Home learning focus

In this lesson hear from a young artist about how she approaches drawing, learn about different materials and techniques for drawing, and create your own still life drawing.

This lesson includes:

  • four videos
  • one activity to try at home


Drawing is a key part of developing any art, craft or design work.

It is an important method of researching, investigating, developing and communicating ideas.

Watch this clip to hear about how young artist Kate Powell approaches drawing.

Materials for Drawing: Pencils, Charcoal, and Graphite


Pencils come in a range of hardness. It is useful to know about the different varieties before starting a drawing.

  • The H range is hard and light and useful for design or technical drawings
  • The B range is soft and dark and more suitable for shading and tonal drawings

Watch this clip to learn more about how to use different pencils in your drawings.

Charcoal and Graphite

Charcoal is a fast and responsive drawing media. It gives both soft and strong lines depending on how it is used. It smudges easily so use a fixative to keep it in place.

It is best used for quick sketching and creating expressive marks. It creates very different marks ranging from soft and subtle shading to bold, dark lines depending on how much pressure you use.

Graphite sticks are harder than charcoal and can be used for more detail. They are like pencils, but without the wooden casing. They are useful for shading and blending.

Watch this clip to learn about different charcoal and graphite techniques.


Rather than just being a backdrop to your work, papers and surfaces can be used creatively.

Also remember you don't have to just use white paper - newspaper, brown paper, dark paper, tissue paper, tracing paper, wallpaper, textured papers or any other interesting surfaces can be used to enhance a drawing.

Watch the video below and learn how to use surfaces creatively in your drawing.

Finding a subject

Subjects for a drawing are potentially limitless. Common subjects include portraits, buildings and natural landscapes.

Still life drawing is a great way to learn new techniques with objects you can find around your house. Producing drawings by observing real objects or from drawing on location is called working from a primary source.

An advantage of using primary source rather than secondary source is that the artist can explore the scene, object or person from many different viewpoints and in different conditions. The source material can also be revisited if an idea requires further investigation.

Drawing Techniques - Tone and Shading

There are many techniques you can use to improve your drawings.

Some important ones include:

  • Shading
  • Cross-hatching (placing lines very close together - the closer the lines the darker the area)
  • Varying the length and shape of the line

The figure in The Black Bow (George Seurat, c.1882) appears three dimensional. The lightest tones suggest highlights on the woman's shoulder and arm and at the front of her hat. The tones gradually get darker further round the figure. The darkest tones are at the back. These suggest shadows at the base of her dress, in the small of her back and under the brim of her hat. These changing tones create the illusion of light hitting a real form.

Watch the video below to learn how to use these techniques to give your drawing depth and dimension.

The Black Bow, c.1882, by George Seurat. Heritage Image Partnership Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo


Find a group of objects and arrange them on a surface. Choose a place in your household with a good source of light.

Using a selection of pencils, charcoal and graphite, apply the techniques you have learnt in today's lesson to complete a still life drawing. Pay particular attention to using shade and tone to give your drawing depth and dimension.

You will need: pencils, charcoal, or graphite, paper

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

Bitesize Daily lessons
BBC Teach - Art & Design
KS3 Art & Design