Using Shading to Describe Form
Pure line drawings can often look very beautiful, and it is amazing how much information a well-drawn line can communicate. Take a look at Picasso's etchings to see just how eloquent an unadorned line can be. Adding shading to a drawing helps give it a solid, three-dimensional feel, and allows you to describe surface detail much more clearly. Shading can also add expression to a drawing.
Shading with the point of the pencil gives a smooth, fine grain and allows good control over detail. Avoid erasing to keep the drawing looking clean and fresh. Use a kneaded eraser or Blu-Tack to lift excess pencil but remember that stray lines can add energy and interest.
Shading with the point of a pencil gives a smooth line and makes the direction of the pencil stroke clear.
Shading with one side of a pencil creates a grainy effect.
Pencil hatching is a versatile technique.
Using different grades of pencil gives you better control over the strength of shading.
Shading with one side of a pencil also allows more of the paper texture to show, with the pencil skimming over the tiny pits in the paper, leaving specks of white.
Hatching and crosshatching can also be used in pencil drawing to describe form. Hatching is creating parallel lines, evenly spaced, to create the impression of tone. Crosshatching uses two sets of hatched lines, often at right angles, though a more acute angle can create a pleasing effect. Find out more about hatching in the pen-and-ink section of this book.
Some artists also like to use a chisel-point pencil for shading, which is a pencil sharpened with a knife to produce a tip that is broad on one side and narrow on the other. This can be useful, as it gives a versatile line—broad or narrow according to how you turn the pencil—which is ideal for quick sketching.
Try adding some shading to a contour drawing. Leave the brightest areas white, add a single layer of pencil strokes to the middle values, then add more layers to darken the shadows. Pencil strokes that follow the contours help to describe the form.
A contour drawing with added shading, drawn by Wid Bradley