I’ve been told that until my accuracy in drawing improves, I really don’t need to worry about learning to shade. While I see some logic in that, I also think without knowing a little about shading techniques, I won’t be able to improve my accuracy. In my mind, it’s a bit of a “catch-22”.
As a beginning artist six years ago, learning to draw involved a bit of shading — enough to understand how simple shapes can be made to appear as three-dimension forms by use of proper shading. So, yes, I know the basics, and I try to employ shading here and there. I’m not good at it. That means I need to practice — a lot.
To make my practice time more efficient, I recently ordered a book by Paul Green: Pencil Shading Practise Book. I have it now, I’ve tried it, and I have to admit, I don’t like it. I knew from the start what I was getting — a variety of futuristic greyscale drawings. I knew, too, that the book was not a “step-by-step” how-to-shade book. I looked past both of those facts, used a few Amazon points I had on my account, and bought a copy.
Indeed, the drawings are quite futuristic, so much so that I find it really hard to get interested in adding shading. I found, too, that despite the “greyscale” provided for each illustration, I find it impossible to distinguish the various grades. Take a look for yourself:
Seriously, folks, I know my eyes are old, but do you really see differences between HB through 9B? Any differences I see are so slight as to be meaningless. You can also see part of the “futuristic” drawing for this page. While, yes, I can differentiate between a few shades of gray there — and a lot of black — could you truly follow along on the greyscale provided to mark any of the “B” shading areas?
I did my best, played with a few different pencils, and came up with this:
You’ll notice right away that I didn’t complete this. I simply had no interest in what I was doing. You’ll notice, too, a number of “problem areas” I have with shading. It’s uneven. The darks aren’t really as dark as they should be. Overall, it’s messy.
I made no attempt at blending anything on this. That, I figured, would only make matters worse.
Although I quickly found out that Paul Green’s book is not for me, this was still a good practice session. I did get a chance to practice a bit, even though the results weren’t good. And the fun part of this was playing with a new set of drawing pencils I bought especially for use with this practice book. I have several sets of artist-grade drawing pencils, but for this practice project, I couldn’t resist buying one more. The sets I have, you see, include pencils ranging from 4H to 4B, or possibly to 6B. The Pencil Shading Practise Book gives grayscales ranging from 9H to 9B.
I found this inexpensive set and ordered it.
The book — which I got at no charge, thanks to my Amazon points — is not a total loss. I might play around with it again (probably not) or I might pass it on to an older grandson who loves to draw. He would like the futuristic illustrations, I’m sure.
And, I do like the pencil set. As I continue learning to shade, I’ll use it often, I’m sure. Not that I really need pencils ranging from 9H to 14B, but it’s fun to have them there among my drawing supplies. Hopefully, in time, I really will learn how to use them.
What tips and tricks do you have for learning and mastering shading techniques?