Achieve Perfect Shading & Texture With Pointillism

Pointillism is a technique used to apply dots of various size and color to form an image. We can use pointillism with stamping to add shadow around an image, to add texture, create fur or curly hair, to simply add depth or to color an entire image.

Close-up of finished colored image

The idea is to use darker dots in shadow areas with lighter dots in highlight areas. It is also helpful to leave some areas uncovered as the white of the paper can create the brightest highlights.

Most any color medium can be used to achieve the pointillism technique. For this tutorial, I’ve used Copic markers.

Supplies used

Easy pointillism tutorial

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Image (I used digital image Faythe Flies by Tiddly Inks)
  • Copic compatible cardstock (I used X-Press It Blending Card)
  • Copic markers* (I used N0, N1, N3, E23, E25, E27, E29, Colorless Blender Pen)

*Only those colors used for the pointillism portion of this tutorial have been listed above.

Step 1 Stamp or print image onto white card stock

Step 1:

Print or stamp image onto white cardstock.

Step 2 Add dots of N0 around image

Step 2:

Using the lightest gray, N0, begin to add dots around the image. Decrease the dot size while moving farther away from the image.

Step 3 Add dots of N1 closer to image

Step 3:

Using next darker gray, N1, begin to add slightly smaller dots close to the image. Randomly add very small dots scattered farther away. This will help to create a “blend” of the various shades of dots.

Step 4 Add dots of N3 closest to image

Step 4:

Using darkest gray, N3, add small dots close to the image. While concentrating the darkest dots close to the image lines, be sure to “scatter” tiny dots farther away as in Step 3.

Step 5 Fill any areas as needed with N1 and N0

Step 5:

Return to N1 and/or N0 to “fill” any areas where additional dots may be needed.

Step 6 Use Colorless Blender to soften dots

Step 6:

Once satisfied with the dotted shading, color over the dotted area with the Colorless Blender. This will slightly soften the ink without losing the illusion of the dots. Doing so will also soften the outermost edges of dots, creating a soft blend into the surrounding paper.

Before adding color to hair, I always color the face/skin first. Here, I’ve used the two lighter browns, E23 and E25.

Step 7 Use E23 to dot hair

Step 7:

Before beginning, note any lines within the area that indicate shape. Close to the outer edges of the two ponytails, you will see a squiggled line indicating a rise or ripple in the hair. Use these “guides” to help in determining the placement of color. I left a bit of white just below the line to create a highlight. A shadow is created by concentrating darker color above the line. I also left a larger area of white to each side of the part in the hair to create dimension.

Using E23, begin to apply dots to hair. As the base color, the dots can be bigger than those created with the darker markers. Leave some areas white to create highlights.

Step 8 Use E25 to add shadow and depth

Step 8:

Moving to the next darker brown, E25, begin to add smaller dots, concentrating color in areas of shadow and around the face.

Step 9 Use E27 to define darker shadow areas

Step 9:

Using the next darker brown, E27, add very small dots, placing them closer together in areas of darkest shadow and around the face. Remember to scatter a few tiny dots randomly throughout to create depth.

Use E29 to add deepest shadow; finish card

Step 10:

If needed, return to E25 and E27.

Before finishing the card, I added just a bit more shadow and depth in the darkest areas with a darker brown, E29.

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