Drawing – Types of Shading


When drawing with different mediums it is necessary to use different types of shading in various types of situations.  For example if you use charcoal pencil you might not want to use the same blending techniques that you might would use for a graphite pencil. Alternatively, you may prefer using the same technique for all the mediums that you might use. I typically use three types of blending techniques, crosshatching, gradation and smudging. I use them in concert with each other to achieve various effects in my drawings.


This method is very good for showing contour and curve on an object. By varying the space between each hatch you can show the lighter and darker value in the drawing. Also, by changing the direction and the curve of each line in the crosshatch you can show its contour.




I find this to be a great technique when working on a smaller scale or you are drawing in a tight spot and there is not much room for error. You basically just draw a series of lines tightly bunched together. I prefer to start darker and decrease my pressure as I work out.




This technique is the easiest to learn and achieves more bang for the buck if applied properly. You can use your finger (not preferred), tortillon, smudge sticks, Kleenex, cotton swab, q-tips and the list goes on. I like using this technique when there is a large coverage area in your drawing that needs a gradient. Simply just start at darker area and smudge outward being careful to go with the direction of your pencil marks. This seems to make for a smoother transition than going across the grain.



Combining the Three

In reality using just one of the methods on your entire drawing would do the trick. But if you combine them in various different applications you can add depth to drawings. I like to use them all in some drawings and maybe a variation of crosshatching to achieve a desired textured affect.  In my drawing “The Sniffles” I applied the crosshatching technique along with a gradation to give the texture of the sweater. Whatever combination you use just remember to practice each one as to obtain a better understanding  of the techniques when you apply them.






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