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Updated on January 12, 2011
Shaded Peacock
Shaded Peacock | Source

To Shade or Not to Shade


Shading your Zentangle designs is not difficult to do. Shading creates depth in the design and allows certain areas of your tangles to move back, giving your design a three dimensional appearance. The shading process doesn’t take long to do, but it adds a great deal to your design.

There are two basic ways to shade your tangles. The first way is to use your Micron marker and just add more lines that are closer together. The second way is to use a graphite pencil and a rubbing stick. (Use the side of the pencil end instead of the point. After applying the shading, use your rubbing/blending stick to blend it in so there are no sharp end lines.) Both types of shading were used on the example above. (Click on the picture to make it larger and easier to see the shading.)

I used my Micron pen (01) on the second feather from the left on this peacock. I made several shorter lines in each “feather row” to darken the areas and send them back, and then left a lot of white on the tips of the feathers to make them look closer to the viewer. On this tangle I also used a graphite pencil lightly in the darker areas and then took my kneaded eraser and made sure there wasn’t a lot of shading on the light part of the feathers.

On the real-life looking feather on the far right of the design, between each feather, and on the peacock’s body, I used a graphite pencil and a rubbing stick to blend the shading to give each area depth. You will notice that the shading is always on the right side of the feathers (except on the peacock’s body). If you want to create the impression that each tangle is positioned behind the one next to it, just darken the same side of each tangle in a repetitive row. This gives the impression that each feather is layered on top of the next. I also used my eraser in the areas where I got a bit carried away with my shading.

On the sixth tangle feather from the left (third from the right) I also used patterns to make some depth to the tangle. The tangle patterns at the bottom of the feather, nearest to the body, are closer together and have more dark areas. I gradually opened up the pattern a bit on the upper portion of the feather to give them a lighter look.

Shading is beneficial when creating a weaved tangle where you want the design to look as though some of the rows are behind other rows. Tangle examples would be: Keeko, Huggins, or any other basket weave pattern. Lightly shade the areas you want to look behind and leave the top layers alone.

You can also create depth in a tangle design my using black or darkened out areas of the design. There are many tangle designs that would be good examples of this to list. (Check out Beeline, Cadent, Cubine, Dex, Laced and W2 to name just a few) Anytime you want to create a three dimensional feel to your design, make some areas darker and others lighter.

Have fun and practice this technique. You’ll discover it’s easy to create three-dimensional designs without the need for those ugly 3-D glasses!


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