Drawing & Shading Techniques for Kids

Written by rochelle leggett
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Drawing & Shading Techniques for Kids
Pencils are a good medium for children. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Children often enjoy expressing themselves creatively, and one of the most convenient ways to do this is through drawing. Some children may enjoy art so much that they would like to know how to make their work better. To teach them drawing and shading techniques, use pencils initially, as children are familiar with holding pencils and they are not very messy.

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A large part of learning how to draw is learning how to look. Put a simple object, such as a ball or an egg, on a flat surface and turn off the lights. Give the child a flashlight and ask him or her to shine the light on the object. Move the light around and see how it changes the shadows on the object and the table that it is sitting on. Let the child observe as long as he or she desires. Try the same thing with other, more complex objects, such as favourite toys, or shine the light around on your face to let the child watch how the shadows change. This is a good exercise for learning how shadows work and move so that they can be duplicated in a drawing.


The best way to learn to draw and shade is to start with some simple shapes. Blocks and balls are both very simplistic. Encourage the child to draw the shape as accurately as he can, not worrying about details, such as designs, patterns or markings. Children may lose interest in plain shapes quickly, so move on to shapes that are more complex or interesting. For instance, ask the child to try to draw a favourite book.

Advanced Shading

Ask the child to rub his or her pencil evenly across a sheet of paper, making dark marks and light marks. A child may find this exercise fun. It is possible to make a wide range of shades with the same pencil. Ask the child to think about which shades are darkest and which are lightest. Ask the child to observe an object, draw an outline, then lightly outline sections that are darkest to lightest on the drawing to imitate the object, like a paint-by-number, before shading it. A child may enjoy hatching as a shading method. This involves making multiple parallel pencil strokes to create lines rather than smooth shading. More strokes make a darker shadow.

Complex Objects

Take a look at a "how to draw" book. Such books are usually not very helpful for learning how to draw, but they can show children how any object can be broken down into simple shapes to make it easier to draw. Ask the child to try breaking down something complex, such as a dog or a cat, into simple circles, cylinders and cones. Use the shapes to try to replicate the general shape of the object, then add details and shading. For fun, use the same technique to make imaginary creatures.

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