Task 2: Graphite Universal Forms

This task helps to understand a tonal scale which is needed for tonal drawing.

The resource will help you to get a tonal scale set up before taking on some practice shading.

Click here: Tonal Scale and Universal forms



Adding tonal shading is adding illusion to a 3D form and refers to the lightness or darkness of something. This could be a shade or how dark or light a colour appears. We create tones when shining light onto an object. The parts of the object on which the light is strongest are called highlights and the darker areas are called shadows. When first learning to draw, it is important to first see the contours of your form accurately (covered in Task 1). Then, you learn to see the highlights and the shadows.


The pencil shading exercise demonstrated in our Facebook group is ‘graduated tone’. This is a drawing technique which artists use to create a strong sense of space and form. To be able to draw in either graphite pencil or colour pencils, it is a crucial skill to develop.

  1. Use a range of grade pencils (2H to 6B for example) for your shading. Lighter, harder graded pencils (H, 2H etc.) will help blend the highlights, whilst the softer pencils will add real depth to your darkest tones.
  2. Start by shading the area you wish to be dark (the shadows) and slowly build up the tone. As you work towards the light, gradually ease the pressure, then switch to a harder grade pencil, until you can no longer see the mark each graphite pencil is making-it will blend the tones without the need to get smudging!
  3. You then patiently repeat this process several times, building up a depth to the shading, adjusting any irregular areas and trying to keep the tonal changes as smooth as possible until you achieve the variation and intensity of tone that you desire. Ideally, all forms you are shading will showcase the full tonal scale to give it the illusion of being 3D.

Join me for a live demonstration soon on our facebook group 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART



3 thoughts on “Task 2: Graphite Universal Forms

  1. Brittaney Tossie Reply

    I have a lovely 50’s Parker Mechanical pencil but can’t get leads for it anymore 0.7 leads just fall out – can’t find anything bigger – any advice?

  2. Leslie Cantella Reply

    The Parker Single Arrow fully loaded with Staedtler 0.5 hollow points just can’t be beat IMO either for rapier wit or blunt force trauma sarcasm. Write on!

  3. Albert Bracaloni Reply

    Pentel also produced the PS1042 with .2mm lead. I will be getting one of these shortly, and i have its counterpart in 0.5mm. I have yet to .4mm lead pencils, but i have written with a few sent for inspection. its like using a .3mm without the breakage. I know as i get older, fine motor skills become distant. 🙂

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