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I have tried to create different shades with my pencil, but it ended up looking very messy. Would anyone know how to softly transition from light to dark while using only one pencil?

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Try doing crosshatching:

  • Make sure your pencil is always sharp. [The point of a wooden pencil becomes dull after several strokes, so I suggest using a mechanical pencil instead (HB 0.7 works great).]
  • Don’t smudge your strokes. (If you do it unwillingly with the palm of your hand, then put a piece of paper underneath it.)
  • Strokes should follow the shape of the object.
  • Make the stroke in the same direction instead of forwards and backwards.
  • Apply more or less pressure when you make the strokes to achieve different shades and if you need an even darker shade, then make a crosshatch.
  • Do the crosshatching at a slight angle (about 20o) and not at 90o
  • If you want some very fine and gradual transition, then make sure your strokes are not too far apart from one a another, and that you rely more on overlapping several layers of strokes rather than relying on pressure.

Here are some good examples to illustrate my points.

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If you want to do lighter shade with the help of a pencil, first make sure your pencil is sharp, if not, it will be okay but, the picture will look messy if the tip of the pencil is not sharp. Secondly, hold your pencil and press it slowly on the paper. For darker shade, hold the pencil and press it with a force on the paper.

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