How to do smudge shading in Drawing




Smudge Shading

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Another technique in shading is smudging or smearing the graphite on the paper. You first create your basic shading as talked about on the previous page, then you take your finger and smudge or smear the graphite of the shading. The smudging of the shading will blur the shading, make it less crisp. The graphite will also get all over your fingertip. Smudging the graphite also will blend the shadow values closer together - the difference between the highlight to the midtone to the shadow will be less obvious, there is less contrast. Click on the image to the right to see what I mean.

Blending Stump
If you don't want to get your fingers dirty, you could always get a blending stump. A blending stump is essentially paper wrapped extremely tight around itself into a pencil-like stick that is pointed at both ends. Blending stumps come is many sizes; the smaller the stump, the finer you can get with your smudging. When you buy a stump it's clean, but a clean stump isn't going blend as well as a dirty stump, so you have to dirty it up. Here's how: On a sheet of paper take a pencil and tightly lay down a lot of graphite in a small area. take the tip of the blending stump and rub it around in the graphite, turning the stump as you rub so you can load up the whole tip with graphite. Now use the stump just as you would your finger to smudge the shading you've drawn. The more you use the blending stump, the more graphite gets rubbed into it, and the better it gets!

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Smudging the graphite means that you have to work less hard at shading. You can put some graphite down then smear it and cover a larger area with the blurred shadow than if you didn't smear the graphite. Since you want to smear the graphite, you'll want to use a softer lead pencil, like a 5B pencil for example. Softer lead, like 5B smears more readily than a harder lead pencil, like HB (a #2 pencil) or a 4H. If you want to try the smudging technique, I'd suggest using a 5B pencil. For more information on pencils click this page.

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The smearing (or smudging) shading effect creates softer, more blurry shadows than shading with basic shading. The softer shadows you can get with smearing works well when you're drawing smooth human skin, like a woman's or a baby's skin. Have you ever noticed in Glamour photography the photo is slightly blurred? That is done so that the imperfections on the skin are less noticeable. The same effect can be done if you smudge the shadows on your drawing of a person, or softer objects like clouds or clothing. I drew the Virgin Mary cover image of a book where I used the smearing technique quite extensively.

I'm not a big fan of the smudging technique because most of the time I don't want the blurring that it creates. You don't have to stick to one way of shading in your drawing, you can use several shading techniques if you'd like, including the smudging technique. However, I try and avoid using it as the main shading  technique.

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