a thorough step-by-step guide and drawing tutorials that teach you to draw whatever you want, I got you! It’s a different kind of drawing tutorial, and I hope it works for you. ?
There’s a lot to get into, so let’s get started!
What is a mushroom exactly?
It may not seem obvious, but it’s important to know what you’re drawing, and that means learning a bit about your subject. After all, it’s impossible to draw something you know nothing about. So, let’s talk about what mushrooms are.
A mushroom is “the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground, on soil, or its food source” (from Wikipedia). When we refer to mushrooms, we’re usually referring to those with a stem (or stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae) on the underside of the cap. The gills produce spores that help the fungus spread.
There are over 50,000 mushroom species globally, and they tend to be grouped into four general categories: edible mushrooms, toxic mushrooms, psychoactive “magic” mushrooms, and medicinal mushrooms.
Mushrooms represent food, a hobby (mushroom hunting), or fantasy entertainment as part of stories like Alice in Wonderland, characters like Toad from Nintendo’s Super Mario, or part of the deliciously drawn food in anime series’ such as Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma. Fantasy allows us to play with what a mushroom could be.
Before we play in possibilities, let’s explore and study the structures that give mushrooms their character.
Mushroom drawing: Understanding the structures.
To draw a mushroom from imagination, we must first study the shapes and forms that create its structures. Once we understand the basic anatomical structures, we can draw mushrooms in any way we choose. Let’s begin by gathering references to study.
Exploration & study
The first step in exploring and studying a subject is to find or create references to study from. For this step, I recommend creating a reference board.
Here is the reference board I created:
I create my reference boards in Photoshop, but I imagine it works in any digital painting application. A reference board is essentially a collage of images. It can also be created with a Google image search (or books), a printer (or copy machine), scissors, poster board, glue, and plenty of patience.
As you follow along here to practice how to draw a mushroom, please feel free to use my reference board.
To learn how to draw a mushroom, we need to really observe what mushrooms look like naturally. First, look for repeating shapes and consistent characteristics, like how a mushroom’s cap is always on top of the stem. Then, look for naturally occurring variations in the shapes, like how a mushroom stem can be long and thin or short and thick, etc.
Step 2 for learning how to draw a mushroom is to draw several from reference (or from life) to understand the shapes and forms that make up its anatomical structures and how they are put together. Again, it helps to keep your earlier observations in mind as you draw.
Here are my exploration and study sketches for how to draw a mushroom:
It’s helpful to draw the flat shape combinations you see literally. As you can see in my sketches, I drew small flat versions next to each study. This helps me get an overall grasp of which shapes are present in the subject.
The major structures of a mushroom are:
There are other areas to note, such as the margin and scales on the mushroom cap, but it’s easy to tell that these are much smaller shapes–which makes them details, and we leave those alone until we get toward the end of our process.
Two more forms grow underground, the Cup (Volva) and Mycelial threads, and they look cool–but if it grows underground, it’s less likely to be visible. If it grows underground, we don’t often see it and are less familiar with it–so it’s less likely to make it into your design. If you’d like to study these forms, you can find references here.
Here are a few more of my mushroom studies:
Remember, these are studies to help you understand mushroom shapes and forms. So I encourage you to let loose! I mean that literally–draw loosely! These are for your learning, so they should be whatever you need them to be. I make a hideous mess in my sketchbook when I’m trying to understand something, and that’s fine.
I had to clean things up to make them clear for this tutorial, but otherwise, my sketchbook looks like a messy sanctuary of notes and funky drawings. I love it ?
Your sketchbook is where you can think out loud on paper and be yourself. There is no need to censor yourself. ❤
Shape breakouts and natural variations
After drawing several mushroom studies, you’ll understand how to draw a mushroom well enough to begin breaking out the shapes and natural variations of major mushroom structures. I like to think of it as visual tinkering. ?
Let’s ask ourselves: what are the basic shapes and shape variations for those structures? Let’s have a look:
Each mushroom structure has a limited variety of shapes. For example, a mushroom cap appears most often as either a lima bean, a half oval or ellipse, a fat crescent, cone-like, or an upside-down and rounded trapezoid shape.
A stem, the second mushroom form of import, has a box or rectangular shape (which makes a cylindrical form) and can vary in length, width, and proportion. A mushroom ring (annulus) is usually a conical skirt shape, and in some cases, can look like a tube wrapped around the stem near the base of the cap. Lastly, mushroom gills resemble exposed fish gills, but it’s simpler to see them as a pattern of lines or skinny wedge shapes for drawing purposes.
I know this sounds technical and nuanced. That’s intentional. My goal is to help you draw mushrooms any way you want. I’d rather offer you wings than limit you to a static template to replicate.
Our next step is to construct mushroom forms using the shapes we observed from our studies.
Form construction is essentially the process of connecting shapes with lines and other shapes. Beyond that, advancing your drawing involves adding movement and volume with contour and cross-contour lines, gesture, and light & shadow. It sounds like a lot, but with practice, you’ll get the hang of it! ??
Let’s build some mushroom forms!
Below I’ve demonstrated the form construction process using the knowledge and shape information from my study sketches. Now I can create mushrooms that look any way I want, and so can you!
I started with the standard white mushroom you can find easily in a grocery store and constructed a cap slice.
Step 1 was to draw the shapes that help define the overall form.
In step 2, to create the lima bean form with depth and volume, I drew another set of the same shapes on top but slightly shifted down and to the right. This creates the space between the shapes that give us the illusion of depth and volume once we connect everything.
Adding contour and/or cross-contour lines helps reinforce the sense of depth and volume of the form.
In my second mushroom form construction demo, I chose a cone-shaped mushroom cap and repeated the process. Again, I began by drawing in the form’s major shapes: a circle first, then an exaggerated arch, connected by an ellipse.
Once again, I used contour lines toward the end to add to the illusion of depth and volume. I also added a circular “lip” on the views that show the very bottom of the cap. This gives a sense of thickness, which aids the illusion of volume.
For this mushroom drawing demo, I chose a slightly oblong half oval shape. The process remains the same. I used two different sized circles to create the oblong feel of the shape and enclosed them with lines to connect them. To create depth, I added an ellipse at the base that connects the two corners of the oval. Next, I added a smaller ellipse to create an opening for a stem and a plane change boundary for the gills.
I constructed a few mushroom stem forms with the same process. The stems tend to be cylindrical, but sometimes they look almost completely round.
As a rule, I like to create my demos in traditional media because 1) it’s best to start learning with traditional media and get really familiar with sketching in your sketchbook, and 2) I don’t want anyone to think they need digital tools to learn how to draw. You do not need digital tools to learn how to draw a mushroom or anything else. I have suggestions about tools for beginners, but digital can be a later thing.
That being said, I created this next sketch on the fly digitally (as I was writing?) because I felt there should be a construction demo that included both major mushroom forms: the mushroom cap and the stem. The very bottom of the construction demo section seemed like a good place for it, too.
These demonstrations are of basic form construction. Additional shape information can make the forms more complex add detail, but I strongly encourage you to make a habit of first getting comfortable studying and constructing the larger forms. Details and complexity live on top of major foundational forms. They don’t exist on their own.
A word about details
Details are a treat for the eyes and can be fun to draw, but for as much attention as they command, their place in the process is toward the end.
Here’s an example along with the original reference:
I’ve shown the major forms for the mushroom cap, the stem, and the plane for the gills in my sketch. The mushroom on the left of the sketch is an example of the major forms without details, and the mushroom on the right has some of the details drawn on top of the major forms. Details add fun, interest, and more information–but we can still tell the drawing on the left is a mushroom without them.
I highlighted the details on the right-hand side mushroom and then broke them out independently. When details are the focus, they give very little information about what the actual subject is.
Sometimes additional details are necessary for clear visual communication. For example, when you’re drawing the inner portion or the dissected view of your subject. However, since mushrooms already have a large variety of possible surface texture shape information, I chose not to dive into inner portion or dissected view drawings for this drawing tutorial.
How to draw a mushroom from Imagination: Invention and Experimentation
At this point, you know how to draw a mushroom! Congratulations!
Let’s tackle how to draw a mushroom from imagination! Don’t worry; the process is still the same! The only difference is that nowyouchoose the gesture and shapes your mushroom drawing will have. You’ve got this!
I find it helpful to play around with shape combinations before settling on a shape design to construct. Time to use what you’ve learned and using it to develop your own ideas! Booyah! ??
Here’s an example of my ideation and playing on paper:
If you want to try more adventurous shapes with your sketches to get a different kind of look, go for it! I kept it a little low-key here to ensure everything stayed clear, but I encourage you to try whatever variety, character, and zest you want!
Once you’ve developed an idea you like, follow the same process to build your forms. I’ll demonstrate with one of my sketches from above by going through how to draw a mushroom step-by-step.
How to draw a mushroom Step-by-step
With your rough sketch next to you, lay down a gesture line (curved line) to start building from. Since my mushroom is upright, I used mostly vertical lines. The gesture line will add a sense of movement and character to help your drawing feel more dynamic.
On top of your gesture line, add the basic shapes that make up the form you’re building. Here I’ve added a circle at the top for a rounded tip, two curved lines for a curvy cap of the mushroom, and a circle at the bottom for the base of the stem.
Next, it’s time to add the illusion of volume and depth by connecting the basic shapes. I’ve added an ellipse at the mushroom cap base and connected the ellipse of the stem base with the circle at the top of the mushroom cap.
With all the major shapes and forms roughed in, now is a good time to build in the form information for smaller structures like the mushroom’s ring. If you want more shape info for your mushroom drawing, like scales on the mushroom cap, this is a good stage to begin blocking those in.
At this stage, with most, if not all, of your forms roughed in, it’s a good time to start “truing up” or darkening the lines of the major forms for your final mushroom drawing.
I lightly blocked in the mushroom gill pattern. Following the gesture established earlier, I used vertical lines to create the gill pattern. You can do this step earlier than I did if you prefer. I made it a separate step for clarity’s sake.
I darkened the gills and added some thickness to the bottom margins of the mushroom cap and ring.
As part of the finishing stage, I erase the construction lines.
I used cross-contour lines to add depth and give more plane-change info. You don’t have to do this, but it does come in handy when you add light & shadow.
How to draw a mushroom in Perspective
Don’t worry; I’m not going to squish an entire lesson on Perspective drawing into a how to draw a mushroom tutorial. Perspective is its own thing, but I thought some examples of a mushroom drawing in perspective might be helpful.
Start with a horizon line, a vanishing point (VP), and some squares to set up boxes of various sizes in one-point perspective.
Once I’d drawn my boxes, I divided them to match my mushroom design proportions. This made constructing my design in perspective a bit easier.
I begin constructing my forms with the same process as before. The only difference is that shape placement needs to happen within the bounds of the boxes and planes to maintain the perspective.
The process for how to draw a mushroom doesn’t change for two or three-point perspective, but the set up for the perspective does change. I’ll cover perspective in separate articles, but I wanted to visually demo the process for you.
Here’s two-point perspective:
And here’s three-point perspective:
How to draw a mushroom from Imagination: Sketching in Perspective.
I thought it would be fun to demo how to sketch in perspective briefly. So I created my own perspective grids in Photoshop, printed them, and sketched on top of them. The basic idea is that your lines need to go in the same direction as the grid lines, and from there, you construct forms. I chose two-point perspective for this demo.
Light and Shadow: How to light your mushroom
Now that your sketchbook is overflowing with fabulous mushroom drawings & designs, of course, you’ll want to pick your favorites to take to finish! That means adding light and shadow.
I created a visual step-by-step demo below for how to light your mushroom design. For more in-depth info on light, please check out my Fundamentals of Light series.
A word about color
It was tempting to break out the colored pencils after this light and shadow demo, but…I firmly believe that Color & Light, like Light & Shadow, are their own thing. Using colored pencils here would certainly add another dimension to the sketch, and if that’s your jam, then go for it! I prefer to dive into that separately to help all my readers build a solid drawing foundation, and I think whipping out the colored pencils would distract from that. So, that’ll be a “later later” thing for me. ?
Fun with mushrooms: Exploring shape language and style variations
I thought it would be fun to show other types of shape language examples to wrap things up. My default is representational drawing, but that’s not everyone’s jam. Plus, we have to speak different shape languages, so here are some fun sketches I came up with to play around with different kinds of shapes in various sizes.
Anime/manga shape language
The shape language for anime and manga seems a little more “realistic” to me in how characters and other subjects are drawn, but just like other cartoons, it’s also very light on detail. It’s also exaggerated, of course.
This is my version of an anime/manga style set of mushrooms.
Cartoon shape language
The shape language for cartoons tends to be pretty flat, with very exaggerated shapes to fit the story’s tone. As a result, you can really stretch believability, experiment with different kinds of designs, and have a lot of fun.
This is my version of a couple of cartoon character mushrooms.
How to draw a mushroom, signing off!
Well…I’m exhausted, how about you? ??
That was a lot of stuff, I know. As always, Thank you so very much for hanging in there with me. There are so many options out there for drawing tutorials. You could’ve chosen any drawing tutorial, easy drawing tutorials, but you chose mine and hung in there with me. Thank you.❤ You are awesome!
I sincerely hope you found this article helpful and that you now feel more confident about drawing a mushroom. Please remember to have fun with it! This is your art, and it’s about you. Enjoy it! ❤
If you have any questions or feedback, please leave them in the comments below. Thank you again, and happy mushroom drawing!
Hello fellow artists, and welcome to my article about art references!
Access to useful art references, learning where to find them, and knowing how to create and use them are essential aspects of our art craft.
I’ll try to cover all the bases, including:
What art references are.
Why it is artists need and use references.
How artists’ options and use of art reference have evolved.
Sharing the way I learned to create reference boards.
A few alternative ways for creating your own references.
How to use references.
Where to find art references.
What is art reference?
Art reference comes in several different forms, but it’s essentially a tool to help us study and understand our subject’s shapes, forms, and other characteristics.
As a tool, art reference comes in two forms: three-dimensional or two-dimensional.
We can always draw what’s in front of us (Yay! ??).
Drawing from life is an essential skill and one of the art fundamentals. Having physical access to our subject–being able to touch, hold, and see it from different angles, gives us the best opportunity to understand all of its forms and characteristics.
But, let’s face it, much of what we draw is make-believe or not easily accessible. For example, I don’t know about you, but I’ve never caught any dragons, cyborgs, or fairies hanging out in my neighborhood. Likewise, when I needed to learn how to draw a pumpkin, I couldn’t just pop down to the store and easily buy one because it was springtime in Texas–not a pumpkin in sight (but plenty of lovely bluebonnets).
This is where two-dimensional references come in.
When I was learning how to draw a mushroom, creating my own reference board allowed me to study and learn about many different kinds of mushrooms I didn’t know existed. Another benefit of reference image hunting is that it allows us to see our subject through the eyes of the people who took the photographs, and that often inspires ideas we might not have thought of on our own.
To be clear, I’m not discouraging drawing from life—quite the contrary. If I had a woodland forest with creatures galore in my backyard, I’d happily hike there for hours to draw the references I need from there–but…I live in the suburbs, so that’s not a thing. ?
Why do we use art references?
Early in my artistic journey, I heard foolishness and dribble around using art references for drawing. Many people believe the rather silly notion that all artists should draw with nothing more than their “innate” skill, a few tools, and imagination.
Poppycock and utter nonsense!
Can we draw from imagination? Of course, but there’s so much more to being an artist. Our imagination and desire to create are the starting point and our sustaining thread. However, just because I can flip on a light switch doesn’t mean I’m qualified to perform electrical work. Likewise, buying food at the grocery store doesn’t mean I can cook edible meals. I’m sure you get the idea.
If you have no experience or familiarity with a subject–if you haven’t even seen it–how could you possibly draw it? Being naturally inclined or gifted at something doesn’t magically bestow omniscience upon us–we must still earn the knowledge, do the work, and use the tools. Art references are essential tools that help us create.
A necessity, not “cheating!
You may have also heard that using references is somehow “cheating” at art. ?
That is a load of hooey and rubbish! I call shenanigans!
We use books and other visuals to help us learn literally everything. When you cook a new dish for the first time, do you wing it from your imagination? Probably not. I bet you use the lovely cooking reference called a recipe, right? I don’t think anyone believes they’re “cheating” at cooking because they use a recipe. I used DIY YouTube videos to learn how to install a toilet myself and save money. That’s not “cheating” on home repair.
If anyone has ever dimmed the light of your confidence by suggesting it would be “cheating” your art to use a reference, I hope this puts your mind at ease. If you’re using references to help you study, practice, and create, you’re doing right by yourself and your artwork. Keep it up!
The evolution of art reference
We’ve all seen the paintings, drawings, and period pieces that give us an illustration of what it was like to be an artist in centuries past.
There were no smartphones, computers, or internet for easy access to online drawing tutorials. The creation of artwork couldn’t rely on stunning photo references in books, websites, or an app. Everything was analog and by hand for every person and every kind of job. When royalty or a noble family commissioned a portrait, they did not send a photo or two to the artist. Instead, they had to stand or sit, for hours at a time over several days or weeks, to acquire their likeness from an artist’s brush.
The two types of art references still existed even then, but artists couldn’t always create photo references to use in the studio. Leonardo Da Vinci mastered anatomy in the 15th century by dissecting more than 30 corpses and meticulously studying what he found through drawing. Two-dimensional reference had to be created through study from observation first and then taken into the studio and combined with the artist’s skill and memory. I’m sure imagination played a role, but that creativity was undeniably and greatly supported by robust study and drawing practice first.
The proliferation of the camera, and the use of the Camera Obscura as a drawing aid, didn’t come until after Da Vinci’s time. More widespread and commercial use of the camera began with the Daguerreotype and calotype processes around 1839. Still, it wasn’t until the invention of photographic film and the Brownie camera in the late 1900s and early 20th century that artists’ ability to create and access photo references really began to take off.
Since the first 35 mm cameras were made available to the public in 1913 and 1914, there has been a prolific expansion of photography and images. In addition, photographic device technology has advanced dramatically, taking us from the 35 mm camera to camera phones in less than a century.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, artists have had amazing access to make, find, and use reference photos. With the creation of Photoshop in 1988 and Google in 1998, we’ve gained an ever-growing and evolving slate of options for image access and manipulation.
I have found the Photoshop and Google combination particularly helpful and convenient. In addition, there are several ways to create reference images, and I’ll get into that below. But, first, I’d like to share with you the process I learned for making reference boards.
How to create your own art reference boards
With the extraordinary amount of information available globally and through the internet, you would think a simple Google search would provide an extensive library of DIY reference creation tutorials. Unfortunately, it turns out that’s not the case, so I decided to make my own.
More ways of creating reference materials
Reference boards are a great resource for the needs of our artwork, and they are only one of many ways to create and access reference resources.
You’ll remember earlier I mentioned there are two types of reference, two and three dimensional. So let’s talk about the avenues available to us under each type.
Two-dimensional art reference
From collage and studies from life to digital media, there are many 2D reference creation options.
Making drawings of subjects from observation is our most foundational and vital skill as artists. While it’s our most accessible and low-tech reference creation method, it is also, sadly, limited by our location and means to travel.
I live near a major American city, but it doesn’t boast high a high-quality zoo, aquarium, or natural history museum–ideal places for life drawing. Like most artists, my access to a live human model is modest at best, and requires that I drive a good distance from my home, pay a nominal fee, and hope I arrive early enough to get a good spot due to limited seating (and parking).
What we’re able to study from observation in our own neck of the woods depends greatly on the nature and infrastructure of the area and our own circumstances, schedules, and means.
Thankfully, the gaps in reference access can be successfully bridged in other ways.
Photography and found images
These days, it’s a relatively simple thing to get a disposable or one-time-use camera to take reference photos–though it’s also much less necessary now that most people have a camera and mini-computer in their pocket with smartphones.
With touchscreen technology and high megapixel cameras, our phones help us create reference photos at all the different sites we travel to throughout our days. Still, no one’s neighborhood has enough references for creating all their artwork. Found images, primarily from magazines and books, and the Google image search tool come in handy here.
Images can be studied directly from books and magazines to create drawings and studies–and nowadays, we even have e-books and digital copies of magazines, making things quite convenient.
If you’re on a budget (aren’t we all?), there’s always the option of visiting the library to study from their materials, take photos of the reference materials with your phone, check out the materials to borrow for a while or even make photocopies.
Collage (old school)
However you choose to create your reference photos, a useful way of compiling them is to create a collage–a one-stop-shop for all the images you’ve gathered to help your artistic vision.
It’s a little messy and time-consuming, but with a large piece of drawing paper or poster board, a pair of scissors, and some glue or tape, you can easily create a helpful art reference board the old-fashioned way.
The demonstration in my video above shows how to create your own digital collage using Photoshop and Microsoft Paint 3D. Other applications will allow you to do the same thing, like the site Canva and other digital painting apps (especially those that use layers).
3D modeling software
It probably seems odd to put “3D” anything on a list of two-dimensional reference resources, but hear me out. Technically, everything we do on our computers is flat and 2D. It’s all “real” but still rather intangible and amorphous. This is true of the models we can create in applications like Zbrush, Blender, Maya, and 3D Studio Max.
These tools give us the illusion of depth to manipulate data in the form of digital clay, and that is extremely helpful when it allows you to create your own “3D” reference. It’s a step up from a photograph because you can virtually rotate the model and view it from any angle, and that is immensely helpful. The drawback, of course, is that there’s quite a learning curve to sculpt anything useful in these applications, so, depending on your needs, it may or may not suit your process.
Here are a few examples from a Maya build I did to create a digital illustration.
Three-dimensional art reference
Let’s get “real”! Anything you can touch and feel, move around, and manipulate with your hands is three-dimensional. I know what you’re probably thinking, “Thank you, Captain Obvious! ?” I’m nothing if not thorough, and I know that can be annoying sometimes. Would you mind bearing with me? ?
Nature, models and found objects
These are all self-explanatory. You know what nature is. Models = the live human or animal variety. Found objects are…the random stuff and gubbins that help us practice drawing.
Sculpture and maquettes
These two are also self-explanatory, though I did have to look up maquettes for a better visual. Maquettes are the small preliminary sketches, or models sculptors create before beginning on the final sculpture.
Sometimes making a representation of your subject helps your drawing–it doesn’t have to look good or be accurate so long as you have the major forms where you need them. You could use Play-Doh. It doesn’t need to be fancy.
How to use your reference photos and studies from Life
Step 1: gather references.
Step 2: Draw all the shapes and forms you can see in said references.
Step 3: Keep doing step 2 and become awesome sauce. #sketchdaily.
Reference in the entertainment art world
All artists benefit from using references. So whether you’re an illustrator, a comic artist, a concept artist drawing characters, or a creative influencer on social media like Twitter, reference photos and materials are your best friend.
If you’ve ever seen behind-the-scenes footage for film and video games, you’ll know that artists who work in entertainment art frequently travel to draw on location for the project’s creative development. How cool is that?!
Where to find the stuff: Websites, social media, tutorials, and videos.
To help you build your image library, I’ve included a list of a few useful sites on the web that have stock photos and other reference photo resources. There’s a lot here for figure drawing, human anatomy, and body parts to build your library. Sadly, there isn’t as much for animal anatomy. Tips in that area seem more confined to books, but there are still plenty of images to be found in this list.
Welcome to my how to draw a banana drawing tutorial!
Hi everyone! ??
Hopefully, you’re all well and ready to learn about bananas and how to draw them. This drawing tutorial is a little different from my others. We’ll still go banana banana for bananas, but I decided to try going heavier on the visuals since they’re such simple forms–until you start peeling them.
First, we’ll learn about what bananas are because it’s important to know something about what you’re drawing. Then, we’ll start getting into the process of how to draw a banana from exploration and study to how to draw a banana step by step, as well as banana drawing with light and shadow and in perspective. There will be quite a few videos in this drawing tutorial to better demonstrate the drawing process.
Most of them are only a few short minutes long and do not have sound–I didn’t think you guys needed to hear my pencil scratching or my kiddos playing in the background ?.
Alright, let’s get started! As usual, there’s more to them than you can tell from a trip to your local market.
Banana banana! Let’s learn about bananas!
Did you know that a banana is, botanically speaking, a berry? Me either! In some countries, bananas used for cooking might be called “plantains,” which distinguishes them from the dessert variety most common here in the West from the Cavendish group.
A banana is a fruit that varies in size, color, and firmness while usually appearing elongated and curved. It has soft flesh that is abundant in starch and covered with a rind that also varies in color–green, yellow, red, purple, or brown–when ripe.
The banana is grown in 135 countries primarily for its fruit and make banana wine and beer, fiber, and for use as ornamental plants. A raw banana without its peel is 75% water, 23% carbohydrates and contains a very small amount of protein with almost no fat. They offer a modest amount of potassium, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber, but they are most often used as a staple starch for many populations around the world.
There are as many ways to cook and eat a banana as there are people, and its plant’s flower, leaves, and trunk are used as well. The flower of a banana plant, called a banana heart, is eaten as a vegetable in South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures, and its leaves are regularly used as Earth-friendly disposable plates and food containers. Foods are also cooked inside banana plant leaves during steaming or grilling.
Exploration and study: Banana drawing focused on shape and form
As with any form we draw, the first step is to explore and study the major shapes and forms. That begins with gathering references and drawing from them and from life.
Here are a few reference photos I took, along with reference boards I created. You’re welcome to use these in your study if you like.
Shape breakouts and natural variations
The banana is a super simple form, making studying it fairly easy–until you start peeling it ?. Most of its variation comes in proportion, color, and surface texture.
From here on out, there will be several videos and a few images demonstrating each stage of how to draw a banana.
How to draw a banana: form construction
How to draw a banana: Form dissection and interior studies
How to draw a banana step-by-step tutorial
In case my video wasn’t clear enough for how to draw a banana step by step, I’ve broken out the steps here with another step by step drawing tutorial of a partially peeled banana.
How to draw a banana Step 1
Lay down your gesture line (or line of action). You’ll build your shapes on top of this.
Banana drawing Step 2
Begin building each shape you need on top of your gesture line. Lines and shapes build form, so we start there.
Banana drawing Step 3
Once you have all the shapes you need blocked in, use lines to connect them, as shown here.
Banana drawing Step 4
Start with an ellipse shape around the middle and more gesture lines to begin constructing the peel forms.
Banana drawing Step 5
The peel forms are plane shapes, so once you have laid down your gesture lines, it’s a matter of building the plane shapes on top. Next, you choose the length, width, and direction of each peel shape.
With all your forms constructed, now is a good time to clean up your sketch and darken it for clarity and finishing.
How to draw a banana peel step-by-step tutorial
Banana drawing in Perspective
For setting scenes, you need Perspective drawing practice. Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate how to set up your boxes in 1 and 2-point perspectives and how to use them to build in your forms. The process is the same; we’re just adding perspective into the mix.
How to draw a banana with Light and Shadow
Next, in this how to draw a banana drawing tutorial, I’ll cover how to approach basic lighting for the banana bunch I drew earlier. Additionally, I’ve started a series on The Fundamentals of Light if you’d like more in-depth information.
How to draw a banana with Light & Shadow, Step 1.
The first step is always a solid drawing–no one wants to waste time polishing a turd ?.
Step 2 – Local tone.
Next, we need to add the local tones. Local tones are your subject’s areas of native lightness or darkness–where each part of the subject lives on the value scale.
Step 3 – Light source.
Now, decide on your light source’s direction and intensity (exposure). I’ve kept it simple here, having the light come from the upper right-hand corner with intensity similar to sunlight. If we were tackling color, this would be the time to decide on the light source’s color and temperature.
Step 4 – First shadow pass.
Using your light direction and form construction as guides, do a rough pass with a darker tone to block in the basic shadows.
Step 5 – First light pass.
Here is the same idea as the previous step, only now you’re blocking in where the light lands on the bananas.
Step 6 – Deepen & refine shadows.
With the basic scheme in place, it’s time to deepen the shadows and refine them through blending. There are nearly always places where the light won’t reach, so we need to include occlusion shadows to demonstrate that.
Step 7 – More light & finish.
Now the lighting for our how to draw a banana light and shadow demo is nearly complete.
All we need to do now is refine the lights through blending, adding highlights, and adding any necessary bounce or reflected light. Then we’re done!
I didn’t go full-tilt high render here, but it’s enough to illustrate the basics of how to light your own banana drawings.
The fruits of your labor: A bit about details and colors
If you’ve spent any time with me in previous how-to-draw articles, like for mushrooms or pumpkins, you know that I prefer to keep color and surface details separate from the drawing stage. Drawing tutorials are about drawing. When drawing tutorials start trying to cover color and surface textures, things can start to get confusing. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all connected, and everything needs to be addressed and explained. I will do that; I promise–just not here.
My goal here is to give you a solid foundation for drawing a banana without a reference. From a solid drawing foundation, you can build whatever other mood or story elements you want.
Fun with fruit: Let’s draw a banana from Imagination!
I’m not gonna lie; I had a hard time with this. Bananas are so simple that I found it difficult to come up with more than a few funky ideas for imaginative drawings. I’m sure you’ll do better than I did ?.
It has been my pleasure to create this how to draw a banana drawing lesson ?. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it helpful.
If you have any questions or feedback for me, please leave them in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you and learn a lesson myself in what you found helpful and what you think could be improved. If any of you have kids, please let me know how well you’re able to go through this with them in the comments! I don’t usually write with kids in mind because of the advanced nature of the drawing process, but I’d love to make my process work for kids, too. Happy drawing, everyone, and take care!
Thank you for visiting this article on my site to learn how to draw a sphere!
I’ll go step-by-step through a few methods for sphere drawing, and most of them focus on drawing spheres not lighting spheres. There’s a distinct difference between drawing forms and adding light and shadow to them.
Drawing solid forms should always come first, then light source, shadows, highlights, etc can come into your picture plane. The goal is to have a solid drawing first, with form space you understand. This makes adding light and shadow so much easier.
I don’t shoot for perfect spheres in all of my examples because there are lots of sphere-like or ovoid forms whose drawing process is nearly identical to spheres. These sphere-like forms are basically variations of a sphere, and it helps to know how to construct those as well.
Let’s dig in! We’ll start by looking at what defines a sphere.
Learning about spheres: The technical stuff and gubbins
Don’t worry, I won’t get too mathematical on you, I promise ?.
Just as every point on a circle is equidistant from its center, so it is with a sphere. The major difference is a sphere is a three-dimensional form, while a circle is a two-dimensional shape. Shapes, edges, and vertices, and depth create forms, which we also call objects.
Exploration and study: Natural and man-made spheres
We need reference photo materials! We all know what a ball, sphere, sphere-like, and ovoid forms look like, so the value of a reference photo here isn’t really for learning how to draw a sphere. Its value is as a source of inspiration. After learning how to draw a sphere, we’ll want to add surface texture and light–which is where the reference photos come in handy.
Shape breakouts and natural variations
Most objects we see in day-to-day life are spherical or spheroid. That means things like apples, oranges, grapes, water droplets, the human skull, etc are three-dimensional forms that are round, or more or less round. They are not perfect spheres, but they’re visually close enough to be referred to as spheres or spherical.
Here’s a reference board for spherical/spheroid and ovoid objects:
How to draw a sphere step-by-step tutorials
There are three methods I’ll cover here that are strictly drawing only–meaning no tonal value, or light and shade, is used to create the spheres. The first two methods demonstrate how to draw freehand spheres, while the third covers sphere drawing in perspective.
The fourth method I’ll cover here goes step-by-step through how to draw a sphere using light and shadow, both digitally and using graphite. I will demonstrate how to add a light source, form shadow, mid-tone (or half tone), a core shadow, a cast shadow, and a highlight to a flat circle shape to model a sphere. I’ll also demonstrate cast shadow placement using the angle of the light rays from the light source.
In this first method, we’ll draw a sphere by using ellipses to add the illusion of depth to a flat circle shape.
Draw a circle of any size you like, and try to make it as round as you can.
Draw horizontal ellipses within your circle. The band of each ellipse should look and feel like it’s wrapping around the surface of the sphere you’re creating.
This feeling of a contour line wrapping around a form is what ultimately gives our sphere drawing a sense of three-dimensional depth on our picture plane (paper).
Next, repeat the same process from step 2 with vertical ellipses wrapping around the sphere from top to bottom.
The way your ellipses wrap around the edges, or outline, of the circle you started with, is very important.
The illusion of depth is created by giving the viewer the feeling the contour lines are wrapping around the form. This creates a sense of depth because it shows plane changes/turns on the form.
2D forms have no depth, so they have no plane changes to indicate a presence in 3D space. Plane changes are the realm of three dimensions.
Once you’re happy with the sense of depth created by your ellipses, begin darkening the contour lines on the front-facing side of your sphere.
Darkening the contours on the front side, while leaving those in the back lighter, will add a greater sense of depth through value. Darker tones appear to come forward, while lighter tones appear to recede into the background.
To make this process as clear as possible, I created a video to demo the sphere drawing process for this method.
Another method for how to draw a sphere more or less does away with using a circle shape as a starting guide. I don’t find this next method as intuitive or helpful as the method above, but it is another option to consider. It begins with ellipses instead of a circle.
How to draw a sphere: Form dissection
I created the next few videos to demonstrate the form dissection part of how to draw a sphere. When we need to draw something broken, split open, cut up, etc., visual dissection drawing skills come in handy. It’s also useful for investigating and drawing internal shapes and forms, like the juicy insides of a sliced orange or the bloody bits of a battle wound or a sliced-off limb.
The most important thing to remember about the dissection of any form is to do it along believable contour lines, even if you’re not going for a clean look.
Sphere drawing in Perspective
If you’ve visited any of my other how-to-draw articles, first of all, Thank you!
Next, I’ve created a video to demonstrate how some of the process for how to draw a sphere in perspective. As you’ll see in the video, the process is simple but requires quite a bit of repetition.
Below are some images from the video to act as another reference for how to draw a sphere in perspective.
How to draw a sphere with Light and shadow
The first thing to know about how to draw a sphere with light and shadow is that there isn’t a lot of drawing involved, per se.
I consider drawing to be the use of line marks and segments, shapes, forms, etc., which is a bit different than adding value/tones through shading. I think of light and shadow more like painting and coloring, which is why I’m not terribly fond of covering them in how to draw articles. I’m always concerned that it will cause confusion, but it is all connected so we gotta get into it at least a little.
Please try to bear in mind, for how to draw a sphere and anything else you draw, that you always want a solid drawing with solid formsfirst. Light and shadow, tones and shade, and color and paint all come after you have solid forms.
Okay, I promise I’m done ranting about it. For now ?.
Know your light source
When you’re comfortable with how to draw a sphere, the next step is to add a light source to create light, shade, shadows, and the other values and tones.
First things first, you must know a few things about your light source.
Without diving into the Fundamentals of Light, the four things you must know (or invent and decide on) about your light source are its angle in relation to your object, its height, its color/temperature, and its intensity.
To help you practice, I recommend keeping it simple so there are fewer variables to juggle. I suggest sticking to black and white for now and using a simple light of average intensity. That leaves the height and angle of your light source to play and experiment with.
Here are a few references to help with visualizing your light source.
Form shadow and cast shadows
When lit, all forms will have at least three shadows: a form shadow, a cast shadow, and an occlusion shadow. Of course, in reality, the tones/values are much more involved than that.
Here are a few diagrams to illustrate most, if not all, of the areas and terminology involved in how to draw a sphere with light and shadow.
Lighting your sphere drawing step-by-step (digital)
Now that we’ve very roughly covered a few lighting basics, let’s dive into some demonstration. From experience, I believe the fundamentals of light are more easily practiced with digital tools–they’re much more forgiving. So, this example has been created in Photoshop.
Start with a medium-size flat circle. It helps to use one with some tone rather than a white circle. Here I’ve used a mid-tone gray circle.
In the case of how to draw a sphere with light and shadow, we need to start with a toned flat circle and build the depth with light and shade. Normally, I would not start lighting without a form.
We have a shape to add depth to, now it’s time to decide on the light source.
I chose to emulate the sun here, keeping the source up high, at about a 45-degree angle to the object, far away, and intense.
With the light source set, let’s make the first rough light pass on the object.
The focus here is on determining where your sphere’s terminus/terminator will be by judging where the plane change happens–where the sphere would begin to turn away from the light.
Now it’s time to get into the shade and shading part.
Light helps us see forms, while shade and shadow give us form definition.
In this step, select a dark grey (about 80-85%, or a 2b pencil to 4b pencil if you’re working traditionally) and begin blocking in the form shadow.
The form shadow will begin at the terminus/terminator and cover all parts of the form facing away from the light.
This is also a good time to start blending in your halftone/mid-tone. The halftone/mid-tone area is where the form has started to turn away from the light but hasn’t turned enough to be in shadow. So, this area is roughly half the value of both the center light and form shadow combined.
It helps to remember these are all first passes. It will be necessary to go back over each area to darken, lighten, blend, and adjust as needed.
With your form shadow roughed in, it’s time to add your cast shadow.
The shape and angle of your cast shadow are determined by the shape of your form and the angle of your light source.
It’s okay you’re a little off at first. I’m pretty sure my example here is slightly off, but it works.
A written explanation gets confusing, so I’ll include a diagram for placing cast shadows after this step-by-step tutorial.
Learning how to draw a sphere with light and shadow is a really good exercise for learning about the other important shadows, like the core and occlusion shadows.
You’ll see in the diagrams from steps four and five that I’ve labeled the core shadow. The terminus/terminator is where the light no longer reaches and the form shadow begins. Right next to that is the core shadow, the darkest part of the form shadow.
Occlusion shadow areas are places where the light cannot reach at all–they are occluded, obstructed. Occlusion shadows can be present on or inside of forms as well as part of cast shadows. Wherever the light does not reach, you should have occlusion level darkness of tone/value.
The last step in how to draw a sphere with light and shadow is to add the reflected or “bounce” light.
Reflected light happens when light from the source bounces off other surfaces and is reflected back onto the object–in this case on its form shadow area.
How to determine cast shadow placement
Next, I’ve included a few images to demonstrate how to locate and place the cast shadow for a sphere. Here we’re looking for where the light rays meet the outer contours of the sphere and intersect the ground plane.
How to draw a sphere with light and shadow using pencils (traditional)
Not everyone is interested in working digitally, so I thought it would be helpful to demonstrate how to draw a sphere with light and shadow traditionally as well.
If you’d like to follow along with this demonstration, you’ll need a few pencils. I recommend a blend of the soft and hard leads: 4h, 2h, and h pencils; as well as an hb pencil and a 2b pencil. 4b and 6b pencils will help in the shadow areas. I like to go all the way up to 8b because I love velvety shadows, but usually, 6b is dark enough. I have articles about graphite pencils and drawing tools if you need more information in those areas.
As a rule, I don’t use a blending stump, cotton swab, or cotton ball for this kind of exercise. They smudge more than they blend, so I avoid them.
How to draw a sphere from Imagination!
Here is where those lovely references from the beginning of this article come in handy! While important, sphere drawing on its own isn’t the most exciting exercise. With some imagination and reference, you can create some fun and awesome things from spheres.
How to draw a Sphere, signing off!
Well, this one was quite a few mouthfuls, wasn’t it?
Thank you so much for reading how to draw a sphere and spending some time with me here. I appreciate you hanging in there and I hope you found this helpful and valuable to your artist journey.
I’m always trying to improve and come up with more useful articles to write, so if you have any feedback or questions for me, please reach out to me in the comments below.