Tips for Shading

drawing - pic that got torn up

Now I’m not going to pretend that I’m the best shader in the world but I have come a long way since this picture (I was 17 when I drew this 24 now) and I want to pass down the few things I have learnt to get the best out of my shadingSo first things first, whats wrong with the pic above? When I drew it I was so proud of it but now I can see a few problems. Firstly I went overboard with the shading. Its much to dark I have since learnt less is more when it comes to shading, this picture was based off a girl with blonde hair and instead of giving her a smooth skin texture I have given her a mucky demeanour. Secondly scratchy lines, the picture is covered with them, where I pressed too hard and scratched the paper and now the line won’t blend and 3rd thirdly, lumpy blending. So since then I have developed these rules for myself.

  1. Smooth Paper. It’s just common sense this one if your going to be doing a lot of blending the last thing you want is friction working against you is it? So I go to hobby craft and look like I have a paper fetish just picking up pads and rubbing them to see how smooth it is but if you want good shading you need good paper (plus its HILARIOUS to freak people out in shops)
  2. Good pencils. Now it isn’t the bee all and end all  for good shading but its true that crap pencils are difficult to blend especially coloured pencils but the ones I have at the minute are especially good for blending. I have polychromo pencils and I will probably stick with these forever (when I’m an 80 year old illustrator in a illustrators retirement home lol)
  3. NEVER USE YOUR FINGERS. I really mean this. using your fingers to blend is just asking for trouble. Your fingers are oily and that is exactly how you end up with lumpy blending and finger prints all over your page all the rubbing out in the world isn’t going to get rid of an oily pencil finger print on your page.
  4. Always shade with your pencil on its side. An obvious one doesn’t need explaining.
  5. Tissue paper. This is perhaps my most important tool. I always use toilet roll in circular motions to blend and nothing else. To me it can’t be beaten for a smooth blended look (and no messy finger prints!) Good toilet roll is best (sounds like an odd reason to buy luxury toilet roll but the nasty scratchy stuff really isn’t as good) its soft on your tush and its soft on your blending.
  6. Less is more. You can always add but you can’t take away. I work in layers little bit down, blend, little bit more, blend again and so on. its much better than what I used to do (put too much down have to over compensate in other areas by making them darker and ending up with a face that looks its striking against bathing)

That’s it I think. My 6 tips for shading! I hope I can be helpful to people about shading, most of its common sense but these are the best that work for me and have helped me from the picture above to now.


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