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Tutorials and artistic advices

Drawing: shading and light

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Transcribing visual subtleties with a minimum of material is what makes drawing so challenging. Follow the guide!


1. Enhancing gray values


Enhancing your grays means defining the different tones in your drawing, that is, the different gray tones it includes.


  • You can use graphite pencils with various degrees of hardness. For example:

- a very hard 9H pencil, for a very light gray

- a medium hard 2B pencil, for an intermediate gray

- a very soft 9B pencil, for a dark gray


Dessin - tonalités - nuances de gris - crayons graphite - dureté

  • You can also draw a wide range of tones with a single pencil (2B, for example). How it works: press down more or less hard to vary the intensity of your stroke. A very attractive solution, both financially and artistically!

Practical advice: create a scale of values

  • Dessin - échelle de valeurs - nuances de grisStart by forming a square by making a few light strokes with your pencil. Form a new square, intensifying the strokes. Keep on going, making each new square darker than the preceding one. Result: you can obtain a palette of different tones, from the white of the paper to the square with the most intensive gray.


Dessin - ombres et lumières - hachures - contre-hachures

2. Shading and light

  •  To create shaded areas: hatch the area to be shaded. This is one of the most often used methods for creating shading. Simply juxtapose pencil strokes.
  •  Simple parallel hatching: the strokes are parallel to each other. The closer they are, the darker the hatched area. Conversely, the farther apart they are, the lighter the hatched area.
  •  Cross-hatching: to intensify a hatched area, you can draw a new hatching series, this time perpendicular to the previous ones.
  •  Freehand hatching: as its name indicates, it is drawn freehand. The lines crisscross and intersect.
  •  Creating areas of light: remove excess drawing material with an eraser to lighten your gray.

Tip: To work with small size areas, you can shape a kneaded eraser or trim a classical eraser with a utility knife. Erase, then smooth by stumping with your finger or using a stump.





Suggested products

Canson® Crob'Art®

See also

Learning to situate your drawing in space
 Apprendre à placer son dessin dans l’espace
Drawing is real mental gymnastics. Even more than learning to draw, you first need to learn how to observe.
The 6 essential steps in drawing
You can learn how to draw! Not much equipment, a few technical concepts and lots of practice will allow you not only to master this discipline, but to gain real expertise as well. It is the basis for all the other artistic techniques.