Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11865

Light doesn't just lighten objects; it creates darkness as well, in the form of shadows. Just like the shadow that follows you, they tell where the light is coming from. Learn the shading technique!


Visual Arts

Fine Arts
learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!


We live in a world of light and shadows. Look around you and point to the place in the room with the brightest light. Then, point to the spot in the room with the darkest shadow. If you were to draw this room, how would you show the difference between light and shadow?

One of the life lessons we can take away from art is that there is no light without shadow.

In fact, shading is one of the main ways that artists show light. Take a look at the four sketches below and observe how the artist used shading to show a light source. Answer these questions for each:

  • Where is the light source in relation to the object?
  • Is it above, below, to the left or right?
  • How do you know anything about the light source, which is not even shown?

Next, you will read a tutorial about shading techniques. Write down the six shading techniques the author presents, and a brief description about how the effect is achieved. Read the tutorial, Shading Techniques - How to Shade with a Pencil, by Matt Fussell, courtesy of The Virtual Instructor.

Share your findings with your parent or teacher, then reflect on the following questions and discuss:

  • How do each of those shading techniques differ?
  • How are they similar?
  • How does reading this tutorial help you understand the shading techniques used in the sketches you looked at earlier in this section?

You have a little more understanding now about the techniques artists use to show light and shadow.

In the Got It? section, take a look at some of the sketches from great artists and see if you can identify the techniques they used.

Elephango's Philosophy

We help prepare learners for a future that cannot yet be defined. They must be ready for change, willing to learn and able to think critically. Elephango is designed to create lifelong learners who are ready for that rapidly changing future.