Shading Techniques

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Pencil Portraits Drawn from your Photographs

Shading Techniques

In order to create the illusion of depth when drawing a recogonizable object, you must have a good understanding of light and shadow. To achieve this we’ll focus on four different techniques of pencil shading – hatching, crosshatching, smudging, and stippling.

The first method of shading is called “hatching”. You can implement this style of shading by using a quick back-and-forth motion with the pencil to create a series of parallel lines. Some people draw lines with each movement of the hand, in both directions, while others, myself included, prefer to draw the lines in one direction only, lifting the pencil off the paper for the return movement. Try to make the lines follow the contours of the shape. This means that objects with curved surfaces should not have straight hatching lines. And conversely, flat surfaces should not have any curved lines, only straight ones. This method of shading is suitable for doing quick sketches, or any drawing that doesn’t require fine detail.

The second method is “crosshatching”. This is a very popular method of shading that that can be used with many drawing mediums, pencil, pen or marker. This method of shading involves drawing alternate sets of lines on top of each other in a criss-cross pattern. The closer together the lines are, the darker the shading will be. Lighter tones and highlights are produced by allowing space between the lines, by pressing more lightly on the pencil or leaving them out completely.

“Smudge” shading is another way to shade with a pencil. This method of shading gives a very soft effect, and creates the most realistic result of any shading technique. First use a consistent pressure on the pencil to create a uniform layer of graphite. Then you use your finger, or a paper stump (which you can buy at good art shops; they are called ‘Tortillons’) if your finger is too big, or a soft cloth or piece of soft tissue to blend the graphite over the shaded area. Different tones are achieved by applying different pressures on the pencil to lay down different amounts of graphite, before using the stump.

“Stippling” – also known as “pointillism” – is another form of shading that can used in sketching. This is how images in newspapers are usually rendered. It involves laying down a series of dots, dark and light, large and small. “Stippling” employs a similar concept to “crosshatching” in order to create shading – more dots closer together makes a darker shadow. lighter tones and highlights are created by spacing the dots farther and farther apart or leaving them out completely.

These four methods are not the only pencil shading techniques being used today, but these should get you started. You will soon discover that different styles of drawing require different techniques of shading to create the effect you are looking for, (i.e. obviously you cannot use smudge shading when drawing with an ink pen or marker, etc.).

As always, practice makes perfect, so spend lots of time sketching with different shading methods until you find the ones that suit your style.

Watch the Speed-Painting of this Portrait.

See how hatching and crosshatching are used in this pencil portrait.

Click on the image or Click Here to view the Speed Painting.

Comments on Shading Techniques Leave a Comment

November 28, 2012

Awesome blogpost, I just wanted to say thanks a lot for sharing and keep writing. Take care, I am looking forwards to looking at your 3d work in the long term.

Hi there, I needed only like to say many thanks for a awesome weblog and continue the great work. Cheers, I am looking forwards to watching your 3d work in the future.

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