DIY: (Part 2) How to Shade and Highlight a Human Facial Profile


Progress animation of Part 2 in my David drawing tutorial. Look for the step-by-step video below!

You can do WAY more than “barely draw a stick figure.”

I really believe that any person can surprise themselves with the creative ability that exists inside them, and we need glimpses of that in ourselves. You know how just about every mom makes their kids take piano lessons as a kid? Like many kids, I often dreaded it… because it took time and practice, and I wasn’t what you’d call a prodigy. But after most lessons I realized I did better than I originally thought I would, and that made me feel good. If you try this project, and you work along with my video, I promise you’ll come out with a much better drawing than you expected. Drawing is SO good for the brain, and nobody would do it if it wasn’t so rewarding. Give yourself a chance! 

This is my second tutorial video, and part 2 of the David Profile project. Part 1 was focused on measurement, proportions, and capturing a likeness with a line drawing. This second video will help you to complete your drawing, and is focused on shading, depth, texture, and contrast. So grab your line drawing and supplies (scroll down for a list), push play on this video, and let’s get to work!

Here is the video:

Materials you’ll need:

  1. Part 1‘s “David” line drawing
  2. 6B graphite pencil (this graphite is softer and allows you to make dark marks) — you can find it at any art/craft store.
  3. Sharpener
  4. Paper towel for smudging and smoothing marks
  5. Pink Pearl eraser
  6. Photo reference of Michelangelo’s David from

Here are some process photos from a group of adults I taught who had little previous drawing experience:


Want to do this in color, or teach it to kids?


The “puzzle piece” technique I talk about in the video makes it possible to do all kinds of unique things with this portrait. I did a “Pop Art” lesson with a classroom of 5th graders, explaining to them how Andy Warhol used screen printing to simplify and fill different shadows, mid-tones, and highlights with bright colors.


Marylin Monroe prints designed by Andy Warhol (Photo source:

After we did our line drawings (part 1), students chose three different colored pencils — one for the darkest shadows, one for the highlights, and one for the mid-tones. They didn’t worry about using a dark color to represent the dark shadows, for example, but there are many different directions one could take. Students began looking for and outlining shapes of dark shadows, then highlights, filling them in with the colors they chose. Then they filled the empty mid-tone spaces in with their last color. The kids did an excellent job to say the least, and the project served as drawing practice, a great brain workout, and a double-whammy art history lesson all in one!


If you want to teach this to a child, I’d recommend you try following along with the video together, or you could do it alone beforehand, then give them a copy of the photo and draw along with them on the board or at a desk together. Just so you know, I spread this full lesson over two different class days. Teaching the line drawing section of the lesson took 60 minutes. For quality’s sake, I would give yours students at least 90 minutes to complete the coloring segment.

I would absolutely love to hear about your experience with this tutorial. Please feel free to comment below with any questions or thoughts you may have.

Good luck!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s