Shading might be one of the most primary factors when it comes to photo-realistic drawing. If the proportions are accurate, the soft value changes will produce a drawing that appears to be three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface.
Proper shading gives a drawing depth and texture and can be difficult at first. Are you finding it challenging to draw soft value changes with graphite pencils?
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The elements of shading:
- Full light
- Core Shadow
- Reflected light
- Cast shadow
For more information on shading elements, visit Drawing Tips For Realistic Drawings – The Elements Of Shading.
Three Different Pencil Points For Shading
There are three different shading points artists use for drawing, and each will produce a distinct mark on the drawing surface. The pencil points are the sharp point, rounded (dull) point, and the chisel point.
Knowing what pencil tip to use for different shading techniques will allow you to draw what you see.
For example, the drawing below uses all three pencil tips.
The rounded and sharp points were used for her eyes and the sharp points for her eyelashes.
Sharp Point Pencil
The sharp point is a pointed tip that occurs after sharpening the pencil. You will use a sharp end for most of the drawing process.
The sharp tip allows the graphite to get between the “tooth” of the paper, so you will not see any small white dots in the line drawn.
You can use a sandpaper block to keep a point on the tip when the pencil becomes dull.
To create a sharp point, stroke your pencil tip lightly at an angle on your sandpaper block while rotating the pencil.
The sharper the tip is, the easier it will be to get graphite in the paper’s valleys.
The bumps or texture of the paper is called the “tooth” of the paper.
The “tooth” of the paper adheres the graphite to the drawing surface.
With realism drawing, you will want to get the graphite into the paper’s valleys, or there will be little white spots on the areas you have drawn.
To condition the paper, use hard pencils (4H pencil or a 2H pencil) with a fine point. Make sure each line connects with the previous line. You do not want any gaps. If you see a gap, fill it in before continuing.
Do not press harder on the drawing surface. If you push too hard on the drawing surface, you will damage the “tooth” of the paper, which will make it difficult to add more value to the subject matter.
Rounded (Dull) Point
The round point is when the pencil has been worn down.
The rounded point will be helpful for shading larger sections.
With the rounded point, the graphite will not reach down in the paper’s ” tooth “.
Remember that if you are drawing realism, most subjects have no tiny little white spots.
You must condition the drawing surface before adding value with a round point.
To create a rounded point, rub the pencil’s tip on your sandpaper block while rotating the pencil.
The round tip will cover more areas of the paper with graphite creating a thicker line.
Because the tip is not sharp, it will not reach all of the paper’s valleys, creating a lighter value.
Chisel Point Pencil
A chisel point has a flat surface on one side.
The chisel edge pencil has a sharp edge and a flat surface.
The chisel point will allow you to add value to a larger area, and with the sharp tip, you can fill in any white spots.
To create a chisel point, you will need to sharpen your pencil with a pencil sharpener.
Stroke the pencil on your sandpaper block, holding the pencil at an angle until you have a flat surface on one side.
The flat surface of the chisel point will cover the most area out of the three pencil points.
Because the tip is flat, it will glide over the “tooth” of the paper, leaving graphite only on the highest parts of the “tooth” This tip will leave more white spots on the paper.
If you condition the paper with hard leads first, you will be able to darken areas without seeing any white spots.
Learning to use the different pencil points for shading will make your drawing more pleasurable.
You can use your creative mind instead of figuring out what technique will work best in specific situations.
Tip – When you sharpen your pencil, graphite dust will be on the lead’s tip. Wipe off the soil before you start drawing. If you do not remove the graphite dust, you will have inconsistent values on your drawing surface.
Practice With The Three Different Pencil Points
By practicing these various tips, you will learn what tip will be best for drawing different textures.
- Use the same sheet of paper for each pencil tip.
- Use light pressure when drawing your lines.
- Use straight lines with a back and forth motion.
- Do not leave space between your lines.
- Use different pencil grades. Soft pencils will produce a distinct mark than an HB pencil or hard grades.
- For light lines and lighter values, use the side of the pencil and a harder lead.
- For dark values, use a B grade pencil. The higher the number on a B pencil, the darker the line will be. For example, a 6B pencil will create a darker line than a 2B pencil.
- For fine lines, try working with a mechanical pencil.
- Smooth paper or a smooth surface will not allow you to add multiple layers of graphite because there is no texture to the paper. To produce a darker shade, you will need to use a paper that has more texture, like Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Velum.
How To Practice Drawing
- Draw three two-inch squares on one piece of drawing paper
- Shade in the three blocks using a different tip for each block
- Write what tip you used for the block underneath it
- Use the same pressure for each block
- Repeat this exercise with each grade of pencil that you have
Observe the results
Each tip will provide a different texture and line.
- What point creates a darker value?
- What tip leaves fewer white spots?
- What tip leaves more white spots?
- What textures would work best for each tip?
- What are the different values each tip produces?
- How do harder grades differ from soft grades?
How To Sharpen A Pencil For Drawing
There are a couple of different ways fine artists sharpen their pencils.
One way is with an X-Acto knife and sandpaper. Disclaimer – Anyone under 18 should not sharpen a pencil with an X-Acto knife without an adult’s supervision.
The other way I sharpen my pencil is with an electric pencil sharpener.
What Are The Four Types Of Shading
There are four main types of shading: hatching, stippling, crosshatching, and drybrushing.
Hatching is a technique in which parallel lines are drawn close together to create a shade.
Stippling is a similar technique, but dots are used instead of lines to create a gradient effect.
Crosshatching is a more advanced technique that involves drawing intersecting lines to create different levels of darkness.
Drybrushing is a shading technique that uses a brush with very little paint to create a light coating of color. Each of these shading techniques has its unique benefits and can be used to create different effects in your artwork.
Final Thoughts On Pencil Points For Shading
Creating a realistic pencil drawing starts with the tools you use and how you utilize the tools.
Practicing different techniques with different tips will have you creating beautiful fine art in no time at all.
An excellent way to become familiar with pencil shading is to practice shading cubes, cylinders, and spheres with each tip and different grades of pencil.
Drawing Tools You Will Find in My Studio
Below is a list of all the materials I use for my drawings. I purchase all of my drawing supplies online at Blick Art Materials.
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Smooth
- Strathmore 300 Series Bristol Board Pads 9″ x 12″ Velum
- General’s Factis Magic Black Eraser
- Tombow Mono Zero Refillable Eraser
- Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber Erasers
- Alvin Dry Cleaning Pad
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