Mastering Shading in Colored Pencil: Essential Tips for Achieving Subtle Values

If you've found yourself entranced by the vivid, lifelike imagery that can be created with colored pencils, you're not alone. This medium, with its capacity for deep, rich hues and meticulous detail, is a favorite among artists of all skill levels.

Related class: Creating in Colored Pencil

One key aspect that sets the pros apart from beginners is the adept use of shading. Shading in colored pencil can give your art an impressive depth and realism. It can also bring out subtle values that can transform a flat, two-dimensional sketch into a dynamic, three-dimensional masterpiece.

This article will explore shading techniques in colored pencil and share valuable tips for achieving subtle values in your artwork.

Understanding Shading and Values

Before diving into techniques, it's crucial to understand what shading and values are in the art world. Shading refers to the technique of changing color intensity to depict light and shadow, thus giving depth and volume to your drawings. Values, on the other hand, refer to the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Achieving subtle values through shading is all about demonstrating these nuanced changes in lightness and darkness in your artwork.

Shading Techniques for Colored Pencil

There are numerous shading techniques for colored pencils that artists can use to create subtle values. Here are some popular ones:

  • Layering: Layering is a technique where you build up the color by gradually adding layers of colored pencil. You start with light pressure and slowly increase it as you add more layers. This allows you to create a wide range of values, from the lightest to the darkest tones.
  • Burnishing: This technique involves applying heavy pressure with a colored pencil or a colorless blender to create a shiny, smooth surface. Burnishing compresses the paper's tooth and fills in the white spaces, resulting in a darker, more intense color.
  • Gradients: A gradient is a gradual transition from one color to another or from a darker shade to a lighter one. Gradients are great for creating an illusion of depth and volume in your drawings.

Tips for Achieving Subtle Values in Colored Pencil

Getting subtle values with colored pencils is a practice of precision and patience. Here are some top tips to help you:

  • Use a Light Touch: Start with a light touch and gradually build up the layers. Pressing too hard too soon can damage the tooth of the paper and limit your ability to add layers.
  • Utilize a Range of Tones: Make sure to have a range of tones for each color - light, medium, and dark. Using these in combination will add depth and volume to your drawings.
  • Consider the Light Source: Always keep in mind the direction of your light source. This will guide you on where to place the shadows and highlights, resulting in a more realistic piece.
  • Practice Gradients: Mastery of gradients is key for achieving subtle values. Practice making smooth transitions between different shades of the same color or between two different colors.
  • Be Patient: Colored pencil art takes time, especially if you're trying to achieve subtle values. Be patient and enjoy the process.

In conclusion, mastering shading in colored pencils opens up a whole new world of depth, texture, and realism in your art. While achieving subtle values can be challenging, the results are well worth the effort. It's all about understanding the basics, practicing the techniques, and using the right approach. Happy shading!

Related Class: Creating in Colored Pencil

Sharpen your skills and rediscover the fun of creating in colored pencil. Learn more.