This mandala shading exercise turned out so large that I’ve split in into two parts. This week I’ll give you the template, gradation stages, simple instructions, and a supply list so you can give it a try.
Next week, I’ll show you how I shaded the mandala step by step.
Mandalas are geometric designs that represent the universe, unity, and the sacred center to some, but I chose the form for this exercise because I think they’re pretty, and because shading one is a fun way to sharpen your drawing skills.
Gradations Create Three Dimensional Form
Although it may seem like you’re just filling in the template outline like a coloring book or a paint by number set, you’ll have first hand knowledge of these drawing skills when you’re done with this exercise:
How to make consistent gradations.
How to see and create value.
Precise pencil control practice.
See how value creates depth.
See how gradated value creates form.
(You can learn more about drawing gradations here.)
Don’t Jump In Too Soon – Sketch It First
The mandala’s gradations run in different directions and are confusing (ask me how I know), so I made a rough sketch of my mandala to get a better idea about how to draw them. Sketching it also gave me a clue about the grades of pencils I needed to use. I suggest that you start with a sketch too.
A pre-sketch will help you plot out and practice these things:
1. Direction of gradation.
2. Point where gradation ends.
3. Values (Learn more about value.)
4. Grade, or hardness, of pencils needed.
The Template – Gentle Draftsmanship Required
Trace The Outline
- Use B or HB pencil.
- Make the outline light. If it’s too dark, the outline won’t blend into the shading.
- Your tracing will be wobbly and need correction if you’re a human and not a robot, so clean it up afterward with French curves and a ruler.
Draw the outline gently. Trace it from the computer screen or print it and use a bright window as a back light for tracing, but however you do it don’t press too hard and dent the paper. If you do, the gradations will skip over those embossed lines and you’ll have a heck of a time getting rid of them. (Once again, ask me how I know!)
Don’t shade this way. These first images show you how the complete shading of each stage would look if it were the only stage. I’m showing you these so that you can see where the gradations begin and end, what shape they are, and how their angles and directions run.
Do shade the way. Here’s how each stage will look as you shade it in around the other parts of the mandala.
Here are the supplies I used:
Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Paper Pad
Canson Classic Cream Drawing Pad
Staedtler Mars Lumograph Pencils
Design Kneaded Rubber Erasers
Sakura Cordless Eraser
C-Thru Set of French Curves
Until next week, happy drawing!