Blending Pencil Techniques

Blending Techniques with Pencil | How To Draw... Pencil Portraits A Step by Step Drawing TutorialIn the last part of our step by step drawing guide, we created a Shading Guide, and familiarised ourselves with the different shades we can create using different gradients. We are now going to use one of our shading guides to learn blending pencil techniques.

Blending is basically merging different shades together, so that each shade flows smoothly into the next creating a very soft and realistic tone. It is especially useful for fill colour and creating depth and texture which we will cover in the next and final part of Step 1.

Blending pencil is another controversial subject amongst pencil artists. There are many who believe the medium simply isn’t suited to blending, and such techniques should be left to pastel and charcoal artists. However, I am not one of them.

Blending the pencil is by far my favourite aspect of drawing. Get the technique right, and you can create some awesome pieces of pencil art.

Pencil Blending Tools

To blend pencil, you will need either a Blending Stump or a Tortillon. If you are not sure what these tools are, then you can read about them in Choosing Art Supplies.

Again, another debate within pencil drawing is whether or not to use your finger to blend. I say NEVER!

Your finger is rich in natural skin oils, and every time you touch the paper with your bare skin you are transmitting these oils to the surface of the paper and these oils will not let go of the graphite, almost acting like a glue. That’s not a good idea, because adding or taking away graphite to these areas then becomes a little tricky, and can compromise the whole piece!

It is for the same reason I suggest you use a piece of tissue to rest your wrist on whilst drawing in pencil. This will also minimise smudging.

I use a home-made tortillon or Blending Stump. You can save money on a Blending Tool right mow, by checking out my ‘Make Your Own Blending Stump In 60 Seconds Hack’ from the HTD Toolbox!

How To Blend Pencil

For this you will need

  • A completed Shading Guide from the previous drawing tutorial
  • A Blending Tool such as a Blending Stump or Tortillon

Blending Pencil Techniques | How To Draw... Pencil Portraits - A Step by Step Drawing TutorialTip; Using a small circular motion like scumbling with your blending tool helps to keep the blending nice and tight.

Holding your blending tool lower down and minimising pressure exerted on the tool can help gain a good control of this technique.

The diagram on the right demonstrates the motion you should make whilst blending.

Notice how the shading has now become very smooth.


Blending Pencil Techniques- How To Draw... Pencil Portraits- A Step by Step Drawing Tutorial1.) Using the small circular motion mentioned above, use your blending tool to blend the second block on your Shading Guide.

Don’t fret about going over the lines, and attempt to softly merge with block one.

Tip; It is important to note when shading, that you should always go from light to dark, as a lot of graphite can ‘stick’ to your blending tool, and will carry to the next shade or gradient.

Blending Pencil Techniques | How To Draw... Pencil Portraits-A Step by Step Drawing Tutorial2.) Now gently merge block two into block three, using the same circular motion, and ensuring the blending is kept very tight. You can increase the pressure slightly for each block.


3.) Repeat the above process for the remainder blocks, moving in the same circular motion and keeping the blend tight between blocks. You should now be left with something like this…

Blending Pencil Techniques | How To Draw.. Pencil Portrait-A Step by Step Drawing Tutorial

And that’s it! Easy, hey!

If your blending doesn’t look like it has merged nicely, and you can see a clear distinction between two blocks, then continue blending using the small circular motion. It will merge smoothly eventually, just have some patience with it and don’t put so much pressure on that you wear away the paper!

In the final parts of Step 1 of this Step by Step Drawing Tutorial, we will be using all the techniques we have learned up to now to look at how to create depth using 3D drawing.

Shading Techniques | Go BackCreate Depth with Pencil | Go To