Candy Study

  • Software:Photoshop CS6  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Rules of the Exercise

  • 1
    Download and Open this exercise practice sheet.
  • 2
    Study the different materials and textures of each individual candy
  • 3
    Once finished, submit your exercise to be reviewed and looked over under the "Submissions" tab for grading!


  While this exercise may sound sweet and simple, it's actually quite the underlying challenge. We are looking at how to re-create 6 different types of candies and look at look at them analytically. So what distinguishes a jelly bear gummie from a candy cane? Just from looking at them both you can tell, They treat lighting differently and the surface material is vastly different. It is our job as digital artists to be able to analyze a material and be able to know how to capture and re-create the same look and feel on a canvas. So don't be fooled by the simplicity of the allure of candy, for this exercise is bittersweet! What are the 6 confectionery treats we will be taking a closer look at? Go through each below with some tips to look for to re-create your own!

  • Jelly (Gummy) Bear - The light will be split, half being reflected and the other being absorbed. The light that passes through the surface will create a subsurface scattering effect making it appear as if the material has a soft glow of color.
  • Jelly Bean - This hard surface candy will still absorb some of that light must will mostly be reflected. If a gummy bear was 50/50 on light being reflected/absorbed, this would be around 75/25.
  • Peppermint - Recreating this surface will require an attentive focus to highlights and where you are placing them. Stay concentrated and intense will your highlights.
  • Sucker - This is similar to the gummy bear is that light will pass through and you can see the contents within (the stick of the sucker is still visible), but also carries the surface of a hard candy and will give more concentrated highlights similar to the peppermint.
  • Sugar Coated - This is all about the outer coating of texture. Take the initial direction of a gummy and then coat it with a speckle brush.
  • Licorice - This is similar to the peppermint but not as intense and the focus here will be on the ridges to accurately capture how light affects the surfaces.

Below is the practice worksheet that you can download! You can find this on the "Downloads" tab under the header image near the top of this exercise! (You can hide the green extra tips and guidelines) Exercise_27_PracticeSheet


  Reference. Reference. Reference. The best way to capture what you're drawing is to look from reference. The internet can show you most anything you are looking for. Sometimes it helps taking the reference pictures yourself or having the subject matter in front of you. Below is an example of the 6 different candies from the exercise practice sheet. Really analyze the different candy and how each reflects and absorbs light. candyexamples We also had a candy contest last year looking to capture the different confectionery candies in character form. candycraverscontest-1024x433


  This is sweet way to strengthen your artist eye and be able to capture different lighting information on different subject matters. Take what you learn from this and apply it to any texture and material!


  Here is my finished 6 candies with a step by step on how I went about doing each. I think it's important to note that each step is rather simple once you break it down. It was also fun being able to see how colors interact on such a macro level of detailing from how many shades of red go into a gummy bear or to see how a simple gray bounce light can add soooo much more realism and depth to the drawing. I hope this guide helps you guys out if you were getting stuck at some point on your own.

  1. Outline - Begin with the overall look and shape to each candy, remembering to either have them be on a surface or not.
  2. Solid Base - Choose a color and try grabbing colors from reference!
  3. Initial Detail Pass - Before laying down another color, focus on where you want your light source and stay consistent throughout! Also bear in mind whether the light will pass through the surface and be absorbed or will it be mostly reflected.
  4. Remove Outlines and Add Gradients - This will give the gem a solid foundation from here to detail further! Subtle gradients will add that extra touch of realism.
  5. Surface, Highlights, and Bounce Lighting - This is the hardest step. Really focus on the lighting on how it interacts with each candy. And for bounce lighting try working with the color in the local surrounding environment (in this case a neutral grey) The subtle surface textures will add a sense of realism as well.
  6. Shadows - This is a good exercise to see how color can pass with the lighting into the shadow, depending on the material you are working with. A gummy bear will pass color into a shadow far more than a piece of licorice. So it's all about observing and analyzing how lighting interacts!

And here's the gold speckle brush used on the gumdrop: Gold Speckle Brushexercise27_stepbystep Now I was impressed to see how many entered submissions for this exercise and to see what is generally grasped over other concepts. I think as a whole it seemed that different materials were shaded well now we have to work on pushing the bounce lighting to add more depth. Lighting will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE. So remember that adding light doesn't just mean adding white and blending it in. Light also affects color hues so remember to try adding warmth to light hues and make shadows more cool colors (often a neutral grey will do the trick!) Below are my top picks for this exercise. I liked what i was seeing in terms of different surface textures, lighting nuances, and overall depth of that candy. I think they all looked pretty "sweet". See you guys next week for the next exercise =D usersubmissions3 When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the "Submissions" tab near the top of this exercise. You can see other submissions alongside your own!