Creative Art Shading Techniques

Written by nicole thomas
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Creative Art Shading Techniques
Shading techniques can be combined to give an image a unique look. ( Images)

For artists, sometimes the hardest part of creating the art is knowing how and where to shade their subjects. In their minds, artists pinpoint a light source's location while sketching out their newest piece of work. They'll refer to the invisible light source time and time again, correcting how it appears on their subject so it ends up looking more three-dimensional. The shading techniques an artist uses will depend on her medium and particular style. Some of the more commonly used shading techniques include hatching, scribbling and pointillism.


Hatching, also known as cross-hatching, is the process of drawing lines that intersect one another. Think of how you would draw a tic-tac-toe board and repeat it to cover a larger area. The closer together the cross-hatching lines are, the darker that area of the image gets. To ease away from the shading and create a midtone effect, artists use less hatching and space the lines out a little more until they reach the highlighted part of the image, or the area where shading isn't necessary.


Scribbling works when an artist moves his pen or pencil quickly back and forth across the page, allowing it to touch the paper in small intervals. This technique is most commonly seen in sketches due to its speed and lack of detail. The longer and closer a scribble line is, the more shaded the area. Scribbles are a great tool when wanting to show a sharp edge in a drawing. Take dragon scales that overlap, for example. Each scale must be shaded individually, making the scribbling technique ideal.

Circular Scribbling

Circular scribbling isn't as similar to scribbling as it sounds. Artists use this technique when using tools such as coloured pencils to colour and shade in areas without the grain of the paper showing through. Artists must keep their pencils sharp and colour lightly in very small circles. The end result has the potential to resemble a well-shaded piece of work similar to one that's done in acrylic or watercolour.


Pointillism is the technique of using dots to shade an area. The closer the dots are and the more populated an area of the image is, the darker it looks. This technique takes the most time and looks best from far away. Some artists use pointillism to not only shade their images, but also to colour them, using dots of different colours to make them blend at a distance. When done well, a piece of artwork shaded through pointillism can look just as good as one that's shaded with cross-hatching or scribbles.

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