TUTORIAL - Traditional Pencil Shading Technique - by Icey (NUDITY)


EKOes - You can use whatever lead you want (even though i think 4H or 6H is a little radical). I usually use a HB or B, even 2B… The important thing - and i can tell you this from my own experience - don’t change the type of lead you’re using, or you’ll mess up your work. About the shadow - in nature you’ll find only vanishing shadows, but be very careful for the core-shadow that forms where the light hits (or passes) tangent to your shape. I don’t know if you can get your hands on a Scott Robertson Gnomon DVD, but they are wonderful in explaining these kind of things! Hope i’ve helped…


A new tutorial with a new creepy subject. The basic idea is to complicate the subject and see what new problems appear on the way. This is made using as reference a picture I took in Paris, at the Musee de l’homme.

because the drawing is much more complicated, we have to take extra care for proportions. I start with very light lines, finding the edge and figuring proportions using the near elements. Some prefer to build geometrically their forms, but I find it much harder
but if that helps do it! You can start from one point to the other, or you can walk with the whole body at once. Some (including myself) prefer to render something on the early drawing, especially when this is a complicated one, just to get a sense of direction to where your final drawing is going, others just render everything step by step. Do as it best serves you! No one has the right to tell you what’s best for you!

Try not to rush for an eraser (unless you have no choice), but double the lines. Trust your brain. He will choose the right contour on itself, so just go on with the flow. If the model has funny proportions, do them right or exaggerate them because otherwise they will seem like mistakes in your final drawing, and we don’t want that.

Remember : you have to paint an idea! Don’t blindly follow what’s in front of you!!! Otherwise the whole thing is useless.


At this step you are only guessing a level of 3Dimensionality that you had in mind the whole time. Choose your lights carefully and remember : “When light doesn’t enter, there is darkness.” – Harvey Dunn. Keep in mind all the useful things you’ve heard. I don’t have that big of a brain so I just save my favorite quotes and review them every time I need an advice.

“The human mind looks for recognizable forms to create order in the visual universe” (Michael Mentler – The Bone Doctor) Applying this in my case : I don’t need to draw things like the picture offers them to me. I need to understand the idea of bones, the idea of a skull or a ribcage and paint that. If you understand the thing you’re drawing you suddenly are free to create your own universe! That is outstanding!


For the next step you’ll be reshaping the perspective and the minor mistakes that you have in your drawing. At this point you should think about you are planning to emphasize on your subject. ALWAYS look for what’s best in your work and take that out as much as you can, leaving the rest in the lowest detail possible.

“Note that I said eye… the next time you are talking to someone notice that you only focus on one eye at a time… The biggest mistake by far that the artist makes when doing portraits is drawing both eyes will the same amount of detail. Always choose one eye as the focal point. Obviously this is the closest one to you in most cases and in a straight on view it is the left eye because we read the page from the lower left to the upper right.”

        This is what Mr. Mentler told me once. I’m applying this in my case by focusing on the first skull (witch is better!) and leave the rest fade out, only suggesting it.    

[size=3][color=white]The scanner hides a 1000 light lines that exist in the drawing. I’ll just leave them there and cover them with the hatching. They will later on give a nice vibration over my drawing.

The drawing is going the right way, but I don’t like how the lower half/body distorts the perspective. The one thing I can do right now trying to focus the attention on the upper skull and hope that the lower one will skip attention. But I really do need convincing power in my future steps.

        “Horizontals and verticals tend to emphasize the eternal and the very static.” Iain McCaig said this if my notes are right. So what I’m doing is trying to vary my hatching so that it gives motion even to a static subject.



I’m almost done. But I think I’ve over rendered some areas in the wrong direction so now I have to cool them down a little (take a few steps back). A kneaded eraser is very good in these situations. Also this is where you can focus on the last minute details just to increase the excitement and spice up your character.

[color=white]Just don’t rush things like I did here and don’t be discouraged if this isn’t the highlight of your life. Every study is a step forward and your achievement is in what you’ve learned, not in what you have by the end of the day. [/color]


Gorgeous stuff Icey! :slight_smile:



Thanks for sharing your process steps


Say you were paying attention.
Very powerful…


Awesome!!! i’ve never touch my pencil since i recognized corel :slight_smile: i think ill start it over again … thanx for inspiring :thumbsup:


a quick question: Do professional artists use anything to blend/rub their drawing, when they use graphite/charcoal/conté? In general, is it a good thing to do, or should it be avoided?



Also my first post to the forum, though i've been reading for a while. Started drawing two months ago and i think this tutorial helped me a lot. The stuff i did before lacked any contrast.
Thanks a lot!
Still made many mistakes here, e.g. first using a HB and then a 4B for the dark areas, also my wet hands smudged the paper terribly.


Happy New Year!

Rebecca - :slight_smile: thank you! But i do think that someone better at this should have this plug instead of me.

NR43 - Thank you! Really appreciate it! Have a great year!

Mr Mentler – I try to. I would be a shame for all the knowledge people gathered all this time to get wasted without even pinching the surface. A lot to learn not only by drawing but by listening. Thank you for opening the doors.

Mantankyai - :slight_smile: Glad I did. Do start drawing traditionally because learning in digital medium is hard! I wouldn’t advise that to anybody. Traditional pencil is not overrated!

Elijah – As a beginner you shouldn’t rub the paper unless you are using coal/charcoal. I use to rub the paper like hell when I knew nothing about drawing, but that turned out to be a mess, so if you don’t control everything from form to lighting very well, I would advice not to try any blending that you can’t get with pencils. William Whitaker has a tutorial where he uses charcoal on one of his perfect paintings!

Nothing should stop you trying! Try everything, every new thing that crosses your mind. You can never do wrong in that.



FloJ – Hello and welcome! I’m honored that this is your firs post. I can’t open the link, but it doesn’t look bad at all! Certainly for 2 months of drawing this shows enormous potential! :wink: Glad you’ve stepped by!

Wish you the best for 2008!! Thank you for your replies.



what an amazing resource! Thank you Icey, these tutorials are very inspiring, loaded with insightful quotes, and the artwork is just beautiful!
I love looking at artwork that just makes me want to draw.


its my first visit here to your thread and i like your pencil work … i like how you treat the shading and lights … great work keep it up :thumbsup:


great tutorials! Only thing i do disagree is the fact you change things that look dull (in your first tut the jaws of the “emoes”) you should hold them so you can keep it as realistic as possible.

Love your drawingstyle though! (also worth trying to draw with inkt, that way you need to look better before you draw because you don’t have an erraser)

Can also be done without using ctrl + z on your wacom


Foarte tare frate!

Awesome dude!


Thank you! Looks great!


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