Drawing shiny metal objects isn’t as hard as it looks. You just have to get into right brain mode and draw the distortions you see, rather than what you think it should look like. Don’t think, see… better yet, work from a photo you’ve taken and turn it upside down along with your drawing board to make the distortions easier to see.

In order to complete the illusion of metal in a drawing, you need to understand the concepts of rendering reflection & lighting in your work. Notice how the highlight becomes smaller and more focused the shinier the object is. The ornament on the right has the largest area of highlight, while the ornaments on the far left has the smallest but brightest area of highlight. The shadows are also more defined on the shiny ornament on the left. These clearly defined shadows and highlights contour to the shape of the metal object and are often right next to each other. THAT is what makes metal look like metal.

Focused highlights on shiny objects

Spoon Example:

(the  following tutorial was taken from

1. As with any drawing, you will need to start with a basic outline of your object. For this example, I’ve chosen a spoon. It’s a simple object that everyone is familiar with so it is a good object to show how to draw the reflections within the metal.


2.  After you have your outline finished, you will need to outline the highlights, shadows, and reflection/refractions in the spoon. This is the most tricky part of the entire process. To create the illusion of metal, you will need to focus all your attention on drawing the reflections on the object EXACTLY as you see them. It also helps to have an understanding of how light behaves on shiny objects. For instance with the spoon, the reflections are going to contour to the shape of the spoon. With most drawings, you use shading to create volume in an object, but with something as shiny as this, there is no shading, because all the light bounces off of the surface. Therefore you will need to perfectly re-create the reflections in the spoon to give it shape and volume.


3.  After you have the shape, and outlines of the reflections in your object/spoon drawn, you can now fill them in with values. What makes metal look so shiny, is the contrast that it shows,(i.e. very light colors next to very dark colors, and crisp clean lines). When shading in the reflections, use the cleanest lines that you can to complete the illusion. Hopefully after a little finishing, and fine-tuning, you can get your drawing to look fairly realistic. Good luck!


Cross-Contour Drawing is a good drawing exercise to ‘see’ the surface of an object or form. The reflections, shadows, and highlights will follow along the cross-contours of the object. Think about a topographic map. The lines on the map show you the surface of the terrain. The same principle applies to the surface of an object.

topographic map sample

If you are having difficulty with the reflection and object appearing correctly in a 3-dimensional  aspect, practice a cross-contour drawing of your object.

cross contour still life

Composition should also be considered strongly when deciding on placement and arrangement of your subject matter.


  • What are you trying to say to your viewer with the still life?
    • The still life has been used throughout history by artists to express specific ideas.
  • Is there one, clear focal point to create emphasis and draw the viewer into the work?
  • Is the work balanced?
    • This does not only include the main subject matter – this includes the shadows of the subject matter.

This prezi will give you some knowledge of COMPOSITION that you can put to practice in your own artwork!

Examples from my students:

Here are some drawings of silverware by Carrie King’s AP Studio Art students:

Great videos of time lapse drawings of silverware

Chrome rims drawing

Drawing Metal – Step by Step samples:

Some drawings of metal faucets & doorknobs by Carrie King’s AP Studio Art students:

Drawing Metal – Complex still life works with metal objects by Carrie King’s AP Studio Art students:

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