How to Draw Shading and Lighting in Perspective

Written by richard may
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How to Draw Shading and Lighting in Perspective
Improve your drawing skills and add extra realism to your pictures. (heart - drawing image by Bartlomiej Nowak from

To add realism to your drawings, you can add lighting and shadows. Both of these add an extra sense of realism to any drawing if done correctly. One of the keys to keeping light and shade realistic is to keep them in perspective with the subject of your drawing. As long as you follow the rules of perspective and understanding how light falls on an object, you will soon master drawing light and shade in perspective.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • White drawing paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Eraser

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  1. 1

    Select the vanishing point for your drawing, this is the single point where all lines not on the horizontal or vertical plane meet. A picture can have more than one vanishing point, but -- for simplicity's sake -- a drawing of a cube will have just one.

  2. 2

    Draw a square face on a sheet of paper using a pencil and ruler. Join one corner of the square to the vanishing point with the ruler and draw a faint line alongside it. Do this for the other three corners, with all the lines meeting at the vanishing point.

  3. 3

    Choose a point along the faint lines and draw another square, joining the lines, then draw along the faint lines to join the two squares. You now have a cube drawn in single point perspective. Rub out all the lines to the vanishing point that are not part of the cube.

  4. 4

    Choose a point to the right and above the cube and make a point with your pencil. Line up the ruler so that it passes through the point and the leftmost corner of the box and draw a line. Draw a line exactly parallel to the first that passes through the next corner of the cube to the right. Move to the next corner to the right and draw another parallel line. This is the direction of your light source.

  5. 5

    Pick a point to the left of the box lower than the light source point. Use the ruler to line up the bottom left corner of the cube with the point and draw a line to it. Do this for the front bottom corner of the cube and the rear bottom corner.

  6. 6

    Make a pencil dot at the point where the leftmost line of light source crosses the middle shadow line. Make a dot where the middle light source line crosses the highest shadow line. Make a final dot where the right-most light source line crosses the lowest shadow line.

  7. 7

    Rub out the light source lines and join the three dots without crossing any shadow lines. Rub out the shadow direction line, resulting in the outline of your shadow in perspective.

  8. 8

    Shade in the shadow so that it is nearly black, shade the side of the cube on the left so that it is not as dark as the shadow. The right hand-side of the cube should be shaded only slightly, with the top of the cube being left untouched.

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