How to do Blending/Smudging Shading (Technique) for Beginners

Blending/Smudging for Beginners


Pencil blending is a technique used in drawing to achieve smooth transitions between different tones resulting in a lifelike, realistic and refined look to your art. It includes smoothly combining pencil marks to remove harsh lines and produce gradual shading. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively blend pencils in your drawings:


Get Your Pencils Ready:
Select pencils of different hardness (H) and softness (B) levels. Harder pencils (H) create lighter marks with less graphite, while softer pencils (B) produce darker and richer tones. For blending, a pencil set ranging from 2H to 6B works well.


Create a Base Layer:
Begin by making light sketches of the main outlines and shapes of your subject. Use a firmer pencil (like 2H or H) to do this initial drawing. Afterward, establish a foundation of shading using the same sturdy pencil. Apply light and even strokes in the direction of the form’s contours.


Layering for Gradation:
Start adding softer pencils (like HB, 2B, or 4B) on top of the initial layer to create shading. Apply these pencil strokes following the shape’s direction and concentrate on the parts that need to be darker. Slowly press harder as you add more layers, letting the tones blend together naturally.


Use Blending Tools:
Tools for blending, like blending stumps, tortillons (rolled paper), or even tissue paper, can be useful for making smoother blends. Softly rub the tool over the shaded part to spread and make the graphite gentler. Your finger can also be used, but be careful not to press too strongly and make the surface uneven.


Circular Motion Blending:
For bigger sections, try blending in circles with the tool. This helps smoothen out the pencil lines and makes everything look even. Take your time, use gentle motions, and keep an eye on how it’s turning out.


Try Different Things:
Each person has their unique way of blending. Experiment with using your finger, paper, or even a special tool if you have it. Improve your skills by practicing frequently.