How to Shade Graffiti

Written by alana armstrong
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How to Shade Graffiti
Blend multiple colours to give graffiti extra pop. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Once considered just a mischievous prank, graffiti today can be a work of art. With your graffiti outline laid out and ready to shade, you can pick some colours with "pop" factor. Online sites have dissected some graffiti pieces to give you colour combinations that can make graffiti amazing. Alternatively, you can go for a walk in the closest urban area to take some design direction right from the graffiti you see in the streets. After you pick the colours, shading your piece and giving it some playful 3-D effects is the fun part.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Graffiti on paper (outlined with black)
  • Pencil
  • Pencil crayons (various colours)
  • Ink/paint markers (various colours)
  • White paint marker

Show MoreHide


    Bubble Letters

  1. 1

    Use a pencil to draw small oblong or kidney shapes in the top left or right-hand corners of your letters. These will be left white (or unshaded). These areas of "shine" will designate the areas where light will be hitting your letters, giving them a 3-D effect.

  2. 2

    Use pencil crayon or marker to outline each letter, just inside the edges of each letter. This creates a buffer so that you are less likely to colour outside of the lines.

  3. 3

    Use sharp quick lines to shade the entire piece in a solid colour. Each letter can be a different colour, as long as it's solid.

  4. 4

    Outline each of the shine spots with a hard, solid line in the same colour as the rest of the letter. Or, use soft circular strokes with the pencil crayon around the edge of the white spots to blend the spot into the colour of the letter for a more natural effect.

    Block Letters

  1. 1

    Start shading in the letters by outlining letters just inside the edges and moving toward the middle.

  2. 2

    Use linear strokes to colour in each letter until they are all equally shaded in.

  3. 3

    Use a white poster paint marker with a thin tip to add in the light source. On block letters, the shine comes out more linear and should follow the lines and corners that the imaginary light source is hitting.

    Multicolour Fade

  1. 1

    Divide the letter horizontally by the number of colours you want in the letters.

  2. 2

    Use pencil crayon or marker to block out each divided area with solid colour. The colours should meet at the point that they will be blending.

  3. 3

    Layer the two colours where they meet to create a blended effect.

Tips and warnings

  • Place a scrap sheet of paper beneath the page you're working on to prevent paint and ink from bleeding through to the surface beneath it.
  • Similar colours, or two shades of the same colour are much easier to blend than two different colours. Try out your colour blends on a spare piece of paper before you start applying colours on your finished piece.
  • Do not go over marker lines more than once or the ink will bleed into other colours or through the paper.

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