How to draw cast shadow on sphere step by step

How to Draw a Sphere | Easy Shadow

There are plenty of complex explanations of
“How to shade a sphere” on the Internet.

And they are overwhelming!

This following 6 steps shadow drawing tutorial is made easy:
I made it simple for Industrial design beginners to start gaining confidence in sketching with “How to draw a sphere with easy shadow”.

How to draw cast shadow on sphere step by step
Today, we simplify a realistic sphere in a 30 seconds sketch!

I believe in learning to take baby steps
before jumping into “expert drawing techniques”
in Industrial Design Sketching.

This step-by-step drawing tutorial for beginners
shows you how to draw a 3D sphere super fast and easy
– without any complicated theory about light and shadow.

Get a ballpoint pen and let’s start drawing
with this SIMPLIFIED method for cast shadows on the sphere!


1. Draw a circle

Draw a circle using the Ghost drawing.
(The ghost drawing allows you to draw the circle with fluidity.
You simulate the circle movement before drawing it.)
To complete your circle, do not hesitate to draw it with 3 or 4 “loops”.
Draw a circle

2. Draw an ellipse for the cast shadow

Draw an ellipse below the circle, it represents cast-shadow.
Make sure the ellipse overlap the circle
Do not draw the ellipse literally below the circle
Mistake drawing a cast shadow

3. Draw Hatching shadow

Draw oblique hatching inside the ellipse
Avoid drawing vertical and horizontal hatching
Do not draw hatching inside the circle.
Avoid horizontal and vertical hatching for cast shadow

4. Draw Ellipses for 3D volume

Draw 1 horizontal ellipse (on the widest part of the circle)
Draw 1 vertical ellipse (on the highest part of the circle)
In just few seconds, the 3D volume of the sphere appears!
Create a 3D volume drawing ellipses on your sphere

OPTIONAL TIP:
For clarity, draw two little crosses.
One in front, and one in the back of the sphere.
(The cross in front is a bit bigger and bolder than the one behind.
It makes the front cross closer to us.)

Show the front and the back to draw a 3D sphere with clarity

TRY THIS: The “3D link axis”

Remember the 2 crosses (one in front, one in the back)
Connect them to create that “Link axis”
It enhances, even more, the 3d sphere effect!

Sphere drawing with cast shadow - Try showing the 3d sphere axis

5. Draw the Core shadow

Add the core shadow (peanut shape) on the sphere .
Make sure you leave a bit of blank below the shadow.
Do not fusion the core shadow with the cast shadow.
Sphere drawing with cast shadow - Common sketching mistake

NOTE: Be aware of the Bounce light

  • The bounce light creates the white/blank space below the core shadow.
  • Imagine the light rebound on the white table, and reflect below the sphere.
Sphere drawing with cast shadow - Bounce light

TRY THIS: “Unfinished Shadow Tracing”

Don’t finish your core shadow where the light is the highest.
Draw the hatching like if the line tracing was there.
The brain will magically reconstitute the form. : )
Sphere drawing with cast shadow - Unfinished tracing
A visual trick to lighten your sphere drawing

6. Light source from top left

TIP: To help you better visualize,
spot the contact point below the sphere touching the ground.

Common mistake on lighting a sphere
Common mistake on shadow of the sphere
  • The (peanut) Core shadow is also on the right side of the sphere
Core shadow on sphere

How to go from Beginner doodles to Professional drawings

When you start practicing, your doodles are clumsy.
That’s normal, it is because you are acquiring the knowledge.

That’s a good thing!

Know your brain limits, and you will learn happily.
The brain is not made to multi-task.
Focusing on learning both the theory + make nice drawings is tough.

So first, absorb the techniques making doodles.
Then when you feel ready, practice drawing with fluidity and with lighter lines. your sketch will become much more Lively!

Phase 1: When you practice, it is ok to doodle clumsy. Focus on understanding the technique.
Draw with fluidity and confidence a sphere
Phase 2: Then only you can focus practicing with drawing neat sketches.

WHAT’S NEXT: Advanced Preview

I like to popularize a technique first.
Then make you ready to jump on more advanced tutorials learning the actual proper technique.

I will create a step-by-step tutorial on How to draw cast shadow on the sphere. For now, I wanna give you a preview of it as a “visualization insight”.

  • When you draw the core shadow, imagine these 4 arrows projecting on the ground.
  • You got here an ellipse on the right of the sphere.
Advanced technique to draw light and shadow on sphere

And if you want to start with this technique now, you can follow the steps with How to draw cast shadow on boxes (parallel source light).


The 2 source light

There are mainly 2 types of light source:

The Parallel source light:
It’s often represented by the sun, as it is so far away.
The Diverging source light:
It comes from a closer source, such as a lamp post for example.
2 types of source light to draw shadow projection
Lighting/shadow on elevate sphere

Practice Practice Practice!

Like how my friend and Concept artist Edward Eyth says:
“PRACTICE, PRACTICE, AND PRACTICE”.

Enjoy learning the simple way and fun matters to be able to practice so much.
Learn to love the process and you will grow your design sketching skills with more complex and cool drawings. You will raise your confidence and soon reach a professional level.

It’s like learning to ride a bike with the 2 extra little wheels first.
So you can soon ride freely without them and learn how to ride on more challenging roads!

drawing many spheres with ballpoint pen

Remember, if you want to step up like crazy,
information is nothing without practice!

drawing many spheres with ballpoint pen close view

Practice drawing plenty of spheres filling your paper recto verso.

love sketching and practice

Take a pen, get started drawing now and let me know how it goes :).


To carry on with spheres, here is a funny game drawing plenty of circles and make them become a crowd of Minions!

how to draw minions
Learning how to draw having fun!

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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

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