Mechanical Pencil Shading Techniques

Written by jake essene
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Mechanical Pencil Shading Techniques
An artist can use mechanical pencils to create realistic shading in drawings. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Some artists prefer drawing with mechanical pencils over drawing with wooden pencils. You can create beautifully-shaded pencil sketches and drawings with a mechanical pencil by using techniques only slightly different than those used with traditional pencils. Knowing the basics of shading with mechanical pencils helps you to create depth and realism in your drawings.

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Cross Hatching

Cross hatching works particularly well with a mechanical pencil, because the lead's tip is easier to keep sharp than a traditional wooden pencil's tip, and therefore can draw precise lines easily. Create cross hatching shading by drawing short lines, or hatches, at varying angles to one another. Compact, closely "woven" hatches create darker shading, while lighter areas can be achieved with sparse hatching.


Scribbling produces shading that is somewhat softer to the eye than cross hatching. For scribbling, you will want a slightly dull lead. This can be achieved by running the tip of a sharp lead across a scrap of paper until it flattens. Use a circling motion to create your scribbles. Tighter scribbles create darkly-shadowed areas and looser scribbles create lighter areas.

Smooth Shading

Smooth shading is perhaps the most common method of shading. With a mechanical pencil, smooth shading works best if the lead's tip has been flattened. Using the flat area of the lead, apply solid layers of shading to the paper. Multiple layers of tone create dark shading and fewer, more translucent layers create light shading.

Using a Blender

A blender is a drawing tool, often made of paper, that allows an artist to soften lines in a drawing and blend them together. You may wish to use a blender, if you tried any of the above shading techniques and found it difficult to make the shading appear continuous and realistic. Gently rub the blender across the lines of your shading to meld the different layers of tone together. Be careful, however, to maintain the dark and light values of the shading.

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