Day 11: Edges and levels of shading

We are going to look at ways to tackle shading depending on how much time you have. As always, these are not rules but just ideas and suggestions that you can take or leave.

If you don’t have much time – 1 minute – just draw the edges of the simplest shadow shapes. It’s not necessary to fill with shade because as we talked about, it’s the edge that tells you about the shift in the planes facing the light to the ones facing away from the light. 

Here’s some examples from Chris Glib – notice how in some drawings he does have hatching to fill with shade, but in others he doesn’t and it still works. You still understand the shape of the figure and it feels 3D.

Using a softer and wider line for these edges than for outlines is often effective. 

Notice the difference in the type of line Lane Brown has used here versus the outline. The surface is organic and in many places it’s curved so the plane change is not sudden.

If it is sudden and you see a harsh edge, then by all means make that edge harder. 

This is one approach – Chris Glib’s fineliner pens aren’t made for those soft, fat lines but he uses light lines for the edges of the shadows and it works great with his style.

So the edges are the main thing to get in place. If you do have a little more time, you could add 1-2 levels of tone for shade. For 2 minutes I might add one level. For 5 minutes, 2-3 levels. It’s often effective to keep the tonal areas flat rather than trying to get a lot of gradation and detail into the tone. With short time, we are going for just the important information, and that’s given by the edges. 

If you have more time like 20 to 60 minutes or something, you can get more levels of gradation and nuance in there. That is up to you, but even then the big simple shapes is still the best place to start the drawing in the early stages. You can add more complexity from there. These are longer pastel drawings by Mayko and they’re more developed. But notice that the colours are still really simple shapes.

So during today’s practice, if you only have a short time, focus on the edges of the tonal shapes rather than shading.  A softer or wider mark for the those edges can work nicely. If you have a little extra time, try just a few levels of tone. Don’t forget to subscribe, use the #figuary on Instagram and enjoy the Croquis Cafe practice sessions. See you in the next post!

Day 11 Croquis Cafe practice

Day 12 tutorial


How to Draw Any Pose from IMAGINATION During your journey of learning to draw the figure, you’ll probably have pivotal, memorable moments. Maybe it’s a drawing that felt like a turning