Drawing Realistic Portrait Series [3 of 8] – How To Draw A Sphere

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OK, so in the last lesson we learned about the 1st Pillar of realistic portrait drawing: Realistic Shading. And we also learned about the 5 Elements of Shading and the Gradual Blending technique.

(Note, this is lesson #3, so if you haven’t seen lesson #1 and lesson #2, go do it now)

In this video, you’ll learn about the most important shape in portrait drawing. We’ll also take the concepts that we learned yesterday, and apply it to drawing this shape.

This is very important foundational skills we are building, so please pay close attention and draw along.

(To download this video. Right click and select “Save As”)

Now it’s your turn to try drawing the sphere for yourself. Just refer back to this video if you need any help.

Here’s a picture of the sphere for reference:

Click to enlarge

Knowing how to draw a sphere realistically will take you very far toward being able to draw a portrait so make sure you practice it. It will make everything we are going to do in the future a lot easier.

In tomorrow’s lesson, we’ll dive into some actual portrait drawing! I’ll reveal to you the 2nd Pillar of Portrait Drawing and show you a super cool technique for drawing any portrait photographs.

If you struggle with keeping your portrait in proportion and your drawing accurate, then you definitely don’t want to miss the next lesson. So be sure to look for tomorrow’s email.

Till’s next time, please “LIKE” this post and leave a comment below.

P.S. Once you are done drawing your sphere, send them to [email protected] and I will post them on the site to share it with others. That way we can all comment and help each other out. πŸ™‚

We learn best when we share ideas with others. Don’t be shy. Send them in and I promise your drawing skills will improve just because of it.


I just received this drawing of the sphere from one of our subscribers – Timothy from Vietnam. He did a great job with this drawing and I wanted to share it with you.

By Timothy (click to enlarge)

Great job on the drawing, Tim. And thanks for sharing.

If you’d like me to post your drawing on the site, please just send it to my email (listed above).

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Let us know what you think! Leave a comment below...


  • SJ Choi

    Reply Reply July 28, 2015

    Thank you so much for your great teaching! As a beginner I can’t wait for next lesson!

    • You’re very welcome. I’m glad the lessons are helping. I designed it so that beginners could have a good introduction to portrait drawing.

  • Patricia

    Reply Reply September 4, 2014

    This lessons is very helpful and am truly enjoying it. Can’t wait until tomorrow.

  • abc

    Reply Reply August 29, 2014

    how to draw lips like aamir khan

  • Kathy Scarborough

    Reply Reply August 18, 2014

    Really enjoying the drawing classes I am learning alot. I have been drawing most of my life but have never been able to do portraits. Actually did good on the eye which has encouraged me and my ability to do this. Thanks for opening this possibily for me. Looking forward to each class.

  • Loghman

    Reply Reply August 13, 2014

    Hi. I’ve watched 3 lessons and I should say they are great. It improved my drawing a lot. thank you Ethan πŸ™‚

  • Toni

    Reply Reply July 23, 2014

    Great lesson. Now I know where I am making mistakes. Thank you. I love it.

  • Cristina

    Reply Reply March 7, 2014

    Im so excited for tomorrows lesson!! Thank you very much ethan!! Very informative!!

  • jytte

    Reply Reply February 11, 2014

    I used to blend with my fingers but I realize that the paper blender is much more precise. Your lessons are great :o)

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply February 9, 2014

    I really aprreciate what you are doing, It’s very helpful

  • mimond

    Reply Reply February 9, 2014

    hmmmm hi im asking if the charcoal is helpful to create a perfect blending… ? thnx πŸ™‚

  • Soli Variava

    Reply Reply January 1, 2014

    I am so thrilled I found your site Ethan. My wife said “wow” when she saw my “reference” sketch.
    All credit goes to you.

  • tanpohhwa

    Reply Reply December 5, 2013

    Dear Ethan,
    I really appreciate what you are doing – that is showing us glimpses, in the hope that we will buy your DVDs. Sometimes I think you push too hard and that is when i think twice.
    Sometimes you seem desperate to me. I like what you do, believe me. But I have to clear my thoughts before I am pressured to buy. I hope you understand what I mean. i mean you no harm , in fact I thank you for your lessons.

  • Davy

    Reply Reply December 3, 2013

    I have just been medically retired from work and would love to try my hand at something artistic. Your site has really fired my imagination and I will look forward to the next chapter. Thank you for making this possible for us wannabie out there.

  • Bee

    Reply Reply October 24, 2013


  • shezmin

    Reply Reply September 5, 2013

    i have never been to any art class but i still draw where some people say i have the skills so didnt wana stop trying. i ve learned to draw portraits watching videos on youtube and yes up to a certain extend i kind of draw something close to the exact thing and i spend too much time erasing and fixing it. your are the first tutor that i’ve followed tutorials from… and like you mentioned in one of your videos though we like to learn we have to spend alot of money on art classes…. your a very kind heart person to understand what people like us really want and help them in the best way you can… I really appreciate what u do…

    god bless, and keep up what you doing. πŸ˜€

  • Sara Macdonald

    Reply Reply August 8, 2013

    I’ve been following your email tutorials for photo realistic portraits, thank you, you have helped me a lot. I’ve just returned to the sphere shading and I wonder whether you could illustrate shading from light source from the top and the bottom, please.

  • lucia

    Reply Reply July 1, 2013

    I really appreciate your lessons when i finished my sphere i will send you.

  • Little-Apple

    Reply Reply May 30, 2013

    Thank you very much Ethan!
    Your lessons are reaaaaally helpful for me!
    I hope one day I will draw like you! Or like her: Ileana Hunter Art / Facebook
    But it’s going to be a bit difficult –‘
    I can’t wait for tomorrow πŸ˜‰ !

  • Gloria

    Reply Reply May 28, 2013

    Thank you Ethan … I agree with all of the positive feedback others are giving you. Your lessons are excellent, clear and easy to understand and implement. Your teaching technique works!!

  • Natal

    Reply Reply May 21, 2013

    Oh, yes! I see the first result!!!!!!!!

  • ShimOoOo

    Reply Reply May 17, 2013

    Thank You so much for your amazing tutorials, it’s already no.3 lesson and i feel that i improved so much. I’m planning to stick with your great lessons till i get satisfied. I hope to improve my drawing really bad.

    thanks again, and please keep sharing your useful techniques lessons, hope you the best.

  • geraldine crowley

    Reply Reply May 9, 2013

    Very helpful drawing video.
    One of the most helpful I have come across.
    Thank you so much.

  • Helen

    Reply Reply April 18, 2013

    Thank you this has been VERY helpful!

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply March 14, 2013


  • Linda Thomsen

    Reply Reply March 14, 2013

    Hej πŸ™‚

    Jeg er mΓ₯ske den fΓΈrste dansker, som ser dine film, men det gΓΈr ingen forskel, for de er rigtig gode og jeg lΓ¦r en masse. Jeg er imponeret πŸ™‚

    I am perhaps the first Dane who watch your videos, but that makes no difference, because they are really good and I lern a lot. I’m impressed πŸ™‚

  • Pieter v/d Linden

    Reply Reply February 19, 2013

    The lesson of the eye are graet and instructive

  • Vinay Dwivedi

    Reply Reply February 11, 2013

    This sphere drawing tut was just awesome. After the 2nd day’s video I kind of tried but messed it.. bt after this one i am going to get it πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ thanx a lot

  • Marie

    Reply Reply January 20, 2013

    I’m enjoying your tutorials very much I was in an accident a few years ago and my right hand has nerve damage, I’m very passionate about drawing and wish I could do better I’ve overcome a lot of difficulties and I will master this it is just slow for me. Your a wonderful artist and I do enjoy these. making the hard lines dissapear is the hardest for me, I think I just put to much pressure on the pencil.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply January 20, 2013

      Hi Marie,
      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but I’m glad that you are still passionate about your art. You sound like you have a great attitude about things. I’m really glad to have you here!

  • jemi

    Reply Reply January 18, 2013

    it hepls a lot………….thanks ethan.your the best

  • Jeremy

    Reply Reply January 13, 2013

    very helpful

  • Jelena

    Reply Reply January 13, 2013

    how often do you think we should change a blending stump?

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply January 14, 2013

      You can pretty much use a blending stump until it fall apart OR there is so much graphite built up on the end that it no longer blends and is basically just a pencil πŸ™‚

  • briana

    Reply Reply January 12, 2013

    Great video its too bad I suck

  • Antonino

    Reply Reply January 10, 2013

    Congratulations for your video course. I finally found the design course I was looking for for years. I am Italian, I understand a little English wrote, I also help with subtitles in English and translated into Italian, but seeing your manuality says more than a thousand words. In the past I have read many books, not just design, but also other technical matters, where the first pages promised to teach me many things, but after reading the book until the end, I was back to the starting point. Your method of teaching instead explains the most important things to avoid all those pesky theories then are useless.
    Thank you for making available this online course.

  • willie

    Reply Reply January 3, 2013

    What lead grade are you using.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply January 4, 2013

      I am using 2B lead but HB will also do.

  • Nazneen

    Reply Reply December 27, 2012

    thanks a lot for the tutorials …. as im very fond of drawing , ur drawings tutorials are helping a lot .. πŸ™‚
    i must say, you are the best tutor πŸ™‚ thanks a lot once again

  • Jelena Alves

    Reply Reply November 25, 2012

    Thanks for yours videos. Because I am wery busy ( have got full time and part time jobs), my drowing skills forvards wery slow. I am really enjoining them, thanks a lot.

  • swastika

    Reply Reply November 19, 2012

    Very neatly and clearly explained ,thank you swastika

  • Daniela

    Reply Reply November 9, 2012

    Hi Ethan,
    I use cotton swabs for shading. I guess not the tool is important but the technique you teach us. Thank you for sharing your techniques with us. I have learned a lot.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply November 10, 2012

      Yes you are absolutely right! It’s always better to take action and not let things get in the way.

  • Louise

    Reply Reply November 9, 2012

    Great video… Do you not use different degrees of graphite to draw and get different effects. I took art classes many many years ago and they never showed how to use a tortilla…we learned blending techniques with different grades of graphite. I love to learn new techniques..

  • Sean

    Reply Reply October 27, 2012

    Hi Ethan
    I struggle to find a tortilla in many stationary shops so i did one thing i make my own tortilla
    Is that fine??

    Please reply

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 27, 2012

      Hi Sean,
      Yes, this is absolutely fine. As long as you can use it to spread and blend the graphite, it will get the job done. Great job on being resourceful and not letting a little problem stop you πŸ™‚

  • Angela

    Reply Reply October 27, 2012

    Hi I have done the first three. loving it .

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 27, 2012


  • puja...

    Reply Reply October 27, 2012

    hello ethan, my problem is the drawing, i cannot draw, i know how to shade (in fact i’m excellent in this, though for some it is the most difficult part) but to draw…
    what tip can you give to me for this…??

  • Mel

    Reply Reply October 26, 2012

    Thanks for sharing your drawing tips. I am enjoying the video’s very much. You are very kind to show these for free. Thanks and God bless you.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 27, 2012

      You’re very welcome, Mel! It’s my pleasure. Thank you for the comment.

  • pauline

    Reply Reply October 22, 2012

    I am enjoying your videos. You have the knack of transferring information in a very intelligent way.

    Thank you.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 22, 2012

      Thank you very much! I try πŸ™‚

  • Ruth Fredericks

    Reply Reply October 21, 2012

    I am having so much fun!

  • Floria Wright

    Reply Reply October 20, 2012

    Best tutorial I have ever come across. Thank You!

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 20, 2012

      Wow. Thank you very much for the kind compliment.

  • Richard

    Reply Reply October 20, 2012

    Just fantastic ! ! Interesting ! ! I have no problem to follow and do understand easily. Keep watching ( and practising) that is the secret !

  • eira

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    once again y have been so clear in your explainations. I look forward to the next video

  • Sharon

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    love the shading effect it made the sphere pop !

  • Flickartist

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    a very informative lesson delivered in a friendly professional manner, thankyou

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    Very clear, precise and nice explanation!

  • Linda

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    The video was very interesting and good practice. Thanks for your time.

  • Jean

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    enjoyed technique of shading

  • Bobbie

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    shading is my hardest, and how to put wrinkles that don’t just look like lines

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply October 19, 2012

      That’s a great idea Bobbie. I will definitely try to make a tutorial about that one. Thanks!

  • ronald

    Reply Reply October 18, 2012

    i can do shading but somehow always get dark areas and not very smooth hoping this video will help

  • Faye

    Reply Reply October 18, 2012

    I found the video very helpful. Thank you,

  • Precious

    Reply Reply October 8, 2012

    That’s a sklilufl answer to a difficult question

  • Joy Brand

    Reply Reply October 3, 2012

    I really liked the time flow of this video; I’d followed another artist’s video on sphere’s and it was app. 1 hr & 10 min.

    With your video, I paused it once, but will be more willing to re-watch it as I practice than the other, lenghly video.

    Many thanks,
    Joy Brand

  • apiz

    Reply Reply September 24, 2012

    nice tips πŸ™‚

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 28, 2012

      Glad you liked it!

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply September 20, 2012

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such excellent information being shared freely out there.

  • Timonthy

    Reply Reply September 16, 2012

    Oh my god, i dont think i can do it but… Yep, i did it. This is first time i drew something like this, it’s reeaally cool..!!

    Thank you much much much!!

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 16, 2012

      Awesome! Keep it up, Tim.

  • Jazzie

    Reply Reply September 10, 2012

    Takes a lot of practice, but end result is fantastic!

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 10, 2012

      Hi Jazzie,
      Sounds like you’re seeing some great results with your drawing. Please feel to post it (or send it to me) so we can share your progress with everyone here :-).

  • Jazlin

    Reply Reply September 9, 2012

    Of the 5 lessons, this is the best.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 10, 2012

      Thanks you, Jazlin.

  • Tommy

    Reply Reply September 9, 2012

    Itˇs really a great and useful piece of info. Iˇm satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Reply Reply September 9, 2012

    great to day , loved it thanks

  • Eddy

    Reply Reply September 8, 2012

    I like this. So glad I found your site!

  • george macgregor

    Reply Reply September 8, 2012

    very enjoyable, how soft a pencil should i use for this exercise.


    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 8, 2012

      Hi George,
      You want the lead to be a little bit softer than normal. That way it will spread easier when you blend it. I find that 2B lead works best (or if you are using a regular pencil — a 2B pencil), but if you can only find HB lead, that will work fine too. But when it comes down to it, which ever softness you find works best for you is optimum. I hope that helps. Thanks for the question.

  • Jayson Herrera

    Reply Reply September 8, 2012

    wow, this is a very good technique. Can’t wait for tomorrows lesson!

  • Nikola

    Reply Reply September 7, 2012

    Which pencil do you use?

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 8, 2012

      Hi Nikola,
      I used a .5mm mechanical pencil. The brand of the pencil doesn’t really matter (they’re all the same). But if you can, try to use 2B lead in the pencil (instead of HB). It’s makes it a little easier to shade with (but not a big deal). Hope that helps.

  • Meo

    Reply Reply September 7, 2012

    The reference sphere was not in the tutorial outside of the video.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 7, 2012

      Ops! I was so busy created the upcoming tutorials I must’ve forgotten. πŸ™‚ Good catch, Meo. I’ve added it to the post now. Sorry for the delay.

  • sue holland

    Reply Reply September 7, 2012

    Ethan you are amaing, what a great teacher taking your time so that real beginers like myself can’t fail. can’t wait for tomorrow. Thank you

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 7, 2012

      You are very welcome Sue. I’m glad I could help.

  • Kaye

    Reply Reply September 7, 2012

    Hi I love your way of teaching, I may be able to draw after these lessons, thanks for your help.

    • Ethan [My Drawing Tutorials]

      Reply Reply September 7, 2012

      That’s fantastic. Thank you!

  • Dennis Woods

    Reply Reply September 7, 2012


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