Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Discuss art techniques and styles here. If you need tips or have any questions about artistic style or want to show people some new skills, this is the place.
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Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Post by tommy » Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:21 pm

Let's take things literally for a change... this place is called The Creative PENCIL, right?  ;)
Serge asked me to do a little shading tutorial, and while I still feel very humble about my skills, I thought it wouldn't harm to share and discuss some of my techniques.
Just remember: this isn't THE way to do it, it may not even the best way to do it. It's just one of many possible methods.

So I made a series of 6 pics, representing all the steps from first draft to "completed" pic (note that I don't consider the finished pencil sketch the final stage: the inking and color job has yet to start!)
Click on the thumbs for larger images.

Yep, it's Alex! A rather underexposed character in Simpsons art... I don't know why she isn't as popular as Jessica or even Greta?
Ok, let's make this little blonde chick as cute as we can... starting with a raw sketch, done with a hard pencil.
The advantage of a hard pencil is that it keeps your lines very thin and light, which is good, because this sketch is only the foundation for the pic. These lines will be covered by the next layers of pencil lines, so don't make them so thick or heavy that they keep shining through.
Note that I tried a 3d effect already, indicating the shape of Alex's breasts with the texture of her sweater. It's important to get the curves of those texture lines right, because if you draw them too straight, her chest will look flat (and we don't want that, don't we?  ;))

Take another, softer pencil and trace the outlines. It's really "inking with pencil" and it provides the pic's basic form, strong lines contrasting with the soft shading inside. The choice of pencil is important here: don't use a very soft pencil, it will make the outlines look too thick and smudged (unless that's the purpose of course).
Erase the superfluous lines of step 1, if necessary.

Continue with the medium pencil and give all the textures in the pic their basic "color". This is best done by holding the pencil almost horizontally and use soft strokes with very little pressure. Darker spots (the baret and sweater) can be done by repeated strokes in different directions.
While Alex's skin is a light grey color, her hair, shirt and eyes remain white. This is only the ground layer, so don't apply any shading yet!

Now we have to decide how to shade the pic. Let's say there's a light source somewhere at the right, outside the pic. That means Alex's left side is the dark side.
Take the softest pencil you can find and apply shading at the shadow spots. Just imagine Alex's body as a collection of 3D objects: every part has its own light and dark sides and get shaded accordingly. Notice that the body parts that are exposed to the light don't get any shading: not only the right side of the face, arms and baret, but also the chest, where the breasts catch more light than the belly. The hair is not shaded yet.
The advantage of a soft pencil is that you can "finger paint". In order to get a very smooth effect, without visible pencil strokes, spread out the color with the top of your finger.
The shading looks a bit overdone at places now, but that's easily corrected in the next - and most important step.

It's time to use a tool now that's as important as the pencil: the eraser!
You can use several kinds of erasers here: Soft, round ones to highlight the soft parts of the face and baret, spots that catch the most light - and harder erasers with sharp corners to lighten up the embroidened parts of the sweater, which gives the texture a nice 3D effect. I also highlighted the breasts some more with the soft eraser.
Some details that are worth mentioning:
- the eyes look good if you shade them as "balls": left side dark, right side light.
- a small spot of light on the tip of the nose gives a cute effect.
- shadow of the overbite on the reclining part of the lips.
- the sleeves cast an extra shadow on the arms.

I saved the hair for last, because I didn't want to shade it in the same way as the rest of the body. Instead, I used the hard pencil and the hard eraser to create the hair effect.
The eyes are shaded as well - and I used the hard eraser to re-whiten the non-shaded parts of the eyes (which got a bit "dirty" in the process of finger-painting...)
Finishing touch: darkening some outlines that got smudged and cleaning up the "outskirts" of the pic with the erasers.

And voila - we're done.  :)
At least, till the color job. But that's another story.
Last edited by tommy on Sat Oct 15, 2005 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Post by D.B. » Fri Oct 14, 2005 9:40 pm

That's very informative - doubly so as I've only recently started having a go at pencil shading myself. Rest assured I'll be studying it in more detail later. Good job Tommy. :)
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Re: Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Post by Dagdamor » Sat Oct 15, 2005 7:54 am

Wow, thanks a bunch! ^.^
Iirc, I never tried pencil shading before. Hope this tutorial helps. :) Looks very useful.
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Re: Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Post by Casper » Sat Oct 15, 2005 11:49 am

This is a very good subject. I use the same 'finger painting' on some of mine, but I've allways used a HB or 2B.

I like the idea of using the ruber to create effects, I grew up learning art in school and a years art collage, I never knew that.
Anyway... I could go on for hours. I'm going to study this tutorial very closely, and have another go at proper shading.
(By the way, the last picture I cannot view. Damn slow modem, I'll just presume its very good!)

Easy to follow tutorial, very helpful. Well done!
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Re: Pencil shading tutorial by Tommy

Post by SpringfieldHorror » Tue May 02, 2006 4:59 pm

Complex. But, I follow.  :)
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