Drawing Tips – Using Negative Space

In this one-off session, I’ll be showing you how to use the concept of negative space to help improve your observational drawing skills.

You can download the reference here: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/IMG_0547-scaled.jpg


  • Start with a rectangle that matches your subject.
  • Then lightly sketch in any of the shapes that surround the subject.
  • Make sure that you focus on the shape itself and not the subject. This is how you draw the negative rather than the positive parts of the drawing.
  • Once you have the negative shapes roughly outlined, fill them in with a light tone.
  • Go back over the shapes and refine the details before shading them in darker.

Shading Tips – Smoothing with the Point of a Pencil

In this simple skills lesson, I’ll be going over the basics of creating a smoother tone in pencil without using smudging techniques or damaging the paper.


  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Kneadable eraser


  • Start by lightly shading in the shadow element of the rectangular panel.
  • Don’t press too hard at any stage as this will crush down the tooth of the paper and create a shiny surface.
  • Keep going over this swatch in light passes.
  • Eventually the tone will get darker and darker.
  • However, you will notice that the specklediness gets more noticeable. This is because you are only shading the raised parts of the paper’s tooth.
  • In order to smooth the swatch out more, you will need to get the fine tip of your pencil to get into the valley’s of the paper’s tooth.
  • You can do this by rotating the pencil in your fingers and changing the position of the pencil relative to the paper.
  • Keep darkening any lighter patches and gradually the tone will get smoother.
  • You can keep doing this for as long as you like (or until you’re happy with the smoothness!)