Improving my Shading

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  09 September 2011
Improving my Shading

I recently posted a figure drawing I did and one of the criticisms I got was this one:

Originally Posted by Lunatique: Tortillons come in different sizes--they make really tiny ones too. But that's not really important, because it's absolutely possible to do incredible drawings without ever using any kind of smudging tool. It's all about how you control the amount of grain and the expressive strokes you make with your drawing tools. In fact, I would advise to not use smudging tools and still try to do a compelling drawing. That would be the best way to train your drawing ability. Of course, there is a time and a place to do smooth blending, but it's best to use that technique not as a crutch, but masterfully knowing exactly why you're doing it.

Now I want to start improving my shading with improving my control of the strokes I make. Any good ways to start doing this? I want to combine it with some basic anatomy drawing.

I'm talking about shading like this:

(from redpandafire's sketchbook thread)

Which pencils should I use, and how should I use them (I really dislike the 1H and 2H pencils)? Any books that teach you this or online tutorials?

I really want to master my pencil so to speak. Because right now I simply don't
  09 September 2011
The best way to master shading is take a photo of something you like and turn it black and white, and keep on using this technique and practice until you are know the fundamental of shading and it will helps a lot.
  09 September 2011
Originally Posted by QuynhChau: The best way to master shading is take a photo of something you like and turn it black and white, and keep on using this technique and practice until you are know the fundamental of shading and it will helps a lot.

I knew that technique already, but thanks But do any of you know of any exercises to practice pencil control?
  09 September 2011
1H and 2H are too hard/faint for typical pencil drawings, and will damage the tooth of the paper easily. Standard 2B is a good place to start, and you can get quite dark/soft by going to 6B. There is no reason why you can't just use 2B and do an amazing drawing though.

To shade properly it's really just two techniques:

1) Use the flat side of the lead tip for broad strokes.

2) Use the sharp tip but do closely spaced hatching that you can't really tell there's any spacing between them and looks seamless.

You can also purposely create spacing too for a more stylistic/expressive look.

That's it really. Some people might scribble softly in tiny circular motions for shading, but I don't recommend it--it's slow and inefficient.

The key is control. Control how soft or how hard your strokes are. Be concise and clean in your movements, and make good use of your shoulder, elbow, and wrist, depending on how long your strokes are.

Practice shading smooth gradations from light to dark values, using both stroke methods. Make the value transition as smooth as possible.
  09 September 2011
Thanks. I'll just try each pencil out with different strokes then. How does it work with color though?

For example if you want a really dark red. Do you just use red and black/grey to make it dark?
  09 September 2011
Generally speaking, yes, you mix colors. Some color pencils allow blending, such as the soft lead Prismacolor pencils--they almost blend like paint in a way--very creamy, and you have to stroke really hard and fill in all the tooth of the paper. It's a very different kind of look from typical color pencils. Some color pencils are water-soluble too, so you can wet a brush and "melt" the pencil strokes.
  09 September 2011
But doesn't the color of the black pencil stay on the red pencil if you keep drawing with a red pencil over black?
  09 September 2011
Are you asking about the soft lead Prismacolors, water-solubles, or normal color pencils?

Dry mediums don't actually mix the way wet mediums do--what you're doing is essentially layering or putting the grains from both colors "next" to each other so your eyes will mix them when looking.

The Prismacolors are very unique--you have to try them to understand how they "mix"--they really do mix, on the page, as you push one color into another it sort of "melts" into the other color.

The water-soluble mix just like any water-based medium.
  09 September 2011
I think you misinterpreted my question.

When you first draw a light black square on the paper and then go over it with a red pencil, won't the black color stay on the tip of the red pencil? Or is that something that's easy to clean with a tissue or something?

I really don't have any colored pencils so I can't try it out, and it has been a long time since I drew with colored pencils :P

By the way, are there any good online shops for art supplies like colored pencils that also ship internationally? The local store nearby (which is primarily a book store) doesn't have much art supplies available. Usually the only pencils are from Bruynzeel and I haven't really seen any Prismacolors. There's not much choice of paper as well. I always hear people talking of Bristol paper, but I guess that's not something that's available here (at least not that I know of).
  09 September 2011
Another consideration, when pencil shading, is to use your strokes to enhance the volume of your forms, to some extent. Follow the contour of the cross-sectional shape. There are other considerations (such as illumination effects, etc.), but start there. Your examples demonstrate that to a degree.

Online art store reviews (including international shipping):

I always used Blick--maybe because I lived near a large brick-n-mortar store.
–Used Utrecht when in the city.

Last edited by Quadart : 09 September 2011 at 03:12 PM.
  11 November 2011
Hey Kevin, thanks for creating this thread. I too, am trying to get better at drawing, which includes shading with pencils. I'll keep my eye on this thread and try to learn as much as I can.

I wanted to ask in this thread as well, does anyone have any suggestions regarding lines?Unfortunately, I am realizing my drawing and sketching looks to amateurish as I use several lines to create one line. Anything that can help resolving this issue?
  11 November 2011
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