Shading in drawing – part II

March 15th, 2019 / Illustrations Basics

Welcome to the next part of the cycle devoted to shading and creating illusion of depth in drawing. The basic principles of building right values can also be learned in graphic programs. In fact, in every visual technique we will have to deal with the contrast from photography through painting, computer graphics and in the drawing at last. However, in this post we will focus on the basic techniques of the traditional sketch. At the first stage in the process of learning shading our friends will be a pencil, charcoal and eraser. We can also help ourselves with chalk, sepia and sanguine

As I mentioned in the previous post, it’s best to start learning to create the illusion of depth in shades of gray not in color. Understanding the basics is very important – we are building a solid foundation for further artistic experiments. Therefore, even if your goal is not realistic drawing, it is worth devoting a part of the time that you’re spending drawing to realistic shading. Illustration without contrast is always a neuter, regardless of the style you choose.

It will also be a great exercise for practice being patient, because decent shading requires a lot of effort. If you are making a quick sketch which main goal is to learn you the proportions or composition, of course, the values can be marked with a few sweeping strokes of a pencil. However, while we’re making commissioned portrait or practicing strictly shading skills, we must do a much harder job.

So how do you shade correctly ??

Well, everything depends on the effect and style we want to achieve – different surfaces will be shaded in different ways:

  • large areas with a homogeneous structure, e.g. metal objects, will be shaded with a short movement of a gently placed pencil, while changing the angle of it
  • if we want to create a gradient – so that the pencil turn in white (that at one point paper was visible) repeat the advice above, except that at some point begin to gently lift the pencil from the paper
shading Turdus Concept
Shading homogeneous areas.

To show the texture of the material that is drawn, we use shading methods generally referred as texturing:

  • in hatching we place thin lines parallel to each other – we remember to do it carefully, dashes can not be made anyhow, but deliberately.
hatching Turdus Concept
  • A variation of the hatch is the overlap of lines crossed with each other (cross hatching).
cross hatching Turdus Concept
Cross hatching
  • Another type of shading is stippling or dotting – you can even buy a special tool for dotting, which automatically puts dots on paper, making it easier for us to work, it looks like a pen. This and the above two methods are often found in comics or graphics, which do not allow for more subtle tonal transitions, e.g. linocut or screen printing.
dotting Turdus Concept
Stippling or dotting.
  • We can also shade with small circles or spiral movements
shading with circles Turdus Concept
Shading with circles or spirals.

What else affects the diversity of tonal gradations in pencil work:

  • hardness / softness of the pencil – for various purposes we use a variety of hard pencil (with markings F and H), semi-hard (HB) and soft ones (B). Each value has its limitations. A very hard pencil will not create 100% black on a piece of paper, while a very soft one will have a problem with a smooth tonal transition. We use rather hard pencils for drawings of a more technical nature, and for those with a sketchy character, we will also reach for softer ones.
  • the pressure of a pencil on a piece of paper
  • applying layers and changing pencils at the same time
  • paper grain

It’s also worth remembering what can help us with working on shading:

  • powdered charcoal – for large areas also I saw on YT that you can also use liquid charcoal for that
  • various thicknesses of pencils – for details 0.35 mm thick automatic pencils and 12 mm for larger surfaces,
  • We can erase the previously shaded paper and create an interesting effect by that, for example fur or cloud in the sky. Precise erasers in a wooden frame are great for creating  highlights,
  • mentioned in the last post blending tools for rubbing a pencil

And that would be enough for theory. Now it’s time to grab a pencil and practice all the techniques 🙂 So let’s get to work! To show me your achievements, find me in my Drawing Support Group on Facebook.

And next week I am coming back with another dose of knowledge, this time about shading in color and how to do it.