What Are The Five Shading Techniques? Easy Guide For Beginners!

Drawing and sketching are great ways to improve your creativity. Along with creative writing, I will always find time to sketch and draw whenever I feel like it as it helps me relax and unwind especially after a long and busy day at work.

the five shading technique you need to know

Art is subjective but still, there are a few rules that you can follow that will take your drawing to a whole other level bringing your drawings into life—and one of them is shading. 

And today, we’ll be discussing some tips and pointers for proper shading and explore what are the five shading techniques that can breathe life into your drawings.

The purpose of shading in art

Ever since I learned how to use a pencil and paper, I’ve been fascinated with things that I can draw by hand. A few scribbles and doodles here and there, and the next thing I knew drawing became a habit that turned into a hobby. 

Shading is an excellent way to describe your drawing. It’s a process of adding value to create the illusion of realistic subjects, three-dimensionality, shadow, and most importantly the degrees of lightness and darkness in your drawings. 

a drawing of still life

And of course, like all things, practice makes perfect. That’s why it’s important for you to draw things more than once as things can help you learn and develop your style over time. 

There are many types of shading techniques and each one will give your drawing a unique appearance, but today we’ll be discussing the 5 pencil shading techniques to further you in your artistic journey. 

What are the five shading techniques?


hatching techniqueHatching is a shading technique where you draw parallel lines side by side. This is done by stroking your pencil in a uniform direction to create depth and dimension in your drawings. 

This is the simplest form of shading and is quite easy to do as well. If you layer the lines more closely together, it can create darker tones, whereas leaving more space in between the lines can create lighter tones. 

If you are trying to shade rounded objects, you can slightly curve your lines to create a contour effect, but still, it’s important to make sure that your lines are following the same direction to follow the hatching technique. 

Cross Hatching

cross hatchingA similar technique to hatching but involves lines crossing and overlapping each other at various angles to add a very unique texture to your drawings. 

To shade lighter areas, just go lighter on your strokes and create more space in between the lines, and to darken them just to the opposite by shading the lines closer and adding more pressure to your strokes. 

This is also a very easy technique that you can use for fabrics and fine lines found on the skin. 


scribblingScribbling is a fun and fast way to shade your drawings. It’s an excellent technique that not only adds value to your subject but also helps display a sense of texture as well. 

There’s no specific rule to follow with this kind of technique—think of it as somewhat similar to doodling. Erratic and unrefined lines are used to achieve the value that you want to portray on your subject. 

This can be great for shading subjects like plants, trees, portraits, and still life. 


circlingAnother fun shading technique consists of many overlapping circles to create smooth transitions as a whole. It’s best to use a duller pencil to create softer strokes for a more blended appearance. 

This technique is great for soft and fuzzy surfaces much like a teddy bear’s fur and the likes. This can also be a great technique to convey realistic skin as you can easily control the lightness and the darkness in areas where you need them to be. 

Just remember the harder your pencil strokes are the more value they will add to your drawing. 

Contour Shading

contour shadingA technique that embraces the shape of your subject creates an interesting result. Contour shading can go in any direction or angle that you like. 

This technique is best used for subjects that already have pre-existing lines along their surfaces in real life such as the human lips for example. 

This method greatly enhances the volume of a subject creating a three-dimensional shape to help your subject pop out from the paper. 

Shading Tips To Remember

Know what pencil to use and how

It’s best to have a handful of different types of pencils in different grades. In this way, you’ll be able to use a certain pencil grade for a specific shading technique that you want to achieve in your drawings.

For artistic use, pencil grades from 2h to 6B are ideal. This gives you enough options to achieve the results that you want to see in your art.

Pencil tips also play an important role in how your shading technique will turn out. The finer your pencil tip is, the sharper your lines will be, and the softer it is the wider and softer your pencil strokes will be as well.

Pressure is also something to keep in mind. Remember that the harder you press down on your pencil the darker your shading will appear, and the more densely you will shade the smoother your shading will be.

Combine techniques

Shading techniques can be used in combination wherever you see fit. Combining these techniques while varying pressure offers a number of benefits that you’ll see in your art which is a more realistic and artistic result. 

Practice makes perfect

Repetition is key to mastering shading because getting it right the first time is never a rule in art

Practicing also paves way for you to be experimental until you’ve finally found the style that seems natural and effortless for you—you should never feel frustrated with your art because it should be a relaxing and fun time for you. 

To simply put, 

The power of shading is truly undeniable. It might take some time and practice to perfect shading techniques but all that work is without a doubt worth it once you see the completion of your artwork.

There are a lot of other techniques that you can try like stippling, the 3’s, zigzag, and many more so go ahead and explore the endless opportunities in art!

And remember, great art takes time. Even Leonardo Da Vinci needed 20 years for him to finish his masterpiece, Mona Lisa, and look at how people from around the world traveled just to get a glimpse of his magnificent creation.

So take your time and try out different tools and different techniques until you’re content with your very own masterpiece.

And that’s it for today! Do you have other shading tips? Being an artist by necessity and not by skillset, I can surely use all the tips and help I can get! Let me know down in the comment section, it would be deeply appreciated.