How to Shade a Drawing

It’s the one we’ve all been waiting for!!
SHADING! Stan Prokopenko here, you’re watching proko. Form First let’s talk about form, because form
is what we are trying to indicate when we shade. In order to effectively shade form, you first
need to understand the form you’re shading. In the structure video I talked about the
basic building blocks of form – spheres, cylinders and boxes. Organic forms found in nature,
like humans, animals and trees could and should be constructed from these simple forms to
capture the character of the subject. The primary form, such as a cylinder for an arm,
should be dominant over any secondary forms, such as the bicep, tricep, deltoid, forearms
muscles. And these secondary forms should be dominant over tertiary forms, like a vein
or wrinkles. You don’t necessarily have to draw them in that sequence, just make sure
that your shading primarily reveals the largest forms, and the smaller forms act as details
– icing on the cake. Planes Planes can be thought of as flat tiles, arranged
in 3d space to create a form. For example this sphere has a front plane, top plane,
side planes, and many more between that together resemble a sphere. They create the illusion
of form. Though really a sphere is rounded, without any flat planes, thinking of it in
this way will help to imagine the sphere as a 3d object and aid in the shading process.
You can think of each section and imagine which direction that plane faces. Then compare
it to the direction of the light source. The plane facing the light is the lightest and
progressively get darker as they turn away. This gradation of tone on the planes gives
a sense of light on the form and helps to show the 3-dimensionality of the sphere. If
you want to round out the edges to indicate a softer form, then soften the edge between
these planes! Though sometimes leaving the edges between the planes hard even on what
looks like a rounded form can help to illustrate the structure more effectively. Consider the
3-dim ensional form rather than just blurring edges
for techniques’ sake. I also want to point out that when you’re
simplifying a form, what you’re doing is decreasing the number of planes which that
form consists of. This 3d model consists of millions of planes, 3d artists call them polygons.
When we lower the polygons down to a few thousand, we get something like this. Much more manageable
for our brains to process. This is the level I’m usually thinking at when I’m observing
the planes on an organic form like a figure. Shade these planes with soft edges and it
gives the illusion of millions of planes. But in my mind, I’m only thinking of a few
major planes for a given area. If you lower the polycount even further, basically
what you have is the robo bean and the mannequin. It’s good to imagine each form as a block
and identify each minor plane as either being part of the top, bottom, front, back or side
planes.. The simple planes of a block are the most important ones. George Bridgman says
“Avoid all elaborate and unnecessary tones which take away from a plane appearing to
be on one of 4 major sides.” Light on Form When an object is lit by a direct light source,
you will get a very predictable pattern of lights and shadows. We can make a form feel
3d by indicating all the parts of the lights and shadows correctly. Let’s do a little example. An elongated
rounded form with some thinner cylindrical ends. This can be a generic muscle, similar
to a bicep. You have the rounded belly of the muscle with tendons on both ends. First determine the angle of the light source.
Let’s say top right.. And imagine the planes that make up this form. All the planes that
face the light will belong to the light family. All the planes that face away from the light
will belong to the shadow family. Core Shadow As a divider of the two families you’ll
usually see a core shadow – a darker strip at the edge of the shadow. This core shadow
shouldn’t be the same all the way the down the form. In the rounded belly part of the
form, the core shadow will be thicker with a softer edge. As the form transitions to
the thinner tendon, the core shadow will also get thinner with a sharper edge. Make sure
you pay attention to what you’re indicating with the core shadow. Avoid drawing racing
stripes down the form. This usually happens when people think 2-dimensionally and don’t
consider the 3 dimensional form they’re indicating. Is it cylindrical, cuboid, or somewhere between
the two? Draw a soft, firm or hard edge accordingly. Reflected Light Fill in the shadow side with a clean dark
value, but lighter than the core shadow. This is called the reflected light. It’s lighter
because of bounce light and reflections from the environment illuminating this area. I
always start with a flat value first, even if I see variations of value caused by plane
changes inside the shadows. The most important part is to separate the shadow family from
the light family. Later in the drawing we can work on the plane
changes within the shadows if they are really important. Though in this example there aren’t
really any plane changes, just a soft gradation to show the rounded form. On a complex form
like a figure, it’s usually a good idea to keep the details within the shadows quieter
than the details in the lights. Most of the story is going to be told in the lit areas.
Naturally the viewer will look into the areas where the light shines, so you want to put
the interesting detail work there, and keep the shadows as the areas of rest. This drawing
by Steve Huston is a really good example of this principle. He keeps the shading inside
the shadows very simple. Here’s another one. He kept the shading on the bottom of
the feet so simple that he completely lost it into the background. Same thing with the
hair. Centerlight and Halftones Next, identify the point of the center light.
This is the point where the plane faces directly to the light. The halftones appear as a gradation
darkest near the core shadow and lightest at the center light. So, I’m thinking about
how these planes get lighter as they wrap around toward the centerlight. Then down here,
the planes start to turn downward, also getting darker. Once we get to the cylinder of the
tendon, the planes turn back to face forward. Highlight The highlight is different from the center
light, but sometimes appearing to fall very close to the center light. Remember, the center
light is the plane that faces the light and the highlight is the plane that reflects the
lights relative to the position of the viewer. A simple way to remember the interaction between
the center light and highlight is – When the shadow is thin the highlight will be very
close to the center light. When the shadow is large, then highlight will be farther from
the centerlight, moving closer to the shadow. So, I’ve established the shape of the highlight
and gave it a sharp edge on the side and softer toward the top and bottom. Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow So far we have a center light, highlight,
halftone, core shadow, and reflected light. There’s two more that we’re missing. These
elements occur when there’s an interaction between two forms. So let’s introduce a
random cylinder into the scene. This cylinder blocks light from hitting the surface of the
muscle right here. That’s called a cast shadow, because it’s cast by the cylinder.
When I draw the cast shadow shape, I use it to describe the shape of the object it is
casting on to, not the object it is casting from. The area deep under the cylinder will get
less bounce light and so it will be darker. That’s an occlusion shadow. Keep the edge
at the cylinder sharp and the edge going away very soft. So, those are all the parts. Review all these
elements and practice spotting them on directly lit objects. There are 2 other things that I look for that
could affect the value of the form. Local Value The local value of the object itself shifts
the value range. These 2 eggs are light exactly the same way, but you can see how the value
range is different. On the white egg the range from darkest core to center light is pretty
wide. On the brown egg the values get compressed and pushed darker. Interestingly, the highlight isn’t affected
as much. It still gets darker, but not as much as the other parts. Because of that the
highlight on the brown egg appears very bright. The value of the highlight depends on the
reflectivity of the material. A glossy surface will have brighter highlights, whereas a highlight
on a matte surface might not be visible at all. The effects you see on these eggs are
really close to what you’d see with skin. Intensity of Light The intensity of the light also makes a big
difference. Intense light will create more contrast between the lights and shadows. Dim
light, low contrast. The intensity of the light can shift within the same object. For
example in this figure drawing, the light source is above the figure, so the light is
intense at the top and drops off toward the bottom as the forms get farther from the light
source. And this is actually something you can cheat. You don’t have to see this on
the model in order to do it. You can use it as a compositional trick to guide the viewer’s
eye to the focal point. In this case I’m guiding the eye to the upper back, which has
the interesting light and dark design pattern of the anatomy. Here’s another drawing by
Steve Huston, which illustrates this very well. Detailed explanation of the process – available
in the premium course… What?! I’m sorry! I gotta leave something
for the paying students! Can’t give everything away for free… It’s cheap anyway, just
go to and you can have all those figure drawing fundamentals extended
lessons. And a bunch of examples and stuff from the lessons. Do it! If you’re posting your own drawings from
these lessons on social networks, use hashtag “proko” or tag me, @proko on facebook
@stanprokopenko on instagram so I can see your drawings. If you like this video pass it on to your
friends and classmates. And click this button here to subscribe to the Proko newsletter
so you don’t miss any new videos. buh bye!


  • Manoj Panja


  • Alexey Saranchev

    Stan is so young here, so handsome.

  • Crossfurr Darius Coatl

    Your material is so useful!

  • Den Chua

    i love you proko!! thank you for the videos!!

  • Kyrie Irving

    where I can buy your pancil

  • Evan Albert

    Thanks Stan!!!

  • Joe HARB

    Many…many thanks for all the wonderful and very useful (and funny) teachings. So much respect to you

  • Sarvin Sadeghpour

    I fricking love u man

  • Sedra Ahmad

    I’ve grown addicted to your videos🙂

  • Christopher Esguerra

    Im so happy i accidentally bumped into your videos. I can only imagine all the random aspiring artists watching your channel and learning. You are a blessing to the world boss!

  • DannyDaDuffyDucking Daffer

    This makes it sound so complexed
    You really wanna learn easy then just find one of those channels that give you the basics and you'll learn how to apply it when you draw with practice

  • Cristina Peña

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS VIDEO! You don't know how long i've been looking for a lesson on actual shading theory. There are so many videos that teach you different techniques or how to shade based on color theory, but there's not a single one that teaches you how to do the actual thing. Personally, i've always had trouble placing shadows accurately, but your example of the polygons made it so much easier for me to understand it. So, thanks again! Keep up the good work!

  • ceoRestAssured

    Shit hurts my brain. I don’t get it

  • costantino giorgi

    nice videos great man

  • Nahid Aganj


  • Talas

    This guy has eyeliner and he did his eyebrows too 🥴

  • Abraham Wondafrash

    Never knew that art is also science!

  • Shadowmod Elite

    Comment #666

  • 789 ___

    at least he grips his pencil right

  • Reaper ofevil

    10:27 your guiding the eye onto dat ass boi

  • Ilay cohen

    I guess i'll have to simplify a whole dragon… rip


    10:16 that looks like some busted anatomy…

  • Silver Shadow13580

    I got ibis…. Art ads from this….. Actually….

    Great timing!!!!

  • Kim sunflower

    really needed this shit in school wtf guys wtf

  • Paulo Pombal

    Proko is great. Amazing content. Helps a lot.

  • Amelia Heart

    I can't believe I didn't even know WHAT A HIGHLIGHT ACTUALLY IS!!

  • Alexis Tejeda

    thanks for shading… I mean.. sharing 😎

  • teipay

    Really helped me a lot! I can kinda understand shading now. The vid explained a lot to a beginner like me 🙂

  • Burhan Gharaibeh

    Very useful. BTW: biceps and triceps do not have a singular

  • 3nertia

    Wish I could afford your course :<

  • Piggy Tsai

    I feel like he seemed to look more sane in his older videos. Newer videos are full of bad jokes… but great content anyway!

  • Tak Cheng Sze

    The most difficult part of shading is dealing with mid tone.

  • V Shuzen

    This channel is so fun and i actually learned a lot 😂

  • Snygg-Johan

    Amazing explanation of light and shadow. Thanks!

  • blackbird163

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!

  • Shara Bethel

    My heart is broke lol. He said cheap… Maybe cheap for someone!! Not me… So sad, love your work!! I was seriously considering looking into this "premium package". Maybe one day I can afford it! Keep up your wonderful talents!! BTW your prices are actually extremely reasonable for any GOOD art education I've found online, especially whole courses. Love it!! Just can't afford it myself haha. Love your work.

  • M zinger

    Polygons are not planes they are points, faces are planes and they are created from polygons

  • whade62000

    3:42 I don't get it. What are the "FOUR(!) major sides"? The Brigmna quote I found is different and continues: "…Avoid ail

    elaborate or unnecessary tones and do not
    use four tones or values where only three are needed."

  • The Lime

    4:42 what is that pencil

  • Marshawn Hughes

    This is more confusing than s Sudoku puzzle with 9 starting numbers

  • Crazy Killer57

    This video helped me understand different details of shadows.

  • Tumpsky and Mrs Small

    Love your last name LOL! It's fun to say.

  • chuki Duni

    i would've learnt more if ur name was stan loona

  • Ashutosh

    booo booo….. you have an excellent sense of humor man.😂

  • Maggie Kiley

    This was so helpful!

  • Fred Eric

    I just dont get it. I mean, i perfectly understand the ratios inbetween lights and shadows, but i just cannot get it in the execution

  • MrBloodlust3996

    My whole art degree and $40k in debt in just 12 minutes

  • 2 4

    do we draw all of those grids if not how do we accurately assess the planes?

  • Seitine

    I always tend to focus on the darks of an area when I look at a picture for some reason over the light areas. For some reason I never really realized it he mentioned it.

  • mj jj

    Your name in tagalog prokopenko means I'm pro I'm a pen

  • onirunedisciples

    Reported for nudity!

  • Mario Rossi

    Спасибо за видео! Коротко и ясно объяснило некоторые ключевые моменты, которых не хватало.

  • jegasi videos

    Proko is underated

  • Alan Yost

    Wow. Quite possibly the best video on shading I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot. Thank you.


    Proko: Do it!!
    Me: Ok ok alright, let me just save up

  • Fine Woodworking

    I thought he said porn

  • sounds like a winner

    This is some pretty shady stuff my friend

  • Saf Ingram

    Excellent video. Thank you

  • Proko

    Get access to the full figure drawing demo and the extended lessons at

  • Devandra

    damn this is 5 years ago , but still helpful AF !!

  • U Unz

    I miss the old instagram logo lol.


    Blues clues backround music?

  • Poohzhun

    Oof, my brain hurts. This, I’ll need to watch several times 🤯

  • Tweety V

    One of the most helpful and easy to understand of light and shadow. Thank you!

  • Vinicius Moraes

    Very informative Video Proko, thanks!!!

  • IMAJUNNO art

    This video really helps me a lot..

  • Tony K

    Very goog videos

  • Nabin Art


  • 39FallingGrace

    You are an amazing teacher 💕

  • Toffazel Hossain


  • kevin mark

    Thanks for the end credit scenes .

  • Alan Walkman

    Beginner: I want to learn how to draw a dog.
    Proko: We first want to learn the basic shapes, how light works, and the different planes as well as secondary/tertiary forms
    Beginner:….Dude, I want to learn how to draw a dog, not learn science.

  • anirudh malkoti

    He kinda looks like Moriarty from sherlock

  • Rogue Nation

    if I was your neighbor I would nickname you RACCOON……….

  • Rogue Nation

    para que voy a pintar el culo de un tipo, carajo, que aburrido

  • أسد الصحراء

    شكراً على الترجمه العربيه⚘❤⚘

  • Könül Aslan

    Very educative video. Thanks a ton 👌👌👌👍👍👍👏👏👏

  • Chim Chim

    what kind of pencil are you using?

  • Jemuel Darang

    salamat pre.

  • Jemuel Darang

    greetings from Philippines

  • Basque Wasp

    Amazing, thanks!

  • Antonion Martinez

    Remember to step back from your drawing once in a while to see how its coming along, AND close your eyes 1/4 way and you will SEE more of the contrast of light and shadow.

  • KeJan Lawsin

    Wow, genuinely made me understand shading specifically, thank u Proko!

  • 黄云飞


  • jersey Mcgee

    Proko looks less tired in this video

  • Hani Az

    U are my number 1 👍👍👍👍

  • jishnu s

    Thank you so much for your teaching

  • blah s

    So you want to ignore the shadows you see and shadow to show form?

  • Kumar bhoi

    Very good Idea Brother

  • baranches

    Всё по полкам за 10 минут. Замечательно! Спасибо.

  • ExoticCrafting

    When you can't even draw a circle…

  • Luna Smith Art

    Beautiful video ❤️ Wonderful tips 😊 Have a nice day and stay connected 🙂

  • Lumpy Stilskin

    This is shady

  • Jace Prasil

    This is a great video, thank you for sharing it. I am so incredibly curious what brand and type of pencil you're using that gives you such thick yet fine coverage when you're giving gradient tone in this video?

  • JM ArtPortrait Paintings

    Very good tutorial sir, new friend here, and comment about my drawing, thank you so much.

  • chrompoised Art

    Damn stan ur eyebrows on fleek

  • Lorne Malvo

    The biggest problem with shading is not these things actually. The problem is the inconsistency, i start to shade a core shadow and while going to the lighter surface some parts becomes darker than the others. They must be go lighter all together at the same tone consistency. Anyone has this problem?

  • Shaaz Nazari

    Why all drawings show ass?

  • Moamal Ali

    يرجا اضافة الترجمة

  • pascquallo

    What kind of pencil is this?


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