3 Basic Shading Techniques to Elevate Your Drawings

Drawing of a young man using hatching

Photo: OlgaTropinina/Depositphotos

When creating a drawing, there are various methods one can use to create volume or light and shadow. This includes several different shading techniques outlined in My Modern Met Academy's beginner course, Drawing 101: Learn the Building Blocks of SketchingIn this online class, illustrator Margherita Cole equips students with everything they need to know to embark on their sketching journey. And this includes several different shading techniques.

These time-honored techniques—hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling—have been used for centuries by draughtsmen to give them work dimensions. From Albrecht Dürer to Rembrandt to Georges Seurat, all three of these methods are used by incredible artists. And though they seem simple, understanding how to use them, when to use them, and why to use them is the key to success.

Check out a short explanation of three essential shading techniques, and then enroll today to get all 2.5 hours of instruction. You'll be able to start the class at your leisure and watch each lesson as many times as you want, making it a lasting resource for improving your drawings.

Here are three essential shading techniques to help you enhance your drawings.


Drawing of a hand holding a magnifying glass using hatching

Photo: Sentavio/Depositphotos

Hatching uses short, tight parallel lines to denote an area of darkness. Artists can stagger these lines or spread them further apart to create different lighting effects. You can do one show of hatches or several rows to build up larger areas of shadow.


Drawing of a banana using cross-hatching

Photo: ClassyCatStudio/Depositphotos

Cross-hatching can create deeper, richer shadows due to its intersecting lines. The technique starts by creating hatched lines, which are then crossed over in a manner that creates a texture akin to a fabric on the page. By building up the cross-hatches in certain areas, gradations of light and shade can be obtained.



Drawing of a Saturn using stippling

Photo: naktisart/Depositphotos

Stippling may be the most time-consuming of the techniques, but the effect is well worth it. It involves placing tiny dots in an area to create shadow. These dots, which should not touch, can be spaced differently to show levels of darkness. The further away the dots, the lighter the area will appear, while dots close together will make an area darker.

In Drawing 101: Learn the Building Blocks of Sketching, illustrator Margherita Cole shares how to use three shading techniques effectively.

Online Drawing Class

She'll go over how hatching, cross-hatching, and stippling can all be used to enhance your drawings.

How to Use Hatching in Drawing

How to Use Cross Hatching in Drawing

How to Use Stippling in Drawing

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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