How I shade a drawing with coloured pencils 

When I am drawing, the most important rule I follow is to add colours steadily, with as light a pressure as you can and with a super sharp pencil. 

The first thing that I do is to look at my reference image and decide where my darkest darks are going to be and where my lightest lights will be. I will then lightly shade the dark areas with the darkest colour necessary. This does not usually tend to be black but colours blended to create a true black. (see the guide below on how to blend a true black)

A quick guide on how to create a true black 

Think of your subject and decide if the black needs to be warm or cool. Warm black, will tend toward brown so use dark shades of brown as your darkest darks. Or it will be cool black and tend toward blue so use darkest blues as your darkest shades. Using just a black pencil to draw these various shades of black will never depict the rich colour needed to render your subject realistically. 

Once the dark areas are shaded in you can now start shading using the light-to-dark method.

My step by step method is:

  1. Plan out the darkest dark areas first and shade these areas lightly.
  2. Know where your lightest areas are and shade a layer of your lightest light colour, (which may be white) just to get some pigment down.
  3. Work in sections and work as normal using the light to dark and method leaving the lightest areas as light as possible. This will add depth to your drawing.
  4. When you have enough pigment down in a lot of layers, you can either start to blend using more pressure so as to blend the colours or use a solvent to blend seamlessly and easily.
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5. Add the finishing touches by darkening the darks and lightening the lights, adding highlights and texture using the relevant tools.

For example, white highlighter and Exacto knife.

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Working in stages and with a step by step plan has worked so well with me in the past and is something I do every time I start a new project. The reasons I do this are as follows:

  • It takes away the overwhelm no matter how large or small the project is
  • It helps me work in a methodical way
  • It works for me
  • I get the results I want
  • If I stop midway through the project I can pick up where I left off and know what stage I am up to
  • As it works I am not going to rock the boat and change it

I hope that this blog post was useful for you. If you would like to see more tips and tricks then come along to my Facebook group:

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