Easy drawing key points of light and shadow

Inside Art with Dima

Easy Drawing Class

Key points of Light and Shadow

Light plays a central role on how we all see the world and in drawing the use of light brings out the 3rd dimension.

Light source

A light source has a point of origin from which it travels in all directions in straight lines. Anything in its path will be illuminated on the facing surfaces.


Shadows are cast where the light does not shine directly on a surface – where there is no light shadows are black – transitions between curved surfaces create shadow lines and half tones that grade from light to dark.

Reflected Light

Light reflects off surfaces in all directions. The reverse side of an object will be illuminated by reflections caused by surrounding surfaces. White and glossy surfaces reflect most light, dark surfaces reflect the least light, matt black can hardly reflect any.

Key Points

  • Highlights – focussed points of light in direct line with the source

  • Light – diffused bright light shining from a given direction

  • Shadows – darkness where light does not shine

  • Half tones – occur on the transitions between surfaces

  • Reflected light – light that bounces back off surrounding surfaces into shadows

The drawing of a circle can be transformed to look like solid sphere by simply applying shading based on these key points.

Examples below are

White ball on dark cloth – the shadow is deep with little reflection.

Grey ball on white surface – the shadow is less intense and reflection brighter.