Today we are taking a look at this graphite drawing by artist  Gerjanne Tiggelaven. You can check out more of Gerjanne’s work at

This is SO well drawn. I stress this all the time, but it really is so important to start with an accurate drawing. If you’re missing that foundation, once you start shading and blending, it’s not going to get better. Obviously that was not a problem here. You’ve captured the subject perfectly!

Now you said in your submission that you want advice in the shading. This is really easy once you’ve gotten to this step. Basically, you want to darken everything up by a LOT. If you’re working a lot in graphite, I strongly recommend getting a mechanical pencil and filling it with Ain 4B lead. That will get darker than a regular 9B pencil. It’s also great for getting small details without having to constantly sharpen your regular graphite pencils.

Next, whenever working in graphite, I start by taking my reference photo and making it black and white so that I can more easily see my values. Once adjusted to black and white it’s pretty obvious where you can go darker on yours. Pretty much everywhere needs to be darkened up. What is happening is that you’ve left everything so light that your highlights aren’t showing up. You’ve got to get everything else darker so that you can see the highlights, making the face look more three dimensional.



Look what happens when I put the two images side by side. It’s so much easier to see now how much darker yours can go. I’ve put swatches of the same areas of the portrait right next to each other. First the darker area of the forehead, then the darkest side of the cheek, followed by the lightest area of the cheek and so on. All of the skin needs to be darkened up by a LOT. Your shading looks fine as far as being smooth, it’s just not quite finished yet. This is always my favorite part of a portrait because you’ve already got all the hard work done, now you just need to go back and do more shading on top of what’s already there 😀