How to Shade Using Pencil

To shade a drawing is to capture the lightest lights and darkest darks and the grey areas in between on a drawing. It's the shading in a drawing that helps to establish visual effects such as the tones and values as well as the form of the object. Shade your drawing with graphite pencils, charcoals and coloured pencils. Use shading tools that create different shading effects. Learning to shade your pencil drawings with these tools will give you additional flexibility in how you render the shading on your drawing.

Choose a paper that has a rough tooth if you want your pencil shading to have texture. The tooth is the texture of the paper; the greater the tooth, the rougher the paper. The tooth of the paper has a strong influence on how the shading of your drawing looks. Try making shading studies using a couple of different kinds of papers before you draw anything. You'll learn how each paper reacts to your pencil shading.

Lay your pencil on its side and move your hand in the direction that best helps to visually describe the object. For example, if you're shading a ball, move your hand in a semicircle motion. For a cylinder, you'd move your hand up and down so that the cylinder is shaded with vertical strokes. This represents one of the most common ways of shading, but not the only one.

Make hatch marks to create shading. Hatch marks are lines that you draw parallel to one another to create the illusion of shading. The closer the hatch lines are to one another, the darker the shading will be. The more space between each line, the lighter. A cross hatch works with parallel lines going one direction being cross by lines going in the opposite direction. Although this is also a common shading technique for pencils of different kinds, many artists who draw with pen and ink also use this method to shade a drawing.

Experiment with coloured pencils and charcoals as well as different kinds of graphite pencils. Each of these drawing pencils creates a different kind of mark on the paper, but all can be used in the same basic way that a pencil can be in terms of shading. Additionally, by combining graphite and charcoal pencils, your shading will take on a different quality; it will become reflective. This is handy when shading an object like glass or metal. Finally, most pencils have numbers with an "H" or a "B" on them. The "Bs" have softer lead and make your shading darker. The "H" pencils possess hard leads; the shading qualities of these is quite different than the soft leads. Include different pencils of both kinds in your experiment to see how they shade.

Create smooth shading by blending your shaded areas will a tortillon or blending stump. These are pointed, rolled pieces of paper. Use the pointed tip to shade your drawing so that the appearance is smooth. These work well for shading facial features. Use the chamois cloth to blend the pencil shading in larger areas of your picture.

Things You'll Need

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Charcoal pencils
  • Coloured pencils
  • Chamois cloth
  • Tortillon
  • Blending stump
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About the Author

Buffy Naillon has worked in the media industry since 1999, contributing to Germany's "Der Spiegel" magazine and various websites. She received a bachelor's degree in German from Boise State University. Naillon also attended New York University and participated in the foreign exchange program at Germany's Saarland University. She is completing her master's degree in educational technology at Boise State.