4 shading techniques for ink and pencil blog cover
Art Tip

Shading Techniques for Ink & Pencil

We’re headed into October soon and there are a bunch of drawing challenges going on.  I thought it would be a good time to reshare last year’s blog with some shading techniques for anyone who is new to drawing or would like a quick refresher.  I also have a free template towards the bottom that you can download to practice.  Are you participating in Inktober or any of the other drawing challenges coming up?

This month there’s a flood of people making drawings in ink for Inktober and other drawing challenges!  Feedback that I’ve heard from artist friends or those that consider themselves not-yet-artists is that they struggle with shading, so I thought I would take a minute to share some tips!

Shading is one skill that is increasingly important when working in a black and white (or any other single tone) medium.  Adding shading to a drawing brings it to life and gives dimension to an otherwise flat drawing.  

Like any other skill, shading is something that CAN be learned and practiced.  Below I share four shading techniques for ink and pencil to get you started.  

1 | Hatching

Hatching is a technique that uses a series of parallel straight lines to add dimension.  The closer the lines are together, the darker that portion of the drawing appears.  

In the example below, the values to the left would be reserved for the highlights and lighter tones, while the values to the right would be for the shadows of the drawing.  

hatching example in rectangle and circle

2 | Cross-Hatching

Cross-Hatching is similar to Hatching, but involves using perpendicular lines that cross (think X’s, tic-tac-toe boards, hashtags).  Like the technique above, the closer the lines are together, the darker the value will appear.  This is typically the technique that I use to shade in my ink drawings so I’ve included a real-life example below. 

It’s important to keep in mind where your light source is coming from in your drawing.  Areas that are directly in the light will appear closer to white, while areas in the shadows will require marks that are closer together to appear darker. 

cross-hatching example in rectangle and circle

Here’s an example of what cross-hatching looks like in a drawing.  

Sketchbook view with pens of Cozy Afternoon by Laura Jaen Smith. Black and white ink drawing of comfy clothes and holding cup of tea/coffee

3 | Stippling

Stippling is another technique that many people use to shade drawings.  It involves using a series of dots to bring the image alive.  Like the above two techniques, the closer the dots are together, the darker the value will appear.  This may be the most time-consuming of the four techniques I’m sharing today, but it looks really cool in a finished drawing. 

I find it useful for any of the techniques to start with a base amount of marks throughout and then gradually darken the appropriate areas of the drawing to add dimension.  Other people prefer to start in one area and then move to another after they finish a section.  Whichever method you use, it’s important to look back at your drawing as a whole to make sure that your deepest shadows are consistently the darkest area and other values read consistently throughout the drawing.

stippling example in rectangle and circle

4 | Free-Form/Scribbles

Free-Form/Scribbles is a technique that is pretty much how it sounds.  You can use scribbles, repeating patterns, stamps – pretty much anything you can imagine to shade your drawing.  Like the above three methods, the closer the marks are together, the darker they will appear. 

An important tip for all the techniques is to start light and work up to dark.  With ink especially, there is no erasing once you lay down the mark.  You can always make an area darker by adding more layers of marks.

free-form/ scribbles example in rectangle and circle

Which shading technique do you use most?

Do you have a favorite?  

I’ve included a free template I created with the techniques if you’d like to practice!  Click the image to get it.  Tag @LauraJaenArt on social media to show me how you did and get feedback!

Come over to Instagram or Facebook to say hi and check out this year’s Inktober posts!

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