Create #13: Shadow Drawing

By Caitlin Howells

As autumn deepens to winter, the quality of the light changes; the days shorten and shadows lengthen; I love the stark quality of winter sunlight.

Shadow tracing is a lovely activity to try in late autumn and winter.

Naked trees in winter cast amazing shadows and, if you like to be outdoors in the elements, this activity may be for you.


  • Wait for a bright sunny winters day
  • Take either a large piece of paper or card, and a chunky pen, pastel or charcoal, or just some chalks or charcoal
  • Walk around your village or garden and notice how many interesting tree shadows you can find
  • Photograph them with your phone if you like
  • If you find a shadow you like that is cast over paving, concrete or a tarmac path you can try tracing the edges of the shadow with chalk or charcoal directly onto the ground
  • Colour in the middle (positive space) if you wish, or leave it as a silhouette
  • Your ghostly shadow image will fade with time and the elements.

If you find a detailed tree or plant shadow that will fit you paper, place your paper or card on the ground so the shadow is cast upon it .

If it’s a sharp clearly defined shadow , use your pen, chalk or charcoal to trace all the outlines of the shadow.

You will need

  • Paper—normal or greaseproof
  • Pens, pencil, charcoal or chalk

Activity Guide

Click the button to download this activity guide as a PDF. If you would like to receive one of our Activity Packs in the post, please email with your full name and address, including postcode.


You can extend this activity once home, by using paint, crayon, pencil or pen to fill in the negative space (all the space around your shadow drawing).

This can be plain and solid colour, or try a mixture of pattern, or other drawn or painted work.

This will lead to some interesting abstract work and is a meditative and enjoyable way to work to help with artistic confidence and freeing up your mind from its inner critic.

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