Rendering and Shading


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Ballpoint pen sketch of male profile - by JR Dunster

Above is an example of the cross-hatching technique. It is most often used with pen and ink (or, in the example above, ball-point pen). Small thin "hatched" lines are used to simulate shadows or darker tones.

But there's more to shading than just hacking in some lines. The type of line you use is important, how you use other shading techniques, and also knowing what to shade - these are all just as important.


Rendering illustration - cross-hatchingTo the left are two cylinders. The one on top is drawing using what I call "contour lines" The bottom cylinder uses random cross-hatching lines. Both are used to give the cylinder a more 3-D and dimensional look. Which one do you think is more successful?

While both cylinder shapes look...well, cylindrical, I believe the top cylinder looks more 3-D. That's because the "contour lines" go around the cylinder, which emphasizes its roundness.

The bottom drawing gives the cylinder a shadow, but it doesn't have as much of a "3-D" look. The lines do nothing but suggest a tone. They can suggest dark, less dark, medium, light - that's all they can do. Actually, if you look at the bottom cylinder in a certain way, you aren't sure if the rendering is really supposed to be a shadow, or just a dark stripe down the side.

I personally find myself using a certain amount of "dimensional" or "contour" lines in my drawings, paintings - anything I create. I can feel the depth and shape of the thing I am rendering, and some of my brush strokes show that. Other brush strokes (or pencil lines, etc.) are just used to indicate tone, to deepen the shadow. But there are always "contour lines" in there somewhere, helping to give that suggestion of depth.

This is not to say that all drawings must use contour lines. Some artists have fantastic rendering techniqes which don't allow them. Like - painting everything in little dots, random hatches, and so forth. No one technique is suitable for every artist.

But, when drawing faces, I find that these contour lines to be so alive. So I prefer to use them.

rendering - example -cross-hatching

Here's another example - which set of lips look more like lips? Which set looks more round and alive? I vote for the bottom set. The shading lines are more "contoured" and give the illusion of depth to the lips. The top set of lips give some indication of tone, but the cross-hatching is so poorly done, that it flattens the lips.

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To learn more about how to use your pencil or pen to make shading and rendering strokes, please read the "Drawing Techniques" section. >>

If you are a little unclear about the concept of shading, please read the "Drawing for Newbies" tutorial, which gives an introduction to shading, among other things. >>


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