How to: Vibrant Pencil Shading Techniques tutorial - Art-n-Fly

Vibrant Pencil Shading Techniques

by Anisa A. Claire


Want to take your coloring to the next level? Make your picture pop with vibrant color shading using these nine steps.

Before we start, let’s quickly cover the tools you’ll need…

  • Picture with medium size coloring spaces
  • Two light (or bright) colored pencils in the same color family
  • One medium colored pencil in a color family close to the first two pencils
  • One dark colored pencil in the same color family as the third pencil
  • Colorless blending pencil
  • Pencil sharpener

The brand of your colored pencils, blender and pencil sharpener don’t particularly matter. It is slightly easier to blend with softer pencils, but by no means impossible to do with hard lead pencils.  So, don’t fret if your budget doesn’t allow for the more expensive brands because you can still learn to color like a pro with the less expensive ones.

The reason you want medium to large spaces is because you need space to work. Small to tiny spaces don’t leave much room for multi-color shading techniques.



Color pencil shading techniquesIf you’re using the same color combination as this article, the lightest color is light yellow.With your lightest colored pencil, color a small section in the center of the section you chose.  Apply a decent amount of pressure in uneven strokes. The more even your strokes are, the more difficult it will be to create a natural-looking blend.




Color pencil shading techniques tips tutorialsFor this article, the second color used was dark yellow. Remember, though, you don’t need to use the same brand or colors to get the same effect.Now, take your second pencil in the same color family and work your way outward from the light color.  Bring the dark color on top of the lighter color a little bit, but don’t totally cover the lighter yellow. As in the previous step, apply a decent amount of pressure in uneven strokes.



Color pencil shading techniques tips tutorialsThe third color used in this article was a medium orange.With your third color, continue working outward and going over the previous color just a touch. Apply a good amount of pressure in uneven strokes and make sure to leave a similar size space for your fourth color.





Color pencil shading techniques tips tutorials

The fourth color should be significantly darker than the first three colors you used. In this case, the color is a dark orange/red. This color will meet up with the outline of the space you’re working in and it will also go on top of the last color a little bit.  Again, apply some pressure while coloring.

This time, your uneven strokes will only be on the side going into the previous color. The side meeting the outline you’ll want to keep it even/inside the black line.



Color pencil shading techniques tips tutorials

At this point, you’ll notice the space looks a little bit messy. Don’t fret. It should look like that because the next few steps are what pull the whole look together.

Using your colorless blender, start on the second color (dark yellow) and pull it into the first color (light yellow) using sideways strokes. Then, go to the third color (medium orange) and pull it into the second color with the same sideways strokes. Be careful not to pull the medium orange into the light yellow too much. You don’t need much pressure to pull the colors in. Finally, pull the darkest color (orange/red) into the third color (medium orange). Again, you don’t want to pull too much of the darkest color (orange/red) into the second color (dark yellow) and you don’t want to pull any of the darkest color into the lightest color.

If you accidentally pull the dark color too far in, don’t panic. You can rub some of it out in the final step.



Now that you’ve pulled all the colors over each other from lightest to darkest using sideways strokes, you want to work your way around in the same steps going up and down (the opposite direction of what you’ve already done).

The reason you’re using opposite strokes is to smooth out the pull lines you just created in the last step.

***IMPORTANT*** When you head back into the light area, make sure you wipe the tip of your colorless blender. If you don’t wipe the tip of your blender, you’ll end up smearing the darkest color all over your light interior.



At this point, you should notice the transition between colors in your shaded section looking quite smooth.  To polish it a little more, rub your colorless blender over the entire surface of the area in the same fashion as you would if you were filling the space with one color.

Start from the darkest color and work your way in, making sure to wipe your tip as you approach the lightest color. Color from all different directions to work out any remaining stroke marks.


Color pencil shading You’re almost finished! As a last step, go over the edges of the section again with your darkest color. Don’t work in much, though.  Now you’re basically darkening the outline to sharpen the contrast a bit.


Finally, take your colorless blender and lightly go over the outline you just applied. You won’t be pulling it into the next color this time, though. This is simply to smooth out the dark edges a little bit.


That’s it. Now you know how to shade vibrant colors in nine simple steps. The more you practice this technique, the easier and less time-consuming it will become. Soon enough, you’ll be able to create this look without even thinking about it.

Play around with different colors to find your favorite combinations. The trick is to stay in compatible color families.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

2 Responses


February 12, 2024

Nice techniques. I recently learned pencil shading from

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