Shading Exercise: How to draw a coffee cup for Beginners

If you know how to draw a coffee cup, you can draw almost anything. The seemingly simple object turns out to be a real challenge, revealing any weaknesses in the representation of light and shadow.

With the help of some hatching techniques, a little patience and this tutorial, you will be able to overcome this hurdle.

Required Material

  • HB Pencil
  • 2B Pencil
  • Kneaded Eraser
  • Drawing Paper
  • Coffee cup

Learning how to draw a coffee cup: The tutorial

Make sure that you only draw very faint lines until step 3. This is the only way to create a perfect preliminary drawing that you can still erase with the right hatching techniques.

Step 1: Draw the shape of the coffee cup

How to draw a coffee cup 1

Grab a coffee cup and put it in front of you. Put it in a position where you can see it. In our case, we placed the cup on a saucer to be able to play with the shadows even better.
Three faint vertical lines will help you mark the round shape of the cup.

Now carefully work out the remaining lines as well. Beside the cup and the handle, you should draw the outlines of the saucer, as in our case.

How to draw a coffee cup 2

Step 2: Elaborate on the sketch

How to draw a coffee cup 3

The faintly applied brush strokes from step 1 should now be worked out a little bit more precise with a pencil. Use your eraser and erase the faint strokes before replacing them with more accurate ones.

Step 3: Start shading

Once the initial drawing is complete, learning how to draw a coffee cup is just a matter of the right technique and understanding of light reflections.

In our case, the light hits the surface of the cup from a semi-frontal direction offset to the right. This creates some bright areas at the corner where the light hits the cup directly. The other regions create shadows and are darker.

Now use one of the many shading techniques. In our case, we combined ordinary hatching with different layers of cross-hatching. The darkest areas were created in cross-hatchings with 3 to 4 layers of soft pencil graphite.

The more layers you apply on top of each other in opposite directions, the denser and thus darker the shading becomes.

On the left side of the coffee cup, you see a cross-hatching after the 4th layering.

Step 4: Adjust the shading

You do not have to hatch all areas of the coffee cup very densely. Some areas can remain unshaded entirely to make the object look more realistic in the light.

Areas that are just a little darker than the brightest parts of the subject are best shown with simple hatching or loose cross-hatching.

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