Shading explained: tones and shades of portrait art drawing and sketching.
Shading Explained

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The "subtle" light tones are often ignored by some newbie portrait artists. But there is a lot of detail in these light tones. This additional rendering and blending will make the portrait look more realistic and natural. Sometimes a light, subtle tone will have some important detail of the face, which could be important for getting a good likeness.


A light touch must be used for these light tones (and if one is too heavy-handed, a few gentle pats of the kneaded rubber eraser will lighten up the area). When you are drawing from a photograph or from life, look closely at your model, to see these subtle light tones. One way to "see" them is to identify the highlighted (white or almost white) areas of the face—and look at the areas right around these highlighted areas. Usually, they are just a little darker, which makes them "subtle" light tones! Look carefully, and draw them in.

Shading explained - light tones

In this portrait, the subtle grays are often in "transitional" areas (going from shadowed to light). The subtle light tones help to show a rounded form. For instance, the roundness of the ball of the nose, the roundness of the muscle in the neck, the roundness of the chin, or brow. These lighter tones help blend the medium tones with the highlighted areas, and to give the face a blended, more realistic look.

Also, the subtle light tones will be used to indicate faint wrinkles, or perhaps a "5-O'clock shadow," or subtle structural details of the face.

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