Graphite Pencil Shading - Creating a Realistic Cat | LaVonne | Skillshare

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Graphite Pencil Shading - Creating a Realistic Cat

teacher avatar LaVonne, Artist, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Realistic Shading Introduction


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Eye 1


    • 4.

      Creating Short Fur


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Long Fur


    • 7.

      Long Fur Details


    • 8.

      Nose Detail


    • 9.

      Eye 2


    • 10.

      More Short Fur


    • 11.

      Finishing - Whiskers


    • 12.



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About This Class

In this class I will teach you how to shade with graphite pencils. You will learn to shade a cat eye and create short and long fur.

Using graphite pencils can be fun and will teach you the foundation of how to create value, depth and dimension no matter what medium you are using. Learning to shade can help add realism to your drawings.

The reference photo I am using is available at Pixabay:

I drew the outline of the cat prior to filming this class since I am going to focus on teaching you how to shade. I used the grid method to draw the cat. I have a video on my website if you want to learn more.

Meet Your Teacher

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Artist, Illustrator


Hello, I'm LaVonne. I have been drawing since I was very young. I love creating things -  drawing, painting, sculpting - as long as I am creating something, I feel content.

I have worked as a Graphic Designer as well as an Art Director at an advertising agency. I look forward to sharing my knowledge on Skillshare!

Some of my favorite mediums to work with are ink pen, colored pencils, pastel pencils and Procreate app on my iPad.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Realistic Shading Introduction : in this class, I would teach you how to shade a realistic cat using graphite pencils. Learning to shade is a valuable tool. As an artist, it adds depth and dimension and keep your projects from looking flat. If you aren't already a premium member, be sure to sign up today. So grab your pencils and let's start shading. 2. Materials : for this class, he will need paper. I will be using Strathmore Bristol. Smooth paper. You will also need a set of pencils. I will be using Rembrandt Lira pencils. Be sure that your set has a wide range of hardness. Is the Rembrandt Lira said ranges from three age to six b. You will also need an eraser. I use a kneaded eraser, some blending stumps and finally, a white jelly roll pan for the whiskers. 3. Eye 1: all right. The first thing we're going to do is draw the outline of the cat. You conduce this freehand or you could use the grid method. If you would like to learn more about the grid method, you could go to my website art by live on dot com. And now we're going to use the cat photo reference. I turned it into a black and white photo so that you could see the gray scale, and I am going to use that as my reference photo, and we're going to start on the I. I'm going to use a five B pencil. It has a softer lead, and so it is a bit darker than the harder leaded pencils. And the thing that you want to pay attention to is the pressure that you're using. You don't want to start out with the very heavy pressure. At first you can build up the darker colors, little by little. If you go too dark too soon, it's hard to erase and get a lighter color, so it's easier if it's lighter. You could always make a darker, but if it's darker, it's a lot harder to make it lighter. so you just begin by shading, and then you use the stumps to blend. So add some of the pencil and then blend with the stump, blending the color while not the color. Blending the pencil in helps keep it from looking flat, and it gives it the great Asian that you want to create the shading. So use this dump to blend the pencil that you just put down, and then you can add more of the graphite to the page. Looking at your reference photo, you could see where the darker shades are, so this process, throughout this full entire lesson, we'll be adding graphite with the pencil, shading with the stump and then erasing to remove the graphite. And that's what creates the various shades. And like I said, this is very important because if you only use the graphite pencil and used the same amount of pressure you're drawing is very, very flat, and it doesn't, um, lend itself to the depth and dimension. So the key is to look at your reference photo and try to match the different variations of the great colors. So at first, like I said, I start out with the softer leads, which are the five b in the six B, and you don't want to go too dark too soon. So you're just building up layers of graphite. If you press too hard too soon, it has a tendency to make the paper shiny because it takes away the tooth of that paper. But if you use a lighter pressure and add layer by layer, it doesn't create that shiny effect and doesn't, um, affect the tooth of the paper. So then you can use your eraser. Um, I used the, um what are they? Concerti? That gummy racer? Because I can mold it into very small shapes or a large shape. And then you can use that to take away the graphite for the lighter areas. Blend with stone, always paying attention to the reference photo so that you can match the gray scale colors so again, laying down pencil blending and then erasing if need be. So for the darker area around the cat's eye again, I'm not gonna go really hard pressure right up front. I'm going to do this little by little, so adding, um, just a light layer of grass. I If there are any light areas like you just saw in the cat. I leave those white because it will be very hard to lift that pencil off of the paper with the eraser. So you condone. Leave those areas white, and, like I said, you can always darken them later. But if you dark and then too soon, it's very hard to get them lighter. So then, at another light layer and you can see that it starts to get darker and you can already see it's creating depth and dimension. Just the various shades of gray. Use the stump to blend. This evens out the graphite. You can use that graphite that's on the stump to go into the areas that you need to be a little darker, so there's no need to lay more graphite down with the pencil. You can use that stump for adding the the shades of gray that you need continuing with that darker area a little bit of the time, light pressure and you can see how it starts to build up, and it will get darker with every layer that you put on it. But it won't get shiny, and it won't ruin the tooth of the paper, just layer by layer and then blend until the you get the darkness that you desire blend that layer in. Now you can see that I used the stump to go over the places that I left white because in the reference drawing it, it's not pure white, and then you use the eraser to take out more of the pencil to make it a little lighter. 4. Creating Short Fur: for the short hair. We're going to use the six B pencil. We'll look at our reference photo and we'll see that there are some dark, short hairs, so we'll go ahead and use a medium pressure. Not too hard, but not too light, either, Cause this is this is pretty dark hair, so we use a medium pressure and small strokes to start creating that short hair. And you can keep layering the pencil on until it gets to the darkness that you want to achieve and just very lightly using that pencil. Making those short hair strokes. Keep looking at your reference photos so you can see the gray scale and what needs to be dark and what needs to stay light. - Just keep adding the hairs by using a very light two medium stroke. Just very, very short strokes in the direction of the hair. That is extremely important to pay attention to reference photo to get the direction of the hair. That's going to make a very, very big difference in the realism. If you have hair going in wrong directions or you know every which way, that's that's not going to look very good. So look at your reference photo and always be sure that you're creating those strokes in the direction of the hair. Any lighter areas. Be sure to keep those light for now. Like I said, we could always go back and dark and something. But once you make something dark, it's very hard to lighten. So used this dump now and blend the hairs in, and you can see that you could still see the detail of the hairs, but it's creating more of a grey background for them. Used the graphite to create gray areas. Now we're going to use the four B pencil, which is a little harder. So it's going to be darker, and we're going to put in some of those even darker hairs again, paying attention to the direction of the hair. Always looking at your reference photo, - you can already see that it's creating a lot of depth and dimension just by the various shades of the greys in the light areas and then the darker areas. It's starting to come to life. You can darken in any of the I that you know is going to need to be a lot darker. You can use the four B pencil to start adding darker layer to that. Just don't press too hard, so you don't get shiny effect on the paper still using light to medium pressure. But since this pencil is hard, it's going to be darker. Keep adding the small, short hairs light to medium pressure, paying attention to the direction of the hair. I can't stress that enough. It's extremely important, slowly building up the layer so that we slowly get darker in the areas that need to be darker. And then we can smudge those short hairs so that we get a gray background. But it will retain the detail of the pencil strewn Use the graphite. Use it to create that bit. Uh, sorry, that gray background so that it's not stark white because the nose and the rest of the short hair is going to have a gray background. We're going to use the eraser and pull out some of that graphite to make some lighter areas again. This is to add depth and dimension so that it's not a flat project or, you know, a flat drawing. There's going to be so many various shades of darker graphite and lighter graphite. That's what helps create realism. Now we're going to use our to be pencil, and we'll continue adding the short hairs into this area. And again, this is a pretty hard pencil, so it's gonna be dark so you can use a light to medium pressure. But you'll be able to get those dark hair going to move on to the other area by the nose. That is pretty dark. So short strokes. We'll start adding those in. Keep looking at your reference drawing, making sure you have the flow of the hair direction crap. We'll go ahead and darken in more of this area. We'll just keep creating those tiny, short, dark hair pretty like pressure here and then the places that are really dark. You can have a bit more pressure to you. Pencil. - Start adding some of the dark areas in the details where the cat's whiskers grow out. Fun. Its nose area. Well, cheeks, I guess not knows. And that's how you create short hair 5. Nose: Now we're going to use the six B pencil and we're going to begin working on the nose. So with light pressure, we're going to outline the nose, get some of the shadowing in on the left side and on the right side. And then we're going to use this dump in smudged that you can smudge that up into the hair part where the hair, the short hair is going to go on the nose and using the pencil again, we're going to put down some more graphite again, not using super heavy pressure. We're going to build up little by little until it's the darkness that we want to achieve. Just keep adding layers until it gets darker and some of the dark hairs that were coming out from the nose area. - Just keep adding the pencil little by little until it's the shade of gray that you want to achieve. We could always go back in later and make it darker. Add some of the small hair details, use your smudge stump and smudge that out. You can use the graphite that's on the stump to start shading in the other areas where the hair is going to be, - and then you can use your gummy racer to start taking out some of the graphite and making, making it lighter in some areas, and that's it for the nose now. 6. Long Fur: Now we're going to begin working on the long for in the middle and lower right portion of the reference photo. Using very light strokes, fill in some of the graphite. Be sure to leave the white areas for the really, really light for and the white whiskers so you'll see. I am shading around those areas that I want to leave Super white. This is actually called using or creating negative space because what you're doing is you're using the pencil or paint or whatever it is you're using the darker color to create that light color pencils, unlike, um, pains like acrylic or oil or wash. You can put a darker color down, and then you can paint white on top of that in the white will show up. Pencils aren't like that. Colored pencils aren't like that, either. If you want a very very light area, you have to leave it light, but you can add the darker shades around it to create that illusion of it being there. You're not actually drawing it there, um, coloring it there. You're just leaving it white and painting or drawing around it. So you just continue shading with your pencil. Very light strokes, looking at your reference photo following the shape in the direction of the For now , use the stump to smudge in the graphite in the areas that you just laid down, just smudge those around. - You can use the graphite that's on the stump to start shading the gray in the other portions of where the long fur's going to be and up in the cheeks of kitty. And then we will add another layer of the pencil to the darker areas that we know are going to be pretty dark. So we'll keep adding layers of pencil until we get to the shade that matches on the reference photo. Then you can add some of the small detail hairs around the cat's chin. This is going to create that perspective that you're looking for, that that cat spaces in the forefront and that for is a little more blurry in the background. The long for, I should say, is a little more blurry in the background again. You're gonna be creating negative space because there's white hair on his chin. But instead of drawing the white hair in, we're going to use the pencil to draw dark lines to create the white hair. Now this area is pretty dark, but we still don't want to go in too heavy too fast. We want to do this in layers, so we're going to start adding into the darker areas. You can have a little more pressure, then the other areas, but not too much pressure. You don't want that paper to get shiny. You're just adding in the basic shapes of where the cat fur is going to be. And we're going to be detail ing this later in another section. But for now we're just laying out the shapes, and then we smudge again. Now we're going to use the kneaded eraser and start taking out some of the areas where we know we're going to be a little bit lighter gray and use the pencil to start filling in the areas that we know are going to be darker and using the stump, blend them out, use the eraser and pull some of that graphite up. And in the next section we're going to detail this area 7. Long Fur Details: Now we're going to put some more detail on the long for, so we are going to add some of the shorter for along the chin. Actually, it's not shorter, it's it's darker there. But I'm going to use some short strokes at first and then fill in the darker on the longer areas. We're not going to go to dark just yet, so I'm actually creating white for by making the dark lines around where I want the white for to be. Now we're adding another layer to the darker areas that we know are going to be pretty dark and continue to make the white for by adding, um, short strokes of dark lines and that will create the white for in between. And we're just going to keep filling in the darker areas that we know we're going to be pretty dark. But we're going to do this little by little, using short strokes so that we can create some of the light colored hair again. This is called creating negative space. You're using a darker color, too, um, go around lighter colors to leave those white and not fill it in, and we're going to smudge it gives it that blurry effect so that it looks like it's at a distance more than the details on the face. And we're going to use the needed the razor to pull out some of the color that we just put down using this smudge tool. Just blending that pencil in and using the graphite that's on the stump to go ahead and fill in some of the areas on the cheeks. And if you find that there's too much, then you can go ahead and wipe that off with a cloth. They'll still be some on your stump, but sometimes it just gets too much too dark, and you don't want all of that on there. Just go ahead and wipe that off and again, using the needed the razor to pull out some of the graphite to make it a little lighter and blending that again. Now, I did not follow my own advice, and I did not pay close attention when I first did it to the direction of the hair. So now I'm going back and correcting that now that I tilted my drawing in a different way, I can see that the direction that I had originally um drawn wasn't quite the same as what's in the reference photo, but that's okay, since we didn't go too dark too soon, we'll be able to lift a lot of that out of there and will be able to correct that. So take my advice, follow the direction of the hair in the reference photo as you're doing it, and you won't have to go back and redo it. But as you can see, it's it's not. It's not hard to correct. I just had some of those longhairs going straight when they should have been kind of swooping, So I'll just go back now and swoop him again. Little by little, that's the advantage of not laying down super dark lines right away. Always build it up in layers that we can always adjust as you go if you need to and blend that out, used the kneaded eraser and pull some of the lighter areas out darkened in the areas that you know, we're going to be pretty dark, - smudge and use the kneaded eraser again to pull some of that graphite out. And that is how you create the details in the long for 8. Nose Detail: Now we're gonna add a little more detail into the nose, so we're going to use the stump and blend a little bit. And then we're going to use the five B pencil and start adding some of the darker areas around the nose. Get those fine, dark hairs in there, start adding some texture into the nose. Just keep adding on to the layers. You don't want to press too hard. You don't want to get that that shiny effect if you keep a light pressure, but keep adding layers on top of the layers, it makes a, uh, dark appearance without getting shiny. Just keep adding some of the darker areas into the nose, looking at your reference photo smudge as you need to just like tiny dots. Just add some texture and then smudge those around the way. You needed eraser to pull some of that color out. So what? He adds even more texture. So more of the fine dark hairs around the nose and some of the fine hairs on the nose bridge. I think that's what you would call it on a cat on the bridge of the nose and smudge and pick some up with the eraser. And there is more detail on the note 9. Eye 2: All right now we're going to work on the second I so we'll use our five b pencil and will start adding in the darker areas a little bit at a time like we did the last time. - We'll leave the white areas that we want to leave white so that we don't half to erase, um, or try to take too much of that dark color out so we'll do a little bit of time and we'll just continue with light pressure to build up those darker areas. We'll leave the area where it's going to be pretty light, and then we'll blend it out. You can use the graphite that is still already on the stone. We'll use that for our base color for the I. And then we can add texture by then taking away some of the graphite with the kneaded eraser using the pencil. The's stump and the eraser helps to build dimension and texture so that you're drawing isn't flat, so it helps create the realism that you're looking for in this dry. Let's use our four B pencil, which is a little darker, and start adding in some of those dark areas, not pressing so hard so that it gets shiny but pressing hard enough so that it starts to get dark. Because we know from our reference photo, this is almost the well, it is black. But we want to build that up slowly and gradually, carefully going around the areas that we want to leave lighter and smudged that out. Use that graphite to pull, pull down into the areas that are gonna be darker. You can use it for the areas they're gonna have short for, and again pull some of that out and make that side a little darker and that's it for the eyes. 10. More Short Fur: All right. Now we're going to work on the short hair on the other side of the face, and we will use the stump to put some graphite down. And then we will use a four B pencil and we'll start adding the short hairs and some of the dark areas around the eyes. We use a pretty hard pressure to get the dark. Ah, short for that is coming out from the area and then kind of lighter. Wispy strokes then will darken in the area around the I with the four b pencil. Then just use short, quick strokes to start creating some of that short hair around the eye area. You can use various pressure to create different shades of gray. The four B pencil is a much harder lead, and so it is a lot darker, so you don't need to press really hard. But you condone for the dark hair, the small, dark hairs you can. You can add some pressure in there and then just continue the short, quick strokes to create that short hair. You want to alternate where the hairs are going, Um, otherwise, you just keep putting them on top of each other. It ends up being a lump, but that's what I'm doing now. Now we'll use our six B because we're going to big this area dark. As you can see in the reference photo, it is a lot darker, so we use a six B and gradually, um, layer that up, and then we will smudge this out and use the kneaded eraser to pull some of the graphite out to create some highlights and then continue that process again. It's just little by little layer by layer. Continue to build up and add the hairs in so that it creates the for effect and just continue like this until you have all over the short for drawn in there. 11. Finishing - Whiskers: all right, I finished the cat using the techniques that I have showed you for creating the short for and also creating the long for. And now we're going to finish it by adding the whiskers. So we will use the white jelly roll pan, and we're going to start adding the white whiskers using the pan and slow, small strokes draw in the whiskers, and you may have to go over them several times to get the really, really white appearance. Sometimes the ink tends to start forming on the tips so you can wipe that off, and then you can continue drawing the whiskers in going over it several times until you have the whiteness that you want to achieve. You can also start creating the white ah, hairs that air that air coming from the cats, chan. And just continue using your white jelly roll pan and going over the area several times until you get the whisker wiping off as you need to. I'm going to try using a different white penne au nivel and see how that one know that one didn't quite work out. I'm going to bet to the jelly roll and just keep creating those whiskers. That's a long one. There. Look at your reference photos so you can see the correct placement of the whiskers. You don't have to be exact, but you can follow along your reference photo to get the placement. And there you have it. We have are finished. Cat. I hope you enjoyed this class. Thank you for watching. I hope you learned some new techniques. Stay tuned for your assignment. 12. Assignment : your assignment should you choose to accept it is to create a cat using the techniques that I taught you during this class. You can use the reference photo that I provided in the description. Or you can use any reference photo of your choice. Don't forget to post your project in the project section of this class. I look forward to seeing it and, as always, have fun.