Drawing lesson #3: Shading and refining

If you have missed lessons #1 and #2, please feel free to visit them before reading this lesson! 🙂

I procrastinated doing this post because…well, Thanksgiving was pretty busy… but also I find it a bit difficult to break down what I’m doing and explain step by step what is happening when I draw. I have drawn for so long that until I started posting it here, I never really thought much about how to verbalize it.  It never occurred to me before that it would be so hard to do!  🙂 However, I will give continue to give it my best try!  Please bear with me, as I am not a trained teacher (so my techniques might seem a bit wacky to some people).  🙂

I was mostly finished drawing the eyes when I left off last time.

While continually looking at the reference picture, I decide where the shadows on the nose will be, and use a tortillion to “draw” the shadows on softly.


      Next, holding my pencil at an angle like this (below), I start shading the darkest parts of the face, lightly. (If you aren’t sure where the darkest parts are, try squinting your eyes and looking at it…or turn it up side down. That sometimes helps me.)


It ends up looking like this.


I get a piece of tissue paper and blend the pencil on the whole face, being careful not to touch the eyes. In the picture below, I blended the right half so you can see what a difference it makes.


Next, forgetting about the face for a moment…I hold my pencil at the back like this (below), I quickly “wisp” hairs onto the top of the head. I just freely stroke the hair as I please. My pencil just goes really quick and I direct it by watching the reference photo as I work. It doesn’t have to look exactly like the photo, just close. Don’t be a perfectionist!


After “wisping” a while, this is the result:


Then, using the pencil at the side angle again, I lightly shade the rest of the hair in. Don’t worry about the direction of the pencil lines as long as you are shading lightly with the side of the pencil lead.


Using the tissue paper again, I blend it all in.


Then, I move on to the face again…yes, I move all over the place when I’m drawing. I take a kneaded eraser, and while looking at the reference photo, I try to find all the places on the face that are lighter than the rest. Just the opposite of what I did when I was trying to shade the face. If you have a hard time seeing the highlights, squint your eyes and look at the picture, or hold it upside down. (It sounds strange, but I promise, it works!)

After you lift highlights, be sure to use the tip of your pencil and draw back lines that have softened – such as the line between the lips, the bottom of the nose, the eyelashes, under the chin…whatever needs it (be sure to always check with the reference photo again and again to be sure).


For sharper lines to highlight, I use a cap eraser. I make sure to try not to forget the little things, like subtle lights under the lip, or around the eyes, on the edges of the nose, etc.


When you’re using the kneaded eraser, you want to knead it really good, then pat on the surface where you want to lift highlights. Then knead again when it stops working and is covered in lead. If your highlight looks “blotchy”, you can use tissue around the edges of where you have lifted in order to make it look smooth again.

After I did this, I also used the kneaded eraser and slid it back and forth on the hair to create subtle highlights. I’ll work more on that part but this is the initial step for me. I also used a cap eraser to “draw” on little light lines…the cap eraser really helps make those little blonde highlights.

Another thing, in the picture below you will notice that I added another layer over the places where the darker shadows on her face needed to be. You might have to do this several times, and smooth with tissue, before it is the shade you need. I do it over, and over, and over. And I use the kneaded eraser over, and over, and over…until I get it the way I like it.


The next three pictures show the same steps repeated on the hair and face.




I noticed somewhere along the line that I drew the hairline to be way too high on the forehead, but I adjusted it. So, to anyone following along- I’m sorry about that. You’ll probably have to lower the hairline about an inch for it to look right. Just wisp a little bit lower, and add to what you have already. 🙂

I added a few little curly hairs to the edges of her hair, for added cuteness. 😉 These are really easy to do…just let your pencil be free and draw lightly.


I’ll finish this drawing up in my next lesson.

Please let me know your thoughts. Is there anything you would like to know how to do that I haven’t thought about explaining?

Is there anything you would like to teach me? I know I still have much to learn.

I am happy to receive any and all comments, and will try to respond to each and every one.


2 thoughts on “Drawing lesson #3: Shading and refining

  1. Sarah Martin

    You are AMAZING! I am reading along but…I could never do this. I don’t know how you see shadow in the picture. I look at the picture of the baby and I still couldn’t see it. But that is because I do not have an artist’s eye. That isn’t how I look at it. I guess the same way some hear music but don’t hear all the different instruments moving along and harmonizing…I can pick out each instrument because I am a musician. You are an artist so you see things differently. Your talent has already touched me so much and my mom looks at that portrait of my dad every morning!!

    Liked by 1 person


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