Project 2 Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone

Aim of the Exercise

To draw two pale simple-shaped objects using tone to depict three-dimensionality

The Process

I chose to draw a pair of mushrooms: pale, simple, rather pleasing shapes. It was a very sunny (albeit cold) day so I decided to draw outside using the natural light which produced some very strong cast shadows. I quickly blocked in the cast shadows before the sun moved around too much. The light areas next to the cast shadows were very easy to spot as it was so bright, however the curve of the mushrooms meant that the light areas were not defined by a neat line! I found the mid tones quite difficult, especially as by the time I got to them, clouds were drifting in and there would be periods when the tones blended into one. However I persevered and as the sun came out I was able to block in the dark mid tones. The light mid tones were the greatest challenge as it was hard at times to distinguish a true light tones against the pale pinky white flesh of the mushrooms. That presumably was one of the points of the exercise. As I was drawing outside the backdrop to my set up was rather boring vegetation. The whole area was quite dark so I decided to  make it a plain backdrop rather than any detail. I am not sure I got the overall shape right, but it does give a lovely contrast to the highlights on the top surfaces of the mushrooms.


I chose to draw with charcoal on an A2 sheet of lightweight cartridge paper. It had enough tooth to grip the charcoal rather well and was far nicer to draw on than the sugar paper from my last project. I particularly like the way the charcoal used on its side added a realistic texture to the mushrooms.


I enjoyed this exercise: the idea of producing a large drawing of the humble mushroom appealed to me very much. I have been practising proportions in my sketchbook and found that it wasn’t as difficult to get a realistic image as it has been in the previous exercises. I definitely feel that I am getting ‘my eye’ in again after not drawing for a while. Evaluating the tones in shifting sunshine was a challenge, especially the mid tones. They kept shifting as the light changed. The underside of the mushroom on the right was a challenge as it had very pale areas that were in definite shadow. I like the simple composition and feel that the mushrooms have both three-dimensional form and texture. However I may not have got the relative positions of the two quite right. There was no cast shadow from the mushroom on the left on the visible surface of the one on the right. However the direction of the light depicted in the drawing (from very high up on the left) suggests that there should have been. Either my relative positioning is out a bit and the mushroom on the right should have been a little further forward than my drawing suggests or this has arisen due to the light changing.

What I Learnt

Drawing in natural light presents its own sets of problems Mid tones can be hard to distinguish especially in variable light conditions

Project 2 Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone

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