This exercise is to help you learn values. Values are the lightness and darkness of a color. In a black and white image it has no color so it has value only.

Scroll through exercise before starting.

Supplies needed: 

4H pencil
HB pencil
8B Pencil

If you do not have the above pencils then use whatever pencil you have to make degrees of shading darkness. Press lighter on the first step, harder on the second step and hardest on the third step.

This is our reference photo. You want to try your best to match the values you see in it.:

This is your Line Art. Print it out on a piece of 8.5: x 11" paper:
NOTE: Because of photo distortion, the drawings below look rough and sketchier than the original drawings. So don't try to copy my examples exactly, they are only a guide. Instead, try your best to get the shading to be as smooth and uniform as possible. And compare your drawing to the values in the reference photo above.

Here is what step 1 should look like using only the 4H pencil:

Here is what step 2 should look like using only the HB Pencil:

Here is what the 3rd and final step should look like using the 8B pencil—Finished!


  1. Could you explain what is happening at each stage ?
    For example, why, in step one, does the 4H pencil shade what it does etc. ?
    And so on for each step....

  2. Thank you for your question. Pencil 4H is the hardest and therefore the lightest pencil. That is, it will produce very thin light lines, and very light subtle shading. So you would want to start your drawing with a 4H. On the other hand, an 8B Pencil produces a very dark and heavy line, and when shading produces a very dark shaded area. Then the HB Pencil is in between the 4H and the 8B and creates medium lines and shading. So, when drawing, you may start by using a 4H pencil, then a HB pencil and end with a 8B pencil. So the drawing goes from lightest effects to darker effects. Does that make sense?


    1. Yes, that makes sense.
      My confusion might be caused by imprecisions in the reproduction of the consecutive drawings.

      To me, the sphere in the first drawing looks darker than it appears in the second as does the lightest side of the cube,

      And the darkest side of the cube in drawing 2 looks darker than it does in drawing 3 etc.

  3. Yes, that is correct. Don't take my drawings and their reproduction too literally. They are merely suggestive.