Home assignment:

Academic Graphite Drawing



Photo Reference

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Week 4:

Define all lights and shadows (body and cast shadows). Practice intentional looking and remember to look with a hugging gaze to notice the tonal values of surround areas as well. Step back, squint, and take photos.

Week 3:

Continue shading in layers. Begin to express the different colors of each object by means of tonal values.

Week 2:

Finish the outline of your drawing. Be sure everything is proportionally accurate and in the correct position before moving onto shading.

Before shading, find and lightly outline where the pure white highlights will go. Reserve the white paper in those areas and shade everything else to at least a light grey. Deepen your tones, layer by layer.

Week 1: 

You may prefer to draw on a sturdy surface like a drawing board, especially if you're drawing on an easel or resting your pad on the edge of the table. You can keep your drawing in your drawing pad and use clips to attach your drawing pad to the board. I don't recommend using tape because tape may rip drawing paper.

Click here to watch an instructional video on how to sharpen your pencils the same way I demoed in class.

How to create an interesting still life

Look for objects that have a variety of shapes, colors, widths, textures, and heights. Find a moveable light source. 

  1. Go around your house and collect 10 items (for example: a clay pot, metallic teapot, a tan tablecloth, a matte vase, a striped cup, a cut crystal wine glass, hardy fruit like apples, etc). 
  2. Place all of your objects in front of you
  3. Start building your still life by placing your cloth on a horizontal surface like a table.
  4. Add three objects next to one another. Overlap your objects, change the orientation of your objects, switch your objects out, or add more objects, mind the distribution of tonal values (lights and darks), and pay attention to the variety of their heights.
  5. When placing your light source (such as a desk lamp), try different directions - straight above, from the left side, the right side, etc.


  • It's more visually interesting when the tops of your objects do not line up with one other.
  • You can also add more visual interest by propping a corner of the cloth up so it drapes down; you can do so by attaching the corner to a box, clipboard, or by placing your still life next to a wall and pinning the cloth into the wall.

Artist Examples

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Group Photos

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