Top 5 Adult Coloring Tips for Shading with Colored Pencils

Since adult coloring books became a trend, people started getting more conscious about their creative skills. And because it’s such a relaxing activity, we have all been taking our coloring to the next level by actually putting in lots of effort into those pre-drawn images.

But whether you are only starting out as a user of coloring books for adults, or you are an artist waiting to explore the capabilities of your colored pencil set, you will surely appreciate these tips on how to shade properly.

Shading with colored pencils is not so different from shading with other tools, except pencils are a bit more delicate, so you’ll have to control the amount of pressure you put in, or else you’ll break them. It can be a hassle having to sharpen a couple of pencils over and over again.

So here are our five tips on how to shade properly using colored pencils. You can use these tips to expand your creative side, or just make the images on your adult coloring book more beautiful.

Adult Coloring Tip #1: Learn Pressure Shading

Pressure Shading Adult Coloring 101


What is pressure shading you ask? Well, it is the simplest, most natural type of shading that you can use on your artwork. It is so easy to do that even those who aren’t artists by heart could figure out how it’s done, and even master it.

You just alter the pressure on your pencil to a fine point to make small, overlapping circular marks with as light a pressure as you can. This is a gentle technique that works wonders on any image, transforming it from a basic drawing into a masterpiece. At the very least, it will set your drawing apart from your works when you were a kid.

While doing this, try to cover the area smoothly at the lighter end of the section, gradually increasing the pressure as you work toward the darker end, where it’s almost solidly filled in.

Adult Coloring Tip #2: Practice Shading Two Contrasting Colors

Contrasting Colors


This one is a bit more difficult, so you’re gonna have to spend a little time practicing it. You should basically try to shade two contrasting colors into one another, blending them gently to create a delicately beautiful effect.

For example, you can take your red pencil and find a contrasting color for it – let’s say green, for example. Starting with the red pencil, shade from left to right, dark to light. Then take your green pencil and start shading from right to left, dark to light. It will begin blending spectacularly.

Try to make the shading as seamless as possible, where they meet in the middle and soon you’ll be shading like a pro.

Adult Coloring Tip #3: Use Darker Colors to Intensify the Image

Adult Coloring Books - Shading 


Shading with dark colors can bring depth and intensity to your artwork, and it works for colored pencils too! Layering the darker colors over the light or medium ones will create a wonderful illusion of realism.

Use this knowledge to your advantage and make your drawings more interesting! Simply work back and forth with the medium and dark colors until the transition looks smooth. Remember to keep your pressure medium and steady so that you don’t overdo it.

Adult Coloring Tip #4: Avoid Black and White

Avoid Black and White in Adult Coloring


Black and white are useful colors for you to utilize when trying to make a piece more defined. It also helps make a scene look more dramatic. However, it is not the only way to achieve these effects. As much as possible, try not to rely on these colors when shading as it can really make your images look dull and boring when overused. Other colors can create more vibrant effects when used properly.

Use dark blues, purples, and indigo for richer shadows, and try yellow and gold for warmer highlights.

Adult Coloring Tip #5: Use Solvents

Using Solvents In Your Coloring


And no, not the drug kind. Choose a watercolor pencil with a similar texture to your regular colored pencils. These water-soluble colors work wonders for creating subtle shading effects. If you don’t have watercolor pencils, you can use solvents on your regular pencils to recreate the same effects.

There are plenty of available options out there, you just have to look carefully. Make sure to test the solvent on a separate piece of paper to see how it would react to your colors, before using it on your actual work.


Sarah on September 10 2017 at 06:01AM

Thank you so much for these tips! I mainly use colored pencils in my drawings but I barely knew how to use them before Lol but I should improve spectacularly now!

Gail on June 20 2017 at 05:24AM

Thank you for the helpful hints. I will be using them.

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