Five ways to add shading to your drawings

Shading is a great way to add some dimension and value to your drawings. Shading and Shadow are different terms and can be confused with each other. Shading is darkening the object opposite the light source like here.

A sphere with shading and a cast shadow at the base
A sphere with shading and cast shadow added.

The shadow on the other hand goes along the ground as a “cast shadow”.

Here are the five ways that professional artists shade their drawings

  1. Stippling- Dots are used to add shading to a drawing. The most time consuming but offers the most realistic results
  2. Hatching and crosshatching- As the name implies. Lines are drawn in on angles on the surface intersecting with each other.
  3. Blending- Pencil marks are smoothed with a finger or a blending stomp
  4. Rendering- A tone is applied to a white surface and the image is drawn in using an eraser
  5. Random lines- Lines drawn in various directions at various lengths.



All you’re doing is adding a dark value to the side of a shape opposite the light source.




In the examples below the light source is coming from the top left.


Blending is the easiest way to add shading and stippling is the most time-consuming but the technique renders a more realistic look.  The smaller the dots used the more realistic the drawing.

1. Hatching 2. Crosshatching 3. Blending 4. Rendering 5. Random lines 6. Stippling



The shading follows the contour of the figure.




Remember shading is adding dark values to the shape itself opposite the light source (L. S.) Shadow is applying a dark value on the ground next to the object.


Shading exercise

Draw some inorganic shapes and gradually shade the outer edges and watch them magically lift off the surface of the paper. Shading is how depth is created.

Believe me, shading and adding value are important concepts to understand in all drawings. Shading is what gives depth and that 3D look to all drawings. We will revisit these concepts in other lessons.




Did this lesson help? Let me know in the comments below.

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