"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
- Scott Adams

This is just a breif tutorial on how I do my shading. This is for more of an intermediate artist rather then a beginner but there is always something that you can learn. In this tutorial I am using different pencils, ranging from light to dark: 6H, 4H, F, HB, 4B, 6B and 8B. Pencils are really my favorite to work with, i hope that you will enjoy this and maybe even learn something!

So since this is a shading tutorial I am starting with the completed sketch. It took me about 20 minutes using this reference: [click to veiw].
As you can see nothing special, just some light outlines of what I want. You want to make sure that know where the shapes overlap and where the larger feathers met the smaller ones (at least I do). There are very few details at this point. Worry about the small stuff later.

The eraser is used only to erase some smudges around the bird and some very light guidelines. We don’t want to harm the paper or make areas that are much lighter then the  rest (due to some smudges which may have occurred). After this point I will not be using the Eraser but you can use it to brighten/lighten some areas later on if you like.

The scrap paper is there to test your pencils and prevent smudging.




    • Starting at the top. His crown is mainly black with white tips so I’ve gone ahead with the 6B and coloured them in. Using the same pencil I’ve shaded in some of the details with the feather as I won’t be touching this area until the very end, it’s basically done. Don’t forget about the light source!
    • Using a very light pencil 6H, I’ve gone ahead and shaded the bird giving him a light bas colour.
      With the same pencil I slightly darkened some areas on the facel
    • Now with a slightly darker pencil 4H I add more shading to the face, mainly around the eye and the side of the head which is facing away from the light. This gives it shape!
    • Now lets start moving downwards to his chest feathers. They are both brown and white so I’ve shaded with different pressures making lights and darks as well as leaving some spaces where only the 6H will show through. Don’t go too far though, there’s more on the left hand side to do and I don’t want to smudge my birds body!
    • Looking at the wing, I’ve decided I need a little bit more of a guide on the wings then I originally had. This is where the scrap paper comes in handy. Use it to cover up any parts of the image where you hand may cause smears. Using my regular mechanical pencil I have given myself some extra guidelines to follow when shading.




  • So I finished adding a few more guidelines along the wing and started to shade it using a darker pencil F (remember this wing is not facing light). Again I’ve given it a base color and then applied more pressure to some of the darker areas
  • Now I’ll use the darker HB and color over the feathers again, leaving the base color on the feather tips yes again. Once this is done we can use the darker 4B pencil to add shadows under each feather and the further the depth and details on the wings. Once I reach the bottom of the wings I’ve taken the 6B and coloured in the parts which will be very dark as they are under his wing and body.
  • Now that’s the wing is done lets continue moving over the body with the HB and 4B creating the body shape and the feather details.
  • Once I’ve coloured the feathers which have a shadow I have stopped.
  • I’ve gone ahead and added some more guide lines to the bird’s left wing and I’ve coloured under the wing as well. Maybe not the best Idea but I felt like it, and that’s what art is about




    • So you can see the bird is really starting to come together at this point. I’ve taken the F pencil and shaded in the lighter feathers and begun to darken some of the other ones moving form light to dark all over the body.
    • My main focus now is adding in all of the shadows using the F, HB, and 4B pencils.
    • Once the body is mostly coloured feel free to smudge the pencil if you feel the need to. I’ve slightly smudged the colour on the body to blend the light and darks together. Make sure to do it now before you begin to add the final details. You can even use a blending pencil if you like, I have not but whatever you feel makes the picture whole.
    • Now feel free to move onto the claws and the wood on which e is perched. Remember these items are light so don’t use anything too dark!!



    • Going top to bottom I’ve coloured the claws first using the light 4H and the HB and 4H for the shadows and talons.
    • When doing claws remember that the pencil should flow in the shape of his claws which are round and bone like. You don’t want to blur it too much or it looks smooth and unnatural.
    • The same goes for the wood regarding the pencil lines, a little bit of blur is good but too much doesn’t look right and removes texture. This log appears to have its bark going up and down with the shape of the branch so try to keep that flow. Once you given it the base colour go on and add some details using a darker pencil. I’m using the 4B
    • Now is the fun part! Take the 4B, 6B and 8B to add any final shadows, darken areas you feel need to be darker and add more intricate details to the overall pic!
      What I’ve done is  used the 4B to darken the ares under the feathers in the part facing the light (right hand side) and the facial features.
      Used the 6B to do all the mid tones and shadows that need to be darkened. This gives depth to the whole image
      Used the 8B for the darkest area’s under the wings, under the edges of the feathers and the talons. I also used it in the details of the crown. This really makes your image have texture and a good feel of the light and dark areas.
      Finally if you like, I take my mechanical pencil and I draw some lines in the feathers, lightly enough  not to interfere with the pic but enough to show the details.




I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and good luck with your own drawings!

-Samantha Lim


Always Drawing...
Good, but never great...
Finished, yet never complete...
Corrected, yet never flawless...
Striving for perfection is a long hard road
And when you get there...
you still have yourself, to compete with....
~Samantha Lim