Create a 3D Sphere with Colored Pencils

Dec 13, 2021
Coloring a sphere

A good way to practice blending with colored pencils is to draw a sphere and add highlights and shadows. In this blog, you’ll learn how to draw and color a three-dimensional sphere.

Step 1

Draw a circle with a light pencil. You can freehand, use a compass or trace a round object. Before you start you want to think about where your light source will come from because you want to know where your highlights, mid tones and shadows will need to be. 

If you look at the example picture at the top you’ll see that in this drawing the light source comes from the top left. When you’re drawing a round object, you shouldn’t shade using straight lines. We won’t use the cross-hatching technique but only the circulation technique, using circular movements.

For this sphere, blue is the main color that is used. Instead of using a light blue, blue and dark blue, we’ll use one blue colored pencil for the main color, a dark brown, greys and white to create the shadows and highlights. I like to use Caran d’ache luminance colored pencils because of how easily they blend and mix. 

The colors used in the picture: 

middle cobalt blue
buff titanium
french grey 10%
french grey 30%
sepia 50%

Step 2

Color the whole sphere with the main color blue. Because the light is coming from the top left, you will leave the top left part white.

Step 3

The 2nd layer, we use the french grey 10% to start creating the mid tone. 

The 3rd layer, we use the french grey 30% and only color the right part of the sphere to start creating the core shadow. The core shadow is the shadow on the object itself. Shade the layers very lightly and gradually build up the colors.

The 4th layer we use the sepia 50% to darken the core shadow.

Step 4

Next, we go over all of those layers with the main color blue.

Step 5

To blend and mix the colors we will repeat the steps but now from dark to light. We start with a layer of the sepia 50% and only go over the core shadow, after that a layer with the french grey 30% and french grey 10%.

Next, we will blend the highlighted area with buff titanium and white.

Step 6

Once you have the gradient the way you like you can blend the colors with the main color blue again. For this layer, I use medium pressure. Make sure you have a nice gradient before you start shading the last layers because it won’t be easy to correct.

Step 7

Now we will blend the area where the light source is coming from with the buff titanium and white. If the highlight isn’t light enough you can use the pencil eraser to lighten the highlighted area and then blend it with a white pencil for a smooth finish. 

We will also darken the core shadow a bit using the sepia 50% and french grey 30% and blend with the blue again.

Step 8

Now the cast shadow. The cast shadow is the result of the light being blocked by the sphere.

We start with the main color blue and then use the colors from dark to light. So first the sepia 50%, then the greys and finally the white to create a smoother finish. Using these colors creates a more natural look, it’s better not to use black for the cast shadow.  

Step 9

In the last step, we’ll be creating reflected light. This is a reflection of light from the surface of whatever your object is sitting on. I usually use the eraser to lighten it up and then gently shade over it with the blue so I will not have an edge from the eraser line.

And, that’s it!

Remember how we started with a flat circle (an outline), look at what it turned out to be. A 3D sphere! Just by adding highlights, mid tones, and shadows. 

Coloring with colored pencils is not just about choosing the right colors. Believe it or not, value is more important than color if you want to create realistic artwork. Understanding value is the foundation to creating realistic color. So it’s important that you understand value. The different values are: highlights, mid tones and shadows.

I often look at random things around me. It helps to observe actual things you see in your daily life. Look at how light reflects on an object, see how the light falls and where the shadows are. By doing this you are practicing “seeing” value. 

If you want to learn more about value and color have a look at the step by step video lessons in the membership covering everything from basics to portraits…

Read more details about the Artistic Journey membership here and join us today so you can start practicing.

Hope to see you there!



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