Time for another beginners watercolour tutorial! Today we’re going to tackle something really important: shading!

So before we work on techniques, let’s learn about the basic timeline of a painting. Every artist has a different way of doing things but this is mine.
1. Sketch out a picture.
2. Ink the picture using a fine black pen.
3. Do a basic wash with light colours. A wash is what it’s called when you do one very thin coat with a base colour to work on.
4.  Add shadows using a darker tone.
5. Once it’s dry, add highlights using a white gel pen.
So really what I’m saying is that basic shading consists of a base colour, shadow and highlight. Blend those colours together and you’re set. Just make sure that you keep in mind where the light source in your drawing is and shade according to that.
There are different ways to achieve shading as well. Below you can see a rose which has been shaded using different techniques.
Block shading is a technique where there is no blending of the shading at all, the colours are just painted on and left. This gives a cartoonish effect.
Blended shading is what the name suggests, where the shading is blended together.
It’s much easier to blend colours together smoothly when they are wet on wet paper. Have a look at at the picture below, there is a splotch of blue and of red and then water between them.
Using a clean brush with a little water on it brush the two colours together and swirl them to mix.
It is much easier to blend seamlessly on wet paper than it is with dry.
A combination of block and blended shading works really well on areas such as hair.
To achieve that, use a blended shading technique while it’s wet and then add block shading when it’s dry.
You can really play with things like colour once you get comfortable with shading.
For example here is a regular line drawing…
And here is a shaded version…
Practice is the most important part of this. It takes a while but when you’ve done enough drawings you can get a feel for things. It sounds really cliche but it’s very true! The more you practice drawing things the more it becomes muscle memory. Look at the world around you and look at where the light hits things, shading and colouring is a skill which is completely separate from drawing to learn so don’t be discouraged and practice both of them separately and together!
I hope you found this helpful and I can’t wait to see what you guys paint!

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