How to Make Shading Look Realistic

Drawings have a long and enriched history that dates back to prehistoric times. However drawings with the help of lead pencils on paper were introduced after the 14th century.

Making drawing in such a manner that it depicts a portrait close to reality is an art, which is mastered after consistent practice of the techniques involved in drawing.

Shading is one of the techniques that are used to make your drawing look realistic. It is one of the most difficult techniques used in drawing, and one needs to practice it regularly with precision in order to master the art.

However, one can learn this technique swiftly if they follow some simple guidelines while working on the canvas.

Things Required:

– Graphite, charcoal and carbon pencils
– Facial tissue
– Chamois
– Kneaded eraser
– Canvas
– Drawing Paper


  • 1

    Outline your original drawing that could be easily removed with an eraser. Focusing on your subject will make it break it down into dark and light shades, which will eventually help you while shading. Focus on your object and its shadows. Once you have determined the shadows of your object in your mind, start refining your sketch. Focus on the external shadows and highlights. Remember that the highlights are never making perfect circles while the shadows lines are never perfectly straight. Once you get to determine all the minute details in your mind, move to the next step. Otherwise, continue observing and focusing your object.

  • 2

    With the help of a pencil, outline the interior contours while following the object’s original shape.

  • 3

    Select a pencil for shadowing your image. Pencils that are made from charcoal are recommended for shadowing denim, wood, eyelashes, eyebrows, hair, fur, pupil, leather and all the other dark objects. Pencils that are made up of graphite are recommended for shadowing skin tones, silk, glass, porcelain and any other light objects.

  • 4

    Use your pencil just like the blending technique in order to create different effects and textures. However, make sure that you hold the pencil very gently while shading, as it will give you better control and results. Use facial tissues to soften those pencil strokes that are hardened and for blurring edges of the shadows. Once you have achieved the desired result, move on to the other area where you want to create a shading effect.

  • 5

    After completing the shading, finish your work by blending your lines and colouring if you need.

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