How to Shade With Pencil Crayons

Updated April 17, 2017

Dry painting methods, such as with coloured pencils, enable an artist to create very realistic drawings. Of course this takes considerable practice and an eye for detail. All artists use some basic principles which are known to work. Proportion, composition and depth are all main elements of any drawing or painting. Shading with colour is just as important and provides the all important ingredient needed to create true realism in a drawing. Colour pencils can take a graphite pencil drawing to a whole new level. Pencil crayons are coloured pencils, not to be confused with the thick coloured wax sticks.

Find a good reference image of something you would like to draw. Use a simple picture of a red sunset over the ocean, which will give you lots of shading possibilities. Compare the colours in the photograph to the colours in your pencil set. Hold the pencils on the image to find the right colours to use for the drawing. Use different shades for each colour as you select the pencils you will use.

Draw the horizon using a pencil and a ruler. Make sure the horizon is level. Outline the clouds in the sky, hiding the setting sun. Draw the outlines of the clouds as accurately as you can and examine the reference image for any details if you are unsure. Indicate some lines on the ocean to give the water surface some texture. Indicate any highlights as well as dark areas.

Shade in the sky using the appropriate sunset colours. Include all the different shades of red. Gradually work all colours from dark to light shades as you complete the sky. Draw the dark areas of the clouds and preserve any highlights. Add white to bright portions of the clouds to enhance these highlights. Use tissue paper and rub the shades into each other to create a very soft blend

Colour the ocean as you see it in the reference. Use dark blues going to lighter shades of blue. Include a little red as the sky is somewhat reflected on the ocean surface. Use tissue paper to blend the different shades of colour, making the transitions look seamless. Draw detailed features of the water using soft, curved lines to make them look like swells and ripples.

Refine your shading in smaller, detailed areas to preserve your lines using blending stumps. Use the appropriate size stump and be careful not to mistakenly use a used stump with a different colour. Erase any section that is to dark to recreate any highlights. Use black ebony pencils to create any hard shadows or dark areas. Blend the shading until all visible and unrealistic pencil marks are eliminated.

Take a break and return with a clear head to examine the drawing. Compare it to the reference and make any corrections that you deem necessary. You may spot things with fresh eyes that you missed before.

Things You'll Need

  • Smooth drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Pencil crayon set  (48 colours if possible)
  • Eraser
  • Blending stumps (small, medium, and large)
  • Tissue paper
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About the Author

Rod Kuster has been a writer and editor since 1995. His work has been published in "Computer Magazine," "Boom Magazine" and Shock Media. Kuster holds a B.A. in international development studies from the University of Dalhousie.