“I love my tile the way it is – I’m afraid shading it will mess it up!”
I’ve heard that comment often from my students. While shading adds a whole new look to your tile, it is another area where uncertainty lies. How will you know you like it better when it’s shaded?
First thing to remember is – it’s pencil. Pencil can be erased. I know, there are no erasers in Zentangle, but if worse comes to worse, you can always go back to the original tile as long as you’ve shaded in pencil. It’s your art. Nobody will tell on you!
Second rule of thumb is to shade in layers. Start lightly, laying down a small amount of graphite and gently pulling it down to create a shaded line. If you use the side of your pencil and shade gently, there will be no hard line to blend or to dig into the paper.
Third suggestion is to use the side of your tortillon or blending stump when you’re shading and move in small strokes. This gives you more control over where the graphite is going.
Is the shading still not showing? Go back and add another layer of graphite in the places you want a bit darker. Blend again, and keep doing this until you have the effect you want. Depending on the paper and the tangle, and where it is in the image, you might add more graphite in some places and less in others.
Worried about smudging? If you lay down too much graphite all at once it can look too heavy, giving the whole tile a greyish look. Keep a light touch, and be aware of where your hand is so that it doesn’t trail the graphite where you don’t intend.
Go slowly. One stroke at a time when drawing with your pen, and also when shading and blending, too.
It’s important to remember that shading isn’t something you tack on at the end of a tile. It’s part of the whole Zentangle process and that means it deserves the same attention as your pen lines. Take time to look at your tile, admire it, turn it, and see if you’re drawn to a particular area. Add your shading slowly and carefully, and enjoy the simple strokes and calming effect of working slowly and carefully.
Remember too, that there is more than one way to add shading. Depending on your tile you might want to shade the overall shape, add detail to a tangle, or create depth to your piece. You don’t have to do it all.
Finally, if the idea of shading the original tile is still causing anxiety, you can always scan in your tile and make copies. Then you can experiment until you find the look you want.
A CZT can provide more details, techniques and examples, and there are a number of different shading techniques that can be fun to explore. Join me online for ‘Draw the Shades’, an online adventure into all the ins and outs of shading in Zentangle. ‘Draw the Shades’ is Nov 7th from 1:00-3:30pm PST and you can register online here, or contact me for more info.
Simple shading can make a tile jump to life. Try these suggestions and see what happens!