Pencil Sketching 101 with Cupixel Studio
Dive into the secrets of shading, rendering, and creating 3D magic with your pencils

Today we’re diving deep into the fundamental techniques that will empower you to sketch and render three-dimensional objects with the magic of pencils. So, let’s jump right in and unlock the secrets of shading and illuminating your sketches!

At the heart of any great pencil sketch lies the mastery of light and shadow. Understanding how a light source interacts with the object you’re drawing is the key to bringing your sketches to life. Picture this: as light dances upon surfaces, darker areas recede, creating the illusion of depth. It’s like telling a visual story through shadows, revealing how elements are positioned in space relative to each other.

Sketching 101: Basic Pencil Techniques

Materials Needed:

  • Pencils
  • Paper

Start with a basic circle- use this to explore shading techniques. Imagine a light source in the top left corner, casting shadows on your circle. The shadows intensify as the light diminishes, mimicking the natural interplay of light in our environment. Using your 4H pencil, begin shading the circle taking into account both the hardness of the pencil and the pressure applied. The goal is to establish lighter tones, laying down less graphite. But don’t worry if it looks a bit “crunchy” at first—you’ll refine it later.

Transitioning to a 6B pencil, (this is one of the softest), add depth to the shadows, creating a more realistic representation. Shadows aren’t uniform; they vary based on the proximity to the light source. Your circle should begin to take on a lifelike quality as you observe and add in reflections front the table and the other objects in the space. 

Cookie on white paper

Any object you are rendering in three-dimensional looks 3D because of a light source, that light source casts shadows and makes things darker and lighter depending on where it is positioned to other things. It casts shadows from one to the next so that you know how things are positioned in space.

Now, you will use your smudge stick to blend: use deliberate strokes to blend the graphite, soften the edges to give your sketch a smoother appearance. Start with the darkest area, furthest from the reflections and see the lighter shades emerge closer to reflective surfaces. The trick is to work with the kneaded eraser, the smudge stick and the pencils to begin to flesh it out a little but to make it look more lifelike.

Cookie on white paper

To fine tune your sketch, you need to use your eraser. The kneaded eraser becomes a precision tool, gently lifting graphite to create highlights. The process is like sculpting with light, refining our sketch until it becomes dimensional.

No need to rush, use your time to work through the shadows, textures and intricate details.

Cookie on white paper

Art at any age with the perfect app to get you started!

Using Smart Trace, anyone regardless of age or experience can create a work of art.

4 fun Halloween art activities for kids

Kids will have a blast with these spooktastic Halloween-themed arts and crafts projects.

10 love-inspired Valentine’s Day art activities

Let your Valentine know how much you care with personalized art, made with love, just for them.

How to select a personal photo for a portrait

Before you even start to draw your outline, finding the right photo to base it on is key to painting an amazing portrait.

5 fun Father’s Day art projects

From DIY cards and pet portraits to custom picture frames, personalize your Father’s Day gift by making your dad art that he will...

Elegant Envelope Décor: A festive touch from the outside in!

Here is a simple tutorial that will help you transform a plain square envelope into a Holiday masterpiece.

6 easy and fun art activities for kids

These fun art activities allow kids to flex their creative muscles and can be done with materials that you likely already have at...

12 fun holiday art projects for all ages

Get ready for the holidays with these fun art activities that include painting, drawing, and cookie decorating!

How to paint a portrait

Learn step-by-step how to paint a portrait, from finding the correct undertones to adding highlights and contours.

How to project a photo using cupixel

Learn how to project a full photo, not just an outline, onto your drawing surface using the layers feature.

How does cupixel work?

Learn more about the augmented reality and artificial intelligence technologies that make cupixel work.

10 fun Mother’s Day art projects

From DIY cards and pet portraits to custom picture frames, personalize your gift this year by making your mom art that she will...

How to use cupixel without a stand

If you don’t have a cupixel device stand at home, you can still create amazing art — you just need to have a little creativity!

Holiday cookie decorating

Impress everyone you know by decorating cookies with these cute barnyard animals

Why Cupixel is every busy mom’s go-to

A game changer for busy moms, who want to blend fun, education and even some “me time” seamlessly

7 fun Thanksgiving art activities

Get ready for Thanksgiving with these fun-filled experiences that are perfect for adults and kids alike.

4 DIY decorating projects for Halloween

Get into the Halloween spirit with these fun art projects and decorating ideas. Learn how to paint a witch, a haunted house, and...

How to decorate cookies like a pro

Impress everyone you know by decorating cookies with these cute barnyard animals

Color theory for beginners

Learn how to mix colors and control value, understand the difference between warm and cool colors, and gain the confidence to paint...