Shaded Mandala Drawing Exercise – Part Two

For part two of this exercise, I’ll show you how I shaded my mandala. If you’re going to try for very smooth looking shading like I used, it could take you a while. Try splitting it into a couple of sessions if you get fatigued, because there’s no reason to stress yourself when you’re practicing. Finding time for drawing is hard enough as it is!

This is an excellent draw-in-front-of-tv or couch-drawing exercise. My friend coined the phrase “couch-drawing,” which rolls off the tongue easier than the other, but both of them mean the same thing. This is a casual kind of drawing that lets you sit with the whole family or in front of the tv while you practice. It takes away the pressure of “I must draw perfectly” and it helps you find more drawing time too.

Shine A Light On Value

The darkest points in the gradations are supposed to be a No. 10 (darkest) on a value scale. All of the gradations merge into white (or No. 1 on the value scale) except for the mandala’s outer rim which only makes it about half way to white, or to a No. 5 value.

Start Here

I didn’t start with the outer rim shapes, but I should have. If you shade those parts first, you’ll know what a 10 value and a 5 value look like on your paper using your hatching technique, and then you can relate the rest of the hatching to them. (In other words, it makes the rest of the shading easier.)

Hard Over Soft For Smooth Dark Hatching

You can make hatching look much smoother by going over it with a harder pencil lead. The harder pencil adds some value itself, but it also acts like a blender and pushes the softer lead into the grain of the paper more evenly making the value smooth looking and quite a bit darker.

The sharper the pencil points are, the darker the hatching will be.

You don’t have to use smooth shading on your mandala though. As long as you keep the shading consistent, even very rough hatching should look fine.

Outer Rim

Outer Rim Shading 1

Outer Rim Shading 1

Here’s How I drew the gradation in the outer rim shapes:

Filled darkest part with softest pencil (4B) to nearly a 10 value.

Filled lightest part with a medium hard pencil (B) to about a 5 value.

Outer Rim Shading 2

Outer Rim Shading 2

Filled the middle part with the medium soft (2B) pencil.

Outer Rim Shading 3

Outer Rim Shading 3

Then I darkened and smoothed the shading with the hardest pencil (2H).

Remember: The trick to drawing the gradations in this mandala is to work each piece as if it’s part of a larger whole. For instance, the arced shading of the outer rim shapes are part of a larger circular gradation.

Largest Square Shading 1

Largest Square Shading 1

The gradation on the largest square was made with 4B, 2B, B, and 2H pencils.

I used the same technique but added the 2H to make the lightest part of the hatch.

Notice that the angles run horizontal to the edges and lighten as they near each one.

Largest Square Shading 2

Largest Square Shading 2

Here’s the hatch smoothed with harder leads (2H and B) hatched over softer leads.

Leaf Shape Angle And Shading

Leaf Shape Angle And Shading

To help see how the gradation on the leaves are angled to fit into a box shape, I drew the box for you here. I used 4B, 2B, B, and 2H pencils for this gradations, and used the 2H and B to smooth them.

Small Square Shading

Small Square Shading

The small boxes are tricky. Their gradations are arced, with the darkest point in the outer corner.

Since this gradation was short, I just used the 2B, B, and 2H pencils.

Fully Shaded Mandala

Fully Shaded Mandala

And here’s my fully shaded mandala.

Different Ideas To Try

You don’t have to use these exact values, or the same hatching technique, or even the same medium to shade this mandala if you don’t want too. Here are a few different ideas to experiment with.

  • Pen and ink stippling or cross hatching.
  • Pen and ink stippling with color washes.
  • Colored pencils using colors of different values to create depth.
  • This would make an interesting texture experiment too. You could make different textures with hard and soft pencils, see which texture stands out the most and the least, and then combine them in the way that creates the best illusion of depth.

Happy Drawing!



About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing (and drawing) this website since 1999.
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One Response to Shaded Mandala Drawing Exercise – Part Two

  1. Eve says:

    Thanks <3

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