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Elements of Art: Form and Volume

We will practice tone by Painting a Gray Scale or Value Scale.

Let's first answer the questions below?


  • What is a form?

  • Do you remember what a geometric shape is? Name some.

Shading exercise 1: Shade in the cylinder and cube, cone shapes below;

Think about the shapes ansd make sure that when you shade you follow the lines of shape. For instance: whwn shading a circle use circular and round lines.


Form is an element of art. At its most basic, a form is a three-dimensional geometrical figure (i.e.: sphere, cube, cylinder, cone, etc.), as opposed to a shape, which is two-dimensional, or flat.

A form always has three dimensions; length, width and height. When you stand next to an object you can go round it and see the three dimensions.

Volume (three-dimensional) can be simulated in a two-dimensional work (like a drawing) thanks to the use of light and shadows, perspective, etc.

Volume: A Shape in three dimensions. E. g. square to cube.


  1. Think of different light sources.

  2. Is there any difference between natural and artificial light?

  3. What happens when there is no light?

  4. What happens when an object stands in front of the light?

  5. Will the shade be the same if we change the position of the light?

Exercise 2: Create and label a value scale that has at least 5 colour values.

Black colour value gradation scale

Value Scale is a tool used to measure value.

Light and shadows are always visually define objects. Before you can draw the light and shadows you see, you need to train your eyes to see different values of lights in different objects. Values are the different shades of grey between white and black. We use values to translate the light and shadows to create the illusion of a third dimension.

A Successful Artwork has a Full Range of Value in your artwork.

Artworks that exhibit a full range of value are generally successful. It doesn't matter the type of art you are creating. As long as there are dark values in harmony with light values, your artwork will most likely be aesthetically pleasing.

Two different kinds of Shadows:

There are two kinds of shadows that occur when one light shines on an object, a cast shadow and a form shadow.

  • Cast shadow: When an object blocks a light source it creates a shadow. A cast shadow is not a solid shape but varies in tone and value. The farther a cast shadow is from the object the lighter and softer and less defined becomes its edges.

  • A form shadow is the less defined dark side on an object not facing the light source. Form shadows are subtle shadows, but they are essential for creating the illusion of volume, mass and depth.


  1. Where are the light values? Look for the lightest areas on the object. The very brightest of the lightest values are called highlights.

  2. Where are the dark values? Dark values often reveal the sections of the object that are in shadow. By locating shadows, you can usually identify the light source.

Example of shadows in three dimentional objects.

Shading an egg shape exercise : Can you use different types of shading techniques to shade in textures on an egg shape head? Think about the shape and make sure that when you shade you follow the lines of the shape. For example, when shading an ellipse using rounded lines.

Using Cross Countour Lines to Improve Your Painting

What is the difference between cross contour lines and contour lines? What are cross contour lines used for?

Line is the most fundamental element of art. You will learn the concept of cross contour lines and it’s effects on form and light. You will learn how to use cross contour lines to give the illusion of form and light.

Contour (outline) lines are simply "outlines". We typically use contour lines to define the edges of objects and details within them. Contour lines are visible lines or lines defined by contrast. In other words, we can actually see contour lines in most circumstances.

The best way to understand the concept of cross contour lines is to simply practice drawing them by observing a subject. Simple objects, like a pineapple , work best if you are new to this concept.

This is practical reason for understanding cross contour lines.

Cross contour lines are implied lines that may or may not be visible on the subject. Instead of defining the edges and details of the subject, cross contour lines describe the form. Cross contour lines flow over the form of the object.

This concept is important in communicating form in your drawings and paintings and can help you make smart decisions regarding the direction of your stroke - whether it be with a pencil, pen, or brush.

While cross contour lines can flow in generally any direction, in most circumstances, you'll want to consider lines that flow vertically or horizontally around the form. The brush strokes or marks made with a drawing medium are more effective in communicating the form of the subject if they flow with the cross contour lines.

The strokes that are made with a pencil or a brush should flow in harmony with the cross contours of the subject and in turn, communicate more about the form of the object. When combined with a consistent use of value, the illusion of form in a drawing or painting is easily achieved.

Cross contour lines used to commnunicate the form of the object further and create shows.

1. Students will draw a contour line of the the object

2. Students will trade objects and do another contour line drawing

3. Students will then do a blind contour line drawing

4. Students will trade objects and do another blind contour line drawing

5. Students will trade objects and do a contour line drawing and then enhance that drawing by adjusting line quality

6.Students will then enhance the drawing further by adding cross contour lines to indicate form and value