Create a pointy end on your kneaded eraser to dab each of the dots away. Dab lightly! It’s tedious but well worth it.
Apply light pressure with your pencil to create a base layer of shading. Use a soft pencil, like a 4B hardness, to create the middle shade. Move your arm back and forth rather than your wrist to maintain a smooth range of motion.
 Don’t press too hard with your pencil since it will make your marks more difficult to erase later on.
1.e) Pick out a few different pencil grades such as HB, 2B, 4B and 6B. Shade in order from hardest to softest pencil and go from left to right. Your goal is to blend the values together seamlessly so you get something that looks like image 1.a).
For the face on the right, I would use an HB for outlines and highlights, 4B for my first layer of shading, 5B for the second layer and light shadows, 6B for darker shadows and eye detailing, and finally a 9B for the darkest shadows.
Home Learn How to Draw How to shade & pencil shading techniques
Before you blend, make sure that your strokes are tight, the shading is even and there aren’t too many white and black dots. Blending smooths out your shading, but it’s not a miracle solution for lazy people. If your shading is sloppy to begin with, blending isn’t going to help.
Start with hatching for a basic shading technique. Hatching is making a series of parallel lines to simulate shadows in your drawing. You can space the lines closer together to make darker shadows or the lines can be spaced further apart to make the area seem brighter.
Pull hatching lines in one long stroke to keep them uniform. Hatching lines can be horizontal, vertical, or at an angle. Follow the angles and curves of objects with the shapes of your line to simulate a three-dimensional form.
For example, shade a round object with curved lines rather than straight lines.
The more textured the paper, the more white dots you will get across your drawing. This can make your drawing look very grainy.
If you’re shading into a lighter area, though, it helps to reduce the amount of pressure at the end of the stroke so you get a nice gradient instead of an abrupt change in value.
How to Shade a Face How to Shade an Eyeball …will add more soon! Understanding Pencil Grades
Work with stippling for a stylized look. Stippling is a time-intensive process of lifting your pencil up and down from the paper to make a series of dots on your drawing. Make an area of your drawing darker by keeping the dots close to one another.
 Instead of dots, make short lines that overlap to make shading in a more Impressionist style. Stippling works great for shading with a thicker marker.
5c.) Draw planar faces and shade them by coming up with as many lighting arrangements as you can think of.
5b.) Find 3 faces in a magazine and use a pen to outline major planes.
The side facing the light consists of the core light, highlight and mid-tones.
Core Shadow: The core shadow or form shadow is a dark strip that appears after the terminator. The appearance of the core shadow can be affected by reflections or multiple light sources. In ‘image 1’ the core shadow is less prominent on the left side due to reflections from the white table.
Reflected Light: Objects are not only lit by light sources, but also by reflected light. That’s why shadows are rarely ever black. Light bounces off different surfaces such as walls or even dust particles in the air, creating reflections.
These reflections can vary in color and value. Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to learn from this shading tutorial.
The addition of these values are subtle, but do their job in transforming a flat surface into a more shapely one. Also take a close look at the right forehead plane. The shading is even more subtle, but still does not come across as flat.
It’s good to have a set of different shading pencils in order to give your sketch a good depth. Having said that, a single pencil can work fine too if you can adjust your strokes, with or without the help of your shade card.
Create a value scale to use for cross referencing if needed.
Be careful when shading or outlining with sharp, hard pencils because they can leave deep indents in your paper which are very difficult to cover up.
To achieve a realistic drawing that communicates form and depth, your drawing will need to have a wide range of values. Invest in a set of high quality pencils with a range of grades that fit your specific drawing needs.
6a.) Shade the 2 shapes using an overhand grip while moving your elbow and shoulder. Make sure to scribble on a separate sheet of paper before you begin to increase the thickness of your lines. Make sure that each stroke you make reaches the full length of each shape. Only lift your pencil once you get from one end to the other.
Again, if you’re using a highly textured paper, you might get some black dots across your drawing. If you’re shading skin, these dots can look like stubble (it’s even worse when paired with white dots). If you’re going to use a blending tool on your drawing, remove the dots first!
Erase areas that have bright highlights. The areas closest to your light source will be the brightest parts of your drawings. Work gently with your eraser to lighten the areas in layers to develop a smooth transition from light to dark.
 Add white pencil or pastel to make solid white areas that pop. Use this sparingly so it isn’t too overwhelming. Certain materials will reflect light in different ways. Objects with metallic finishes will have a brighter highlight while objects with a matte finish will look duller.
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Avoid holding your pencil like you would if you were writing, especially if you just sharpened your pencil. The lines are more difficult to blend and it requires more time and effort to keep your strokes tight, not to mention cover more ground. A drawing shaded like this will look very scratchy.
4.a) Determine the direction of the light and shade vertically along each jagged line. Around sharp edges, tighten your terminator and loosen it around smoother edges. If you really want a challenge, give each image cast shadows as well.
The surface of a cube is much easier for someone to shade realistically compared to a sphere because you can clearly see which sides of the object are facing the light and which ones are facing away. These flat surfaces are called planes.
White: You may have seen artists use correctional fluid (whiteout), paint or white pencil crayon to bring out strong highlights in their drawing. This gives the drawing a very impactful look and can enhance the level realism. Here’s an example.
To shade drawings, start by deciding where the light is coming from in your drawing so you know where the shadows and highlights will fall. Then, lightly shade in your entire drawing to create a base layer of shading. Next, go back and heavily shade the parts of your drawing that are hidden from the light so they’re the darkest. Finally, erase the parts of your drawing that the light is directly shining on to create white highlights.
Black: With graphite pencils, you won’t get a deep black. However, you can achieve it with charcoal. They are actually very commonly used together with amazing results.
This is my favorite and most used technique, especially for speed drawings! It’s a huge time saver.
Download the printable worksheets below and follow the instructions carefully. If you don’t have a printer, that’s okay. Follow along using your sketchbook!
This is my longest tutorial to date, consisting of more than 3,400 words! I tried to cover as much as I could in this tutorial. If there’s something you’d like me to add, please let me know!
Drawing pencils are preferred, but regular pencils can work. Mechanical pencils should not be used, however, as the point is too sharp to properly draw lighter shades.
For the exercises below, try to implement the shading tips and techniques mentioned in Part 2 of the tutorial. You can apply different shading techniques to the exercises too (cross hatching, circulism, etc).
Determine the direction of your light source. Your light source will determine where the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights appear on your drawing. Shadows will be on the opposite side of your light source while highlights will appear where your light source is pointing.
 Work from real life or a photograph to understand how light affects the object you’re drawing. Move lights if you can to play with different shadow angles. People looking at your drawing will be drawn to the lightest areas of the drawing.
Determine the area that you want viewers to focus on and make it the brightest.
I’m going to use a sphere with one main light source as an example because the light is more predictable.
Planes angled towards the light directly are the lightest. As the planes start angling away from the light, they receive less and less light, hence appearing darker.
Start by using good quality sketch paper. Be careful. Think about the softness of your lead, because if it’s softer, that provokes smudging. An easier way for you to not worry about this is to permanently “fix” your drawings.
In other words, outline it with a good, thin permanent marker, and color it if you wish.
1.d) Shade a solid tone from one end of your sketchbook to the other. Lift your pencil every now and then and rotate it slightly before you continue shading. Don’t forget to scribble on a scrap piece of paper to test your pencil’s sharpness before you continue! Your goal is to make it look as though you never lifted the pencil at all.
Two Parts:Choosing a Shading MethodAdding Value to Your DrawingCommunity Q&A
Tip: When drawing wrinkly or rough skin, avoid blending your graphite.
The range of values can vary greatly from one portrait to another due to lighting or skin color. The 2 faces below have very different highlights, mid-tones and shadows.
Click the following link and hit the download button beside the printer icon to download the PDF: RapidFireArt Tutorials – How to Shade Pencil Shading Techniques
2.a) Draw a series of wide to narrow boxes. Shade each one using vertical strokes. Follow this pattern using one or multiple pencils: Shadow, Mid-tone, Highlight, Mid-tone, Shadow.
What are some easy things to draw for beginners learning to shade?
Shading is the process of applying varying levels of darkness to create the illusion of form and depth.
Click here for my extensive tutorial on how to shade a face!
In the image below, I used all of the realistic shading techniques above to convey wrinkly skin. For the first few layers, I used circulism, then I used the other three shading techniques to achieve various textures found in wrinkly skin.
You can tell how hard or soft a pencil is by looking at the combination of letters and numbers printed on the end of each pencil.
Circulism is my second favorite shading technique. It’s great for creating realistic skin textures. The idea is to draw many circles that overlap each other, building tone with each added layer.
Here’s an example from my face shading tutorial using the hatching technique.
Start working on shading simple shapes like cones, cubes, cylinders, and spheres. These shapes are the building blocks of every other shape you’ll need to shade. Charcoal and graphite are the easiest media to work with if you’re trying to get a smooth blended finish.
Pens, markers, and ink are best shaded with a form of hatching.
3c.) Select 3 very different faces from a magazine and draw vertical and horizontal contour lines across each face.
Use an overhand grip on your pencil paired with movement from your elbow and shoulder to create longer and straighter lines. This will give you a much wider range of motion compared to using just your wrist or finger joints. To shade darker, press your index finger down on the pencil’s tip.
The cross hatching technique consists of overlapping lines coming from multiple directions.
Sometimes, we may have the tendency to over represent or exaggerate subtle forms such as eye bags, pimples and smile lines. Instead of defining a form using an outline or line, practice representing these forms using gradients.
Tip: You can find the direction of the light source in a scene if you trace the edges of the cast shadow against the form it is cast from.
Darken the areas that are furthest from the light source. Press slightly harder with your pencil to make darker values on the opposite side of your light source. Build up layers of shading, working towards the darkest part of the drawing.
 Your darkest shadow is called the core shadow. Rounded shapes will have reflected shadows on the opposite side of the light source. These shadows are lighter than the core shadow but darker than the highlights.
When using this technique to draw skin with fine wrinkles, use a sharp tip. For smooth skin, angle your pencil more so you get slightly blunt circles which are much easier to blend, giving the skin a softer appearance.
A cast shadow appears when a form blocks light from reaching the surface of another form. The edges of a cast shadow can appear soft or hard depending on the intensity and distance of the light source. In direct sunlight the edges will appear hard, while in diffused light such as a cloudy day, edges will be soft.
Below are a few portrait pencil shading techniques for beginners and experienced artists alike.
Core Light: The area on the surface of a form that faces the light source directly. It is darker than the highlight. Highlight: A reflection of the light source on the form. The highlight is the lightest area and will appear in different places depending on your viewing angle.
At certain angles, the highlight will not exist in your line of sight. On glossy surfaces, it will be very defined, while appearing soft on matte surfaces. Mid-Tones: Mid-tones are the darkest values on the light side, and are lighter than the core shadow.
These areas are not facing the light directly. Mid-tones appear darker and darker as they approach the shadow side, as the surface of the form starts facing away from the light. Image 2
What tutorials would you like to see next? Let me know in the comments below!
Hard pencils produce clean, sharp and light lines which are great for sketching, architectural drawings, product sketches, etc. The harder the pencil, the more difficult it is to blend or smudge.
Try using the hatching method, putting more lines where you want the fur to look darker. Keep practicing and trying different things.
Before you shade anything, analyze your subject until you understand it’s contours instead of trying to figure it out as you draw. It really helps to observe your subject from multiple angles. Once you familiarize yourself with your subject, decide on how you will shade before you actually shade.
Use the same way that you use for shading with normal pencils. You may not have the ability to smudge them unless they are designed to do this, but they will work the same way.
Make a value scale from light to dark on a separate piece of paper. Draw a long rectangle and separate it with lines into 10 equal pieces. Shade the square on one side of the rectangle with your darkest value.
Start to add value to the adjacent square so it is lighter than the darkest value. Work on each square, making them progressively lighter, until you reach the other end of the rectangle. Leave the last square empty so that it is brightest value.
 Only use the values in your scale as you shade in your drawing. Use the same type of paper your drawing is on. Different papers have different textures and affect how the shades look. Aim to have smooth transitions between each of the squares rather than having drastic changes in value.
The square next to your lightest shade shouldn’t be too dark.
Before shading a portrait, it’s good practice to simplify what you see by breaking areas of the face into planes so your brain can process the information better. This allows you to find patterns of light more easily and can also improve your overall drawing accuracy.
If you need help selecting the best pencil grades for a portrait, create a value scale using your own graphite pencils, compare the values to your reference image directly and select the range of pencils that closely match the values you need.
Using multiple pencil grades makes the job easy because there is less effort required to achieve a lighter or darker shade. For example, it would have been difficult to shade the background using an HB and even more difficult to shade highlights using a 6B.
I use this technique to convey wrinkled or highly textured skin as well as some types of fabrics.
When shading with a variety of pencil grades, each pencil should only cover a small range of values.
This technique is similar to hatching or cross hatching, except you’re curving the lines to follow the contour of the form you are shading. Contour lines can be drawn vertically, horizontally and even diagonally. This is a great shading technique to practice giving form to your line drawings. With a sharp pencil tip, it’s great for shading fine wrinkles.
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This is a method I came up with a while back where I only use a specific shading technique to outline areas of light and shadow before I shade. I don’t want to explain it using 3 paragraphs every time I refer to it, so I’m going to call it shadow lining from now on. I think it’s a car detailing term but it fits, so I’ll just use it.
Shading fur is difficult for me, what can I do to shade fur easier?
Some easy things to draw as a beginner would include normal everyday objects like spoons, plates, bowls, and fruit. Easy objects like that will give you a simple idea of all the concepts if you so choose to include them.
Move up to animals and then humans if you like the process.
Does the overall shading of your portrait lack balance? Make sure your lighting is consistent across the entire portrait by keeping track of how dark you shade each area of the portrait. You can do this by referencing back to one main value. For me, the main value is the darkest or lightest value already established in the portrait.
If your tool belt currently consists of a single HB pencil, your portraits are probably lacking depth.
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For example: If I’m shading a face using the circulism method, I will also use circulism to outline shadows and highlights on the face. If you don’t outline your shadows or highlights, then this method may not apply to you (It’s very effective for drawing hairlines though).
You guys asked for it, so here it is: the most requested tutorial to date: How to Shade + Shading Techniques! 🙂
If you want to practice shading on simple objects, grab a bright lamp, a set of geometric shapes and set up a scene!
Shadow Lining is a great way to plan out your shading without having your outlines show through in your final drawing.
When shading, you are essentially reproducing the value of light as it interacts with a form. Understanding light is crucial in order to create a convincing portrait.
The center plane in the first image is shaded with a solid tone, making it appear flat. The following two images introduce a range of very subtle tones, giving the surface slight bumps.
Shading in many layers. You’ll notice that with each added layer, the dots reduce in size and number. You can also use a sharp pencil to carefully fill in large or weirdly shaped dots to improve the texture of your shading.
Or you can blend the graphite using a blending tool of your choice.
1.a) Without lifting your pencil or taking any breaks, draw tight lines back and forth from one end of your sketch book to the other. Gradually increase your pressure as you go. Your goal is to get a smooth gradient.
Is your shading incorrectly representing the form you intended to draw?
Your pencil grip and wrist movement should be generally loose, except when shading the darkest values and doing detailing work. Use light to medium pressure and switch to a softer pencil when the one you are using cannot go any darker.
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Can I use other branded pencils if I do not have drawing pencils?
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Use blending for a smooth appearance. Blending your shading gives your drawing a smooth and realistic finish and requires the most time and technique to do correctly. Shade with the side of a soft graphite pencil and increase the amount of pressure you apply to the paper to make transitions between light and dark values.
 Art pencils have varying degrees of hardness and are labeled with a number and either the letter B or H. Soft graphite is labeled with the letter B and gets softer with a higher number. Hard graphite is labeled with the letter H and is more difficult to use for smooth transitions the higher the number goes.
A standard number 2 pencil has an HB hardness, which is a medium between hard and soft graphite. Practice shading on simple polygon forms, like cubes and spheres before jumping in to shade your drawing.
You can also hold your pencil with a regular grip which would give you more precision, but it’s not as good for shading large spaces where you need the shading to be smooth.
5a.) Select any 3 objects around you and simplify them using geometric shapes. Shade them once you’re done.
The area immediately below the sphere is called an occlusion shadow and is usually the darkest area as it is least affected by reflected light.
Soft pencils produce dull and dark lines which are easy to blend. Soft pencils deposit more graphite with less effort, making it easy to fill in space, blend, shade and add texture to your drawing. They are the best pencils for shading and drawing portraits!
For the face on the left, I would shade my drawing with an HB for outlines and eye-whites, a 4B for the rest of the face and maybe a 6B for the pupils.
3b.) Make up your own shapes and add contour lines to them. Once you’re done, decide where the light is coming from and shade them in.
Blend your marks with a smudge stick if you want a smooth finish. Mix your values together, working from the darkest part of your drawing to the lightest. Use the side of the smudge stick to make smooth transitions between different values.
 Smudge sticks can be purchased at any art supply store or online. Don’t use your finger to blend values. Your finger gives you less control than a smudge stick and the oils from your skin could affect your drawing over time.
4B: Mid-tones, light shadows, detailing, hair, first layer of shading for clothes, background.
The pencil grades I use the most for portrait drawing are: HB, 4B, 6B and 8B from Derwent. You can click here to check it out on Amazon.
If you want to convey a round edge, avoid abrupt shading transitions. The more gradual your shading is, the more smooth your edge becomes.
Click here for a full step by step tutorial on how to shade a face
This position can, however work very well for shading areas of the skin with fine lines/wrinkles.
Add drop shadows for a realistic look. If you want your object to look three-dimensional, a drop shadow will make it look like your drawing exists in a deeper space. Your drop shadow will mimic the shape of the object casting it.
Determine the surface where the shadow would land, and use the side of your pencil to shade in the drop shadow. Look at a photograph or a still-life to see how your light angle affects the drop shadow.
The hardness of the edge of your drop shadow depends on the strength of your light source. Brighter lights will cause a harder edge while dim lights make the edges softer.
6B: Darkest shadows, hair, clothes, dark areas of background, pupils, inside the mouth and nostrils.
1.g) Select a few different pencil grades and shade a series of rectangles. Use only your pencil to blend each of the values together.
There are a few factors involved in achieving a smooth pencil shade.
It’s common for beginners to leave large areas of their portraits (such as cheeks) white. Areas that remain white or are shaded with a solid tone indicate that they are facing the same direction. Have a look at the center forehead plane in the three images below.
The hardest part of shading hands down is being able to add the right amount of value in the right spots.
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Practice shading simple forms like spheres, cylinders, and boxes. These forms are the main shapes used for shading people.
Are you frustrated by inconsistent, short, choppy strokes? Improve the quality of your strokes and increase your stroke length by harnessing the power of your elbow and shoulder.
1.f) Layering: Use an HB pencil to shade an even layer of graphite across the page. Split the area into 4 spaces labeling them 3, 2 and 1. Add a darker layer of graphite over your first layer from left to right and ease up on the pressure as you approach 1. Do the same thing except this time stopping at 2. Then the same thing for 3.
The HB pencil (aka #2 pencil) is absolutely great for drawing preliminary outlines and shading light areas because it doesn’t require much effort to produce faint lines. However, you’ll need to apply a lot of pressure when it comes to shading dark shadows. All this effort can damage your paper, resulting in a drawing that doesn’t translate well from multiple viewing angles. Not to mention, it will be impossible to erase.
In the image on the right, the light source is coming from the top left. The area facing the light is the light side and the area facing away from the light is the shadow side.
Yes Press down firm on darker parts and sometimes use chalk for the highlights, since it can also blend with the charcoal to add a gray for multiple tones of shading.
Aside from practicing proper shading and blending techniques, a good understanding of light, planes and contours are crucial for turning a flat line drawing into a realistic portrait that conveys the illusion of form, bringing your drawing to life.
You can click on the links below to quickly jump to any section of the tutorial. However, I highly suggest you read all the way through!
The longer a cast shadow gets, the lighter and softer it becomes due to reflected light from the environment around it.
To get a smooth shade, you’ll want thick strokes which are close together. Move your hand high up on the pencil and away from the tip. The more you angle the side of your lead towards the paper, the thicker your strokes will be. The thicker, the better! These strokes can be easily blended.
A blending stump is a white stick of paper with a pointed end on each side. You use it to rub the graphite from your pencil into the paper once you have added shade. It makes your shading look smoother, but it might remove some texture from the drawing.
Once the point gets blackened, you usually sand it to get more stump.
Use cross-hatching to shade quickly. Cross-hatching builds onto hatch marks by adding a second layer of lines going at an opposite direction. For example, first make parallel horizontal lines and then layer vertical lines on top of them.
This method of shading allows you to make areas darker quicker than basic hatching. Draw the cross-hatching lines close together to make a densely shaded area on your drawing or spread them apart to make it lighter.
Use hatch marks without a second layer to make a lighter shadow.
You can shade drawings all on the same layer, but it will also affect the line drawing you’ve made.
If you want your line drawings to pop off the page and simulate a three-dimensional look, add value and shading to your drawing. Shading adds depth, contrast, and helps direct the viewer’s eyes to the focal point of your art. After you choose a method for shading, you can start in your drawing and bring it to life!
Here are a few things to keep in mind before and while you shade:
Part 1: Understanding Pencil Grades ⦁ Intro to Graphite Pencils ⦁ Shading with One Pencil ⦁ Shading with a Variety of Pencils ⦁ Black and White Part 2: Pencil Shading Techniques ⦁ Hatching ⦁ Cross Hatching ⦁ Circulism ⦁ Contour Shading Part 3: Pencil Shading Tips & Tricks ⦁ How to Shade Smoothly ⦁ Increase your Range of Motion ⦁ Use the Right Amount of Pressure ⦁ Value Consistency Part 4: Understanding Light ⦁ The Light and Dark Side ⦁ Cast Shadow and Occlusion Shadow Part 5: Intro to Planes Part 6: Representing Form ⦁ Abrupt vs Gradual Shading Transitions ⦁ Is Your Drawing Too Flat? ⦁ Bumps and Ridges Part 7: Shading Practice ⦁ Shading Exercises and Printable Worksheets
Is there a way to shade on drawing apps that don’t use layers?
The side facing away from the light consists of the core shadow and reflected light.
Tip: If you re-positioned your hand on the pencil for any reason while shading, scribble on a scrap piece of paper until you regain the same stroke thickness before you continue with your drawing in case you catch a sharp edge.
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When using this technique, always angle your pencil more towards the paper so your strokes are nice and thick. This allows you to minimize gaps, making it easier to blend.
This shading technique consists of a series of lines that go in one general direction. You can increase the value by applying more pressure and or using a softer grade of pencil.
If you prefer to use only one pencil, I suggest using a 2B, 3B or 4B. They’re flexible enough to reach both ends of the value scale without much effort. If your drawings are usually light, go for a 2B. My favorite is 4B.
A typical full set of pencils will range from 9H (hardest) to 9B (softest). Having a full set is not necessary for portrait drawing. The range you need depends on the type of drawings you do.
HB: Preliminary outlines, some highlights, first layer of shading, eye-whites.
At this point, you may notice some inconsistencies. Make corrections by adding a few more layers where needed.