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

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Sometimes, artists think of the white (or "highlighted") areas of their portrait as "whatever is left over after I finish shading." But there's more to the white areas than that. Using the subtle light gray areas around a highlight will bring it out, and emphasize its importance. Highlights add a crispness and "punch" to a portrait. The highlight on the eye, the tip of the nose, the lower lip—these highlights help bring the portrait to life.

Shading explained - highlights

In this portrait, the classic areas (eye highlight, lip, cheek, bridge of nose) have a highlighted spot. These are areas that are usually facing up, towards the light source. Therefore, they get more light cast upon them. The eye and the lip have a moistness to them. The highlight will also be used to indicate this.

Because of the effective use of subtle light tones (previous page) the highlights stand out, but not too much. But they are there, and give the face a dimensional, realistic feel.

Tones on darker skinShading for darker skin tones:

The principle for shading portraits with darker skin tones is the same as shading any other portrait. You will look for the proper tones, and shade them in.

Depending on the person's skin tone, you might use a darker "medium gray." You'll end up covering a lot of the face with this gray. Highlights will be a paler gray. Few highlights will be white or almost white.

There will be more darker grays. There will also be more blacks and "dark darks," but not as many as you might think. If possible, use the dark darks as "accents," like at the corner of the mouth, the nostril, eyes, eyebrows, shadow under jaw, hair, etc.

Click on this image to see a larger version, with the main tones identified.

You'll see that most of the face is "dark" or "medium gray." The "highlights" are not really white, but more like a light gray. Black tones are reserved for "accents," like nostrils, the line between the mouth, etc.

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