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Shading Techniques: Hatching, Scribbling, Pointillism

June 29, 2009

I have already talked about smooth, blended shading, which is what most people are familiar with. Today I am going to touch on some other shading techniques that allow the artist some creativity when it comes to texture. These techniques create patterns and texture through mark-making. You can do realistic shading with pretty much any mark, as long as you pay close attention to the tonal value and adjust your mark-making accordingly.

For darker areas  you can use a softer pencil or a wider pen, make your marks darker and closer together. For the lighter areas, use a harder pencil or a thinner pen, press lightly and space your marks out. You can use these techniques with almost any medium: pencil, pen, charcoal, pastel, etc.

If you’re thinking, “but I want my drawings to look realistic,” don’t worry! It is absolutely possible to achieve photorealism with these techniques. Drawings done like this can be very interesting because from far away, they look like a picture, and as you get closer you begin to see the patterns. For an excellent example of this, have a look at Chuck Close. His large scale portraits are extremely realistic from a distance, but closer up they dissolve into a combination of coloured marks.

This type of shading can be useful in portraying an emotion or a personality along with a likeness. Different techniques can even be combined to create different textures. Scribbled shading on a sweater, for example, can show that it is soft and fuzzy in comparison to smoothly blended skin.

The best part about this is that its fun and challenging! If you’r comfortable with smooth blending, or just want a new challenge, give this a try. It’s a great way to practice your drawing and observation skills.





Hatching is a series of short parallel marks. The marks can be going diagonally, horizontally, or vertically, but they should all line up. You can also try cross-hatching, when the marks cross over eachother at perpendicular angles. This piece shows hatching done in charcoal.





This was done in ink by scribbling the pen back and forth. This piece happens to have all vertical marks, but you can also try a more messy approach to scribbling.



Circular Scribbles


This is the same type of scribbled shading, but this time the marks are all circular. Done in graphite, this could also be blended using circular strokes.





Pointillism is done with a series of dots. It is very time consuming can produce some great results!


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