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Drawing a Pencil Portrait - Shading Technique

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2a - The Tone of the Eyes

Pencil Portrait Step 2a - The Tone of the Eyes

You should begin your shading of the portrait with the eyes. The tones used around the eyes should:

1. Help the eyes sit solidly in their sockets by creating a shadow beneath each eyelid where it rests on the eyeball.

2. Give the eyes a sparkling look by placing the brightest highlight against the dark pupil.

3. Create the translucent effect of the iris by capturing its changing tone.

4. Create the curved planes of the eyelids and sockets with softly graduated tone.

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2b - The Tone of the Nose

Pencil Portrait Step 2b - The Tone of the Nose

The difficulty with drawing the nose from the front is that there are so few outlines to help you define its shape. You have to rely on tone to mould its three dimensional form.

Begin by drawing any outlines you can see, namely the edges of the nostrils, the philtrum (the triangular dimple below your nose) and the creases that slope away from the sides of the nose.

Next, slowly shade in the main areas of tone as cast by the light.

Finally, with careful observation, you can fine-tune the intensity of dark and light tone to create a more realistic looking nose.

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2c - The Tone of the Mouth

Pencil Portrait Step 2c - The Tone of the Mouth

There is a symmetrical arrangement of muscles in the lips and around the mouth which move to form different expressions.

By using tone to highlight these muscles, you can add greater realism to the shape of the lips and convey a specific expression in the portrait. The distinctive cracks on the surface of the lips will help to suggest their texture.

As a general rule, the upper lip is smaller and darker in tone as it is shaded from the light. The lower lip tends to be fuller and brighter in tone as it catches the light.

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2d - The Tone of the Neck

Pencil Portrait Step 2d - The Tone of the Neck

The darker tone of the neck forms a strong contrast with the light edge of the chin and jaw. This has the visual effect of lifting and focusing attention on the head.

The thin line of reflected light on the left side of the neck highlights a tendon which both physically and visually strengthens the balance of the head.

The horizontal bands of tone which create the soft ripples of flesh on the neck help to emphasise its roundness and solidity.

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2e - The Tone of the Hair

Pencil Portrait Step 2e - The Tone of the Hair

The tone of the hair is created by hatched lines as opposed to the soft graduated tone of the face. These lines should be drawn fast and forcefully and must follow the natural flow of the hair.

Build up the tone of the hair in sections according to its natural layers. Use a heavier concentration of lines to shade the darker edges, especially where layers overlap.

Ease off gradually to capture the lighter areas, leaving the pure white of the paper to highlight the natural sheen of the hair.

 

Pencil Portrait Step 2f - The Tone of the T-Shirt

Pencil Portrait Step 2f - The Tone of the T-Shirt

The tone of the T-shirt should add to the solidity of the figure and form a substantial base for the head.

Softly graduated shading is used to convey the volume of the figure, while the more detailed folds act as contours to define its surface.

The graduated shading technique naturally lends itself to reproducing the soft texture of the T-shirt's fabric.

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