Portrait Drawing for Beginners – Part 4- Blending


Blending the shading is most important process when drawing a portrait. In order to produce a smooth gradient you must create a believable transition between the shading and light. Now, there are several methods to do this but I’m going to stick with only a couple. I believe that less is more when it comes to blending and if I can successfully create a transition without having to blend it then I will do so. But, since this is a beginners tutorial I will show you the most effective way to blend the shading on your portrait.

 Watch the Video



Blending Tools

Since this series is primarily focused on creating the gradients by layering. We don’t have to spend much time blending because our gradients pretty much get created by the process. So, we’ll just use a very subtle blending technique with a Q-tip, soft brush and a 4h pencil.

When to Start Blending

Obviously, you might find it difficult to blend the shading if you don’t have anything on the paper to blend. Whether you realize or not if you only have a couple of layers of graphite from any pencil up to a HB you probably don’t have much to work with. Typically, I will not start blending the shading on a portrait until I’ve put at least one layer from the 2b pencil on the paper.

Blending Methods to Use

The two methods I will be using in this video is brushing and burnishing. Both methods are equally effective to use on their own. But we are going to combine them to create a cohesive and smooth transition that will add interest and depth to the portrait.





When blending a gradient it is best to work out from the dark areas toward the light. This may sound familiar to you if you have followed any of the drawing lessons from this series. We follow the same method when we are creating our gradients with the pencils and building our layers.

The only difference is that you are using a blending tool as opposed to your pencil to smooth out the transitions. And since we’ve already created the gradients, you will only need to blend out the small strokes left by the pencil.

The brush will be used to spread the graphite into the areas on the paper that don’t have any value. That way whenever you need to pull a highlight out with eraser there will be something on the paper to pull from.

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