Sand Dollar Drawing

Happy Weekend Everyone!  I hope you are having a great summer!  For those budding artists out there, I also hope you’ll try your hand at drawing a sand dollar with me…and PLEASE send me a photo of your finished drawing, so I can post it in the student gallery. 🙂

The sand dollar above is one I drew for my friend, Lisa, before she moved away.  It is based on a photo of a sand dollar she took at the bay near our neighborhood.  Since the sand dollar was mostly white, I used VERY LIGHT pencil strokes when drawing it.  However, those strokes were too light for my camera to really pick up, so I drew another one using darker strokes for this post.  I recommend using very light strokes for your drawing though.

I also did my beginning sketch for Lisa’s sand dollar using my medium blue pencil, but since colored pencil doesn’t erase well, feel free to do your initial sketch using a regular #2 pencil (again, VERY LIGHTLY).  That is what I did for this post.  So here we go, are you ready?

I started out by drawing a 3″x3″ square for my sand dollar to fit into.  Feel free to make yours any size you choose, but I wanted something small and manageable to give as a gift.

Once I had my square, I began “mapping” the outline of the sand dollar based on Lisa’s photo. If you’re feeling brave, go ahead and use a good medium blue pencil instead of graphite.  If not, just use a regular #2 pencil for now.

Here you see the complete outline.

Next, I “mapped” out the shapes inside the sand dollar.  My lines are darker than normal, to show up on camera, but try to keep yours VERY LIGHT.

I added just a touch more detail before beginning my value study, but you could probably skip this step if you want and just add the detail in the next step.

Ok, now we’re ready for the “blue and white value study”.  The purpose of a value study is to make sure you get all of your highlights and shadows in.  The contrast between highlights and shadows is what gives a drawing dimension.  The reason I use blue is that all shadows have blue in them.  Since we’re drawing on white paper, we will only use a blue pencil.  The paper will be our “white,” so be careful with your shading…once the white is gone, it’s gone.  A white pencil cannot fully restore the white of the paper.  I am chronically bad about loosing my white…I even did it in THIS drawing.

Let’s get started.  First, I went over my pencil lines lightly with blue.  If you did your sketch in blue pencil, you can obviously skip this step. ;0)

Then I added in the shading on the sand dollar (based on the shading I see in the photo) and colored my background in with blue, to make my sand dollar really stand out.

Once the value study is complete, you’ll need to neutralize all of that blue by going over it lightly with brown.  I usually use a good medium brown for this, but the sand dollar was so light, I decided to use a slightly lighter brown.

See how much more natural that looks already?  Now you can add the colors you see in the photo to your drawing. Just stare at the photo until you start noticing hints of color, then add them to your drawing where you see them.  You can see the colors I chose below.

When I look at Lisa’s photo, I see a lot of yellow in the shaded areas of the sand dollar, so I chose three different yellows: light, medium, and dark.  I also see hints of reddish brown and dark green, especially in the lines around the “petals.”

Once I had all of the colors added to the shaded areas of the sand dollar, I went over the sand dollar with my white pencil to blend the colors together.

I decided to make my background very dark green to compliment the hints of green on the sand dollar.  Finally, I added black ONLY TO THE DEEPEST SHADOWS in the “holes” of the sand dollar.

And that’s it!  I can’t wait to see your sand dollar drawings!  You can send them to me at  Please include your first name, age (although you can leave your age off if you’d rather…this is for kids and adults), and general geographic location (ie. Florida).  Thanks and God Bless!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tristan Miller
    May 08, 2016 @ 03:44:14

    Amazing!!! Just Wow!! I did this as a mother day gifting my mom loved it thank you so much!!!


    • casswan
      May 08, 2016 @ 11:40:06

      Oh, I’m so glad! I would love to post a photo of your drawing in my student gallery if you’d like to share it. If so, just email your photo to Even if you don’t want to post it, I’d still love to see it. Just include a note not to post it if you don’t want it posted. Thanks, and Hapay Mother’s Day to your mom!


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