Here you'll learn about the four main Pencil Shading Techniques that artists use to create the shadows in their artwork.

There are four main pencil shading techniques used by artists to create the shadows in a drawing without the use of a blending utensil:

  • hatching/cross hatching
  • contour shading
  • scumbling/circulism
  • stippling

Although there are many artists that use only blending utensils, many others use one or more of these four techniques to create the shading on a drawing.

You can, if you wish, blend-out your marks after applying them. But I would try these methods without using blending utensils to get an idea as to how they will look in your drawing.

Pen and ink artists use these shading techniques exclusively due to the fact that ink really can't be blended out.


Hatching/Cross Hatching

Hatching is basically drawing lines side-by-side. Cross hatching is the drawing of lines side-by-side on top of, and perpendicular to, the hatching marks that are already drawn on the paper thus creating a "checkerboard" design.

To create the darkest shadows the lines are draw close together. The lighter areas are drawn with the lines farther apart. You can also vary the pressure you use to get different results. Additionally, a softer lead will produce darker results. A sharp pencil is best when you want the shadows to be more subtle.

Contour Shading

Contour Shading

is closely related to hatching except that you curve the lines to follow the contour, or shape of the image you are shading. Usually the technique is used when shading a round, or spherical shape, such as an orange.



is the putting down of marks in a circular manner, kind of like if you were drawing curly hair. Scumbling is different in that the marks are more random, like scribbling. I tend to favor a figure-eight design most of the time.

Like with the shading techniques described above, the closer together the marks are, the darker the shadows will appear. And again, the softer the pencil-lead, the darker the shadows.


Stippling is the act of putting down dots...Lots of them. Sometimes this technique is called pointillism, particularly when talking about drawing or painting in color.

This method can be somewhat more time consuming that the other pencil shading techniques. But the results can be very satisfying.

Placing the dots more densely together will create darker shadows. This method also can work well with a blunter pencil-point if so desired.


Home> How to Shade page> shading techniques page

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