Apples, they come in all different colors and even a variety of shapes. But in general they are all spherical and spheres are shaded a certain way to create the illusion of roundness.

What better way to learn how to shade a sphere than by creating a lovely picture of an apple. I have the line art, a reference, and a color list to help you as well as a speed drawing video and a longer version for you to follow along to. So grab your pencils, I’ll provide the reference photo, and paint with me.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.

The sphere

apple-1What better way to learn how to shade a sphere and gain a nice piece of botanical art than to paint an apple. I feel like this is the perfect way to jump into shading and coloring a sphere while having a real picture upon completion. I will be showing you how to block in the shadows with dark sepia before building up the layers of color needed to make a circle look like a round apple. The lineart, link to the reference, and color list will be accompanied by a speed drawing video. This lesson is available as a longer video for you to follow along with me, I have it listed for free on Patreon.

Botanical Art

apple-2This term and other similar terms have a wide variety of meanings. To me, botanical art is the white of the paper showing as the background, clean lines and detailed drawings highlighting one subject or multiples of the same subject. Sometimes the subject is very close and detailed, other times, further away with more of the plant features shown. Botanical art is as varied as the artists who practice it. As I have been learning botanical art, I have been finding that there are a lot of people practicing it on Instagram, but not that many people showing it on Youtube. And so this is my way of sharing what I have been learning so other people can follow along with me.

Basics are not basic

apple-3I felt I had to start somewhere and learning to shade a sphere can be boring. But learning to create an apple is fun, and touches on the same principles. Head on over to my patreon page to get the reference photo and line art available for free, all the equipment and colors are listed below as well as on patreon. The darkest parts of the apple will first be lightly blocked in with dark sepia. It is really important to keep a very light hand with all the layers, not just the initial layers. Pressing too hard will damage the paper and limit the number of layers and depth of color in the final painting. It is always easier to add more color than to remove it.

apple-3I then go over that with red violet but increasing the coverage. The next color is dark red, I go over all the layers and add another ring, slowly closing in on the highlight. I continue this layering process until I reach the highlight. I block that in with cream to help maintain the brightness of the highlight. It will pick up some color when I blend out with solvent but the cream will act as a resist and prevent too much color from building up over the highlight.

An apple a day

apple-4This is where the layering fun comes in. After blending out all the layers, I go over them again paying careful attention to the edges of each color, blending the two colors together to create a smooth gradient of color as the apple curves into the light. Blend and layer again, and again. Do you have an apple yet? Please share it with me, I can be tagged on instagram, or head on over to my facebook page and comment there. Next week we will be working on the leaves. They will be challenging.

Equipment (amazon affiliate links):

Colors used (Polychromos):

  • May Green 170
  • Chrome Oxide Green 278
  • Earth Green 172
  • Rose Carmine 124
  • Light Purple Pink 128
  • Cream 102
  • Pale Geranium Lake 121
  • Deep Red 223
  • Dark Red 225
  • Red Violet 194
  • Dark Sepia 175
  • Nougat 178
  • Walnut Brown 177
  • Warm Grey III 272

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. I’m currently working on the leaves for next week’s lesson. Let me know in the comments how your apple went.


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