Making Your Values Really Stand Out

Why Shading is Important in your Sketches

Many people like sketching because of the realism that can be depicted from their drawings. However, when drawing on a two dimensional surface like paper, depicting that realism can be difficult. The solution to this problem is to create shadows and shade while you sketch. Light and shadows are the factors that add dimensions to your drawing. They define the objects visually giving the object  a sense of value and depth and a three dimensional appearance. By shading a drawn object a certain way, the viewer can see how something sticks out. These are the sketches that capture the imagination and bring life to their art.

When we look at everyday objects, a without touching them, we can visually see the objects as 3D because of the way light reflects off of them and shadows are created behind them. When we look at objects in this light, we are seeing them through the eyes of the artist. We give the objects value based on how light or dark certain areas appear. Look at where the light reflects on an item. Determine where that light is coming from, the placement of the light will affect how real your shadows appear-if a shadow is not where it should be, it will distort your drawing.

We all see the circle on the left as a flat object; the sphere on the right looks very three dimensional.

How to think about Shadows

Adding casted shadows is a great way to make your sketch appear three dimensional. A cast shadow is the dark area cast on an adjacent surface by a solid object. Study the figure shown above as an example. When looking for shadows, search for the light areas (called “light values”); these will be the brightest areas of your drawing and probably wont require any shading. Then find the dark values, on the object itself, which are the shadows. Finally find the cast shadows, because these will typically be the darkest in your sketch.

When you shade and add shadows to your drawings, you create a contrast between light and dark and you can accentuate the differences between objects. This will make your drawing much more realistic and give it a more interesting look.

Creating Value and Shadows

To create shadows, you can hatch or cross hatch with your drawing tool on the area you want shaded. Hatching, or making slanted lines to shade in the darker areas are great for objects that lack a lot of texture or hair on a person that all flows in one direction. Cross hatching is like hatching but instead of a bunch of slanted lines parallel to each other (///////), you will cross the first set of lines at another angle (or multiple angles– if you are trying to make it more shadowed) . This can shade in a darker area very quickly or add more texture to a drawn object.

In the image above, done in technical pen, single hatches are used for the flatter and lighter areas of the dog’s face. Single hatches also are good for suggesting light or a flat area of color, or suggesting the contour of a shape if they are done to match the natural contour (a technique that is well worth it but takes practice). Look at the dog’s ears for an example of using some lines to suggest contour, that suggests depth and dimension. Cross hatches are used closer to the more textured and darker, more defined areas of the dog’s facial browns, the ridges of the ears, and on the dog’s nose.

The Perfect Pencil for Sketching and Shading

The right tools can definitely influence the way you shade something in. We at Jerry’s recommend the Jerry’s Jumbo Jet Black Pencil. It’s perfect for quickly covering large areas while giving you the precision to make strong defined lines. Charcoal pencils are great for shading and adding dimension to your sketches and this one is no exception– just made darker and richer with the addition of oil to the charcoal, creating a smudge-resistant drawing tool. Teh impregnation of the oil allows the charcoal to glide right off from the pencil to paper, and is sensitive enough to shade both lighter and darker areas. The right kind of pencil or pen for your needs is very important, as it gives your work the right amount of definition it will need.  Jumbo Jet Black Pencils excel at it!





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