For oil and acrylic painting, scumbling is a technique to drag a lighter colour over a darker one, where the lighter colour is more opaque. A realistic shadow should be thin, insubstantial, free of significant reflections and bear nothing in particular for your eye to rest upon. The mid tones and highlights are opposite to this. Highlights should be opaque and solid. Scumbling is used to link the two areas of paint.
Obviously, scumbling has a more limited meaning for a graphite drawing but we can exploit the same idea in the following way: Shadows in your drawing will saturate the paper so that little or no tooth shows, and the tone will be flat an uninteresting - just as a shadow should be. The highlights will probably consist of harder graphite, more defined pencil marks, and texture both deliberately drawn and inherited from the paper's tooth. For a graphite drawing, you can use a scumbling technique to join these two areas. Try honing a wooden pencil to a cone-shape and use the flat of the cone to bring the darks into the lights. To do this, hold the pencil at a shallow angle so it has maximum area contact, and gently drag it from dark to light. You can then adjust this effect by using various grades of pencil with a smooth wedge shape to introduce the shadowed area into the highlight. It is important to gradually increase the tone and detail as the transition completes from dark to light.
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
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spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.