Hyper Real Skull Study in Pencil – Developing the Shadows

In this session we will be darkening and adding variations within the shadows of the skull.

  • Its best to darken the tones with gradual lighter passes rather than going really dark straight away. This will help you to stay in control of the tones and remove the need to erase too much (which can make it trickier to get an even tone).
  • As a right-hander I like to work left to right so that I don’t smudge as much (if you’re left-handed, you can work from right to left).
  • Look for where the shadows are darker and where they are lighter.
  • As a general rule – the shadows will be darker nearer the shadow edge (where it meets the light) and any deep creases where light can’t bounce around.
  • The lighter parts of the shadows are usually filled by light that is reflected into them (reflected lights).
  • Once the general tones are added, you can smooth them out using a fine mechanical pencil or sharpened wooden pencil.
  • Finish by reinforcing the darkest accents within the shadows.

The materials you will need for this course are:

  • Paper
  • Range of pencils (H, HB, B, 2B) – ideally a few mechanical pencils as well as regular ones.
  • Kneadable eraser

You can download the source image for the series here:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *