Pencil Shading Techniques

Pencil Shading Techniques

When drawing a realistic image, to create the illusion of realism, you absolutely must have a firm grasp on light and shadows. For this tutorial, we’ll focus on four different types of pencil shading – crosshatching, “slinky”, smooth, and stippling.

The first example is the “slinky” method of shading. You can implement this style of shading by using a quick back-and-forth motion with the pencil to create a line that resembles a slinky. This method of pencil shading is great for doing quick sketches, or any type of drawing that doesn’t require much detail.

Next, we’ll cover crosshatching. This is a very popular method of shading that is also very common when using a pen or marker. This method of shading involves drawing alternate sets of lines on top of each other in a criss-cross pattern. The closer together the lines are, the darker the shading will be. Highlights are produced by allowing a lot of space between the lines, or leaving them out completely.

Smooth shading is my favorite way to shade with a pencil. This type of shading is very soft, and creates the most realistic effects of any shading technique. Smooth shading is done much like coloring with a crayon. Use the same amount of pressure to create a uniform layer of graphite. For an even smoother look, you can use a cloth or piece of tissue to blend the graphite over the shaded area.
Just as smooth shading is my favorite way to shade, stippling is my LEAST favorite. Like crosshatching, stippling – also known as pointillism – is another common form of shading that is also used in pen drawings. Stippling borrows the same principle from crosshatching to create shading – more dots closer together makes a darker shadow. Highlights are formed by spacing the dots farther and farther apart or leaving them out completely.
Not to say that these four methods are the only pencil shading techniques out there, but these should cover most of your needs. You will find that different applications require different methods of shading to produce different results, (i.e. you would not use smooth shading when drawing with a pen, etc.). As always, practice makes perfect, so get out there and draw your heart out!

Recommended Shading Materials
Castell 9000 Graphite Sketch Pencil Sets Art Set Tin set of 12 8B - 2H
Faber Castell 12 Pencil Set

This pencil set is a great one for all the shading you could ever want to do. These pencils are a little more on the darker side than most, which is great for getting smooth, deep shades.

These pencils range from 8B (darkest) to 2H (lightest).

Get it here.

Kneaded Rubber Erasers extra large each

Kneaded Rubber Eraser

When you’re doing smooth shading, it is easy to accidentally shade a little too much. If you run into this problem, the absolute best eraser to pick up dark pencil is a kneaded rubber eraser. This isn’t a traditional eraser, it is very soft and moldable. This softness is what helps this eraser to remove lots of pencil off the paper and leave a crisp white underneath.

Get it here.
Microperm 3 pack Black fine line set pen set

Microperm Fine Tipped Marker Pen Set

If stippling or pointillism is what you’re trying to do, then a fine-tipped pen set is the best tool you can have. You can do pointillism in pencil if you like, but the effect just isn’t the same as doing it in pen. This is a simple set that includes only 3 pens of different thicknesses– But, that is really all you would ever need.

Get it here.