10 Surreal Shading Techniques for Mixed Media Art
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Apply Shaded Lines Technique
  2. Use Tonal Shading Technique
  3. Try Hatching Technique
  4. Experiment with Cross-Hatching Technique
  5. Implement Stippling Technique
  6. Practice Contour Shading Technique
  7. Explore Blend Shading Technique
  8. Employ Scumble Shading Technique
  9. Utilize Scribble Shading Technique
  10. Execute Pointillism Shading Technique

When it comes to creating mixed media art, the world is your canvas, and surrealism is the language that allows your imagination to run wild. One of the most enchanting aspects of surrealism is the shading techniques used to create depth and dimension in the artwork. In this blog, we're going to explore 10 surrealism shading techniques in mixed media art that will bring an extra dose of magic to your creations. Ready to dive in? Let's start.

Apply Shaded Lines Technique

First on our list is the Shaded Lines Technique. This method is as simple as it is effective, perfect for those who are starting their journey into the world of surrealism shading techniques in mixed media art. Here's how you can apply it:

  1. Choose your tool: You can use anything from a basic pencil to a charcoal stick, or even a fine liner. The key is to have something that you can control easily.
  2. Draw your lines: Start by drawing a series of parallel lines across your surface. Remember, these lines don't have to be straight. In fact, the more varied they are, the more dynamic your artwork will be.
  3. Add some shade: Here's where the magic happens. By varying the pressure you apply on your tool, you can create different levels of darkness, adding depth and dimension to your art piece.
  4. Blend: If you want a smoother look, you can blend your lines with a smudging tool or your finger. This will help create a seamless transition between the different shades.
  5. Repeat: This technique works best when it's done in layers. So, don't be afraid to go over your lines several times until you achieve the desired effect.

And there you go! With the Shaded Lines Technique, you're well on your way to mastering surrealism shading techniques in mixed media. Remember, practice makes perfect. So, take your time and enjoy the process. After all, creating art is all about expressing yourself and having fun.

Use Tonal Shading Technique

Next up, let's tackle the Tonal Shading Technique. Now, this technique is a game-changer when it comes to adding realism to your surrealistic mixed media art. Want to know how it works? Let's get into it:

  1. Identify your light source: Before you start shading, you need to decide where your light is coming from. This will inform where your highlights and shadows will be.
  2. Create a value scale: This is a series of boxes that transition from light to dark. It’s helpful to refer to when you're shading. You can create this on a separate piece of paper and keep it handy.
  3. Start shading: Begin with your lightest tones and gradually work your way to the darker tones. Remember, patience is key here. Take your time and slowly build up your shades.
  4. Blend your tones: Use a blending tool or your finger to smooth out the transitions between your different tones. This will give your artwork a more polished look.
  5. Refine your artwork: Once you've got your basic shading down, it's time to refine. This might mean adding some more highlights, deepening your shadows, or even adding some texture.

And that's all there is to it! By using the Tonal Shading Technique, you can create stunning pieces of surrealistic mixed media art that have depth, dimension, and a touch of realism. It may take a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but once you do, you'll be amazed at the results!

Try Hatching Technique

Alright, let's continue our journey into surrealism shading techniques in mixed media with the Hatching Technique. This technique is all about using parallel lines to create shades and tones—sounds simple, right? But the true magic lies in how you use it. So, let's hatch a plan:

  1. Pick your tool: You can use anything that makes a mark—pen, pencil, charcoal, you name it. The key is to feel comfortable with your tool of choice.
  2. Draw parallel lines: Here's where the technique gets its name. Start by drawing a series of parallel lines. Keep them close together for darker areas and spread them out for lighter areas.
  3. Control your pressure: The weight of your lines also affects the darkness of your shading. Press harder for darker tones and lighter for brighter areas.
  4. Add more layers: If you want to deepen the shading, simply add another layer of parallel lines. But this time, change the direction. This is often called cross-hatching, a close cousin of hatching.
  5. Experiment with line length and curvature: Not all lines have to be straight and of the same length. Try varying them to add more texture and interest to your art.

See? With the Hatching Technique, you are not just shading; you are also adding texture and depth to your surrealistic mixed media art. This technique is a testament to the idea that simplicity can lead to profound results. So why not give it a try?

Experiment with Cross-Hatching Technique

Next in our surrealism shading techniques in mixed media journey, we're going to get a little cross—cross-hatching, that is. This technique takes the hatching method and turns it up a notch. It is all about crisscrossing lines to bring your surrealistic art to life.

  1. Start with hatching: Just as we discussed in the hatching technique, begin by drawing parallel lines. This forms the base layer of your shading.
  2. Get cross: Now, draw another set of parallel lines over your first, but change the direction. This gives a cross-hatched effect. The more you cross your lines, the darker the shading will be.
  3. Play with angles: Your crossed lines don't always have to be perpendicular. You can experiment with different angles to create unique effects and textures in your artwork.
  4. Play with line variations: Use varied line lengths, curvatures, and spacing for a more organic, less mechanical look. This can add a lively touch to your surrealistic creations.
  5. Consider the light source: Remember to consider where your light source is coming from. This will guide where your heaviest shading (the most crossed lines) should be.

There you have it—cross-hatching, a sure-fire way to add depth, tone, and texture to your surreal pieces. And the best part? There's always room for experimentation. So, why not get a little cross and see where your creativity leads you?

Implement Stippling Technique

Now let's turn our attention to another interesting shading technique in the realm of surrealism shading techniques in mixed media: the stippling method. Stippling involves creating a series of tiny dots to represent light and shadow. It's a technique that might seem simple at first glance, but with patience and practice, can create truly breathtaking effects.

  1. Start small: Begin with a small area of your artwork. You'll be creating lots of tiny dots, so it's easier to manage a smaller space to start with.
  2. Dot away: Use your chosen tool to start making dots on your medium. The closer the dots are together, the darker the area will appear. Conversely, the further apart the dots are, the lighter the area will appear.
  3. Patience is key: Remember, stippling is a time-consuming process. It's not about speed, but rather the careful placement of each dot. Don't rush it. Take your time and enjoy the process.
  4. Consider the big picture: While you're focused on each individual dot, don't lose sight of your overall design. Every so often, take a step back and see how your shading is shaping your overall piece.

Stippling is an art in patience and precision. It may require more time and focus than other shading techniques, but the payoff can be immense. The texture and depth achievable with stippling are unmatched, making it a top choice for many who dabble in the surreal. So why not give it a try? You might just find that the world of dots opens up a new dimension in your mixed media surrealism art.

Practice Contour Shading Technique

Moving on to another fascinating shading method in the world of surrealism shading techniques in mixed media: contour shading. This method is all about understanding and replicating the way light interacts with the shape and surface of an object. It's like drawing an imaginary topographical map on your artwork to show how the light falls and fades.

  1. Observe and Analyze: The first step in contour shading is observation. Take a good look at your subject, real or imagined, and notice how light plays on its surface. Which parts catch the light? Which parts are cast in shadow?
  2. Light and Dark: Start by marking the lightest and darkest areas in your artwork. This will serve as your guide when you begin shading, helping you to maintain a sense of balance and contrast.
  3. Follow the Form: When you start shading, remember to follow the form of your subject. Your shading lines should conform to the shape of the object, helping to emphasize its three-dimensionality.
  4. Blend it Out: To make sure your artwork doesn't appear too harsh or flat, always blend your shading. This will create a smoother, more natural transition from light to dark.

Contour shading is a great method to add depth and perspective to your surrealism artwork. It might take a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but once you do, you'll see your art come to life in a way you never thought possible. Ready to take your mixed media surrealism art to the next level?

Explore Blend Shading Technique

Now, let's dive into the world of the blend shading technique, a true game changer in surrealism shading techniques in mixed media. Blend shading might seem a little tricky at first, but it's worth the effort for the level of depth and realism it can bring to your artwork.

  1. Lay Down Your Base: Start by sketching your subject lightly and then lay down your base shades. Remember, this is just the start, so it's okay if it doesn't look perfect yet.
  2. Gradual Shading: Gradually add more layers of shading, making sure to press harder on the pencil for the darker areas. The key here is patience; the best results come from a slow build-up of tone.
  3. Blend, Blend, Blend: Once you've added your layers of shading, it's time to blend. You can use a tissue, a blending stump or even your finger to smooth out the pencil lines and create a gradient effect. This is where the magic happens!
  4. Details and Highlights: After blending, you can go back in and add details or highlights. Use an eraser to lift off some of the pencil for highlights, and a sharp pencil to add crisp details.

Blend shading is a fantastic technique to bring a sense of depth and volume to your surrealism mixed media artwork. It's a skill that takes time and practice to master, but once you've got it, it's like having an extra tool in your artist's toolbox. So, are you ready to give blend shading a try?

Employ Scumble Shading Technique

Let's move on to another fascinating method in our list of surrealism shading techniques in mixed media: the scumble shading technique. Unlike blend shading, scumble shading gives a more textured, grainy look to your artwork. It's like the rebellious sibling in the shading technique family—perfect for experimenting with surrealism.

  1. Keep it Light: The secret to successful scumble shading is keeping your touch light. Pressing too hard with your pencil will give a different effect—more like regular shading rather than the unique texture we're after with scumble shading.
  2. Go Random: With scumble shading, you want to create a random, scribbly effect. To do this, make small, circular motions with your pencil. There's no need for precision here, let loose and get a little messy!
  3. Layering is Key: Start with a light layer of scumbling and gradually add more layers to darken the tone. Remember, you can always add more, but it's hard to take away if you go too dark too soon.
  4. Experiment with Colors: Scumble shading isn't just for graphite pencils. Try using colored pencils or even pastels to add a new dimension to your surrealism mixed media artwork. Who knows what amazing effects you might discover?

Scumble shading might seem a bit unconventional at first, but that's what makes it so fun and perfect for surrealism. It allows for a great deal of freedom and experimentation—two things that any mixed media artist will surely appreciate. So, are you ready to scumble your way to a unique piece of art?

Utilize Scribble Shading Technique

Moving forward, let's dive into the scribble shading technique—one of the most playful surrealism shading techniques in mixed media. You may think scribbling is something you left behind in kindergarten, but it's actually an effective way to add texture and depth to your artwork. Let's see how you can master it.

  1. Embrace Your Inner Child: Remember when you used to scribble as a child? It's time to channel that energy again. Be random and let your hand move freely across the paper. The more natural your scribbles, the better the texture.
  2. Control Your Pressure: The intensity of your scribbles will depend on the pressure you apply. Light pressure will create a softer, more subtle texture, while heavy pressure will create a bold, noticeable texture. Play around with different pressures to see what works best for your artwork.
  3. Layer Your Scribbles: Just like with scumble shading, layering is important with scribble shading too. Start with a light layer of scribbles and slowly add more layers to achieve the desired tone and texture.
  4. Try Different Tools: Don't limit yourself to just pencils. Exploring scribble shading with different mediums like charcoal or markers can open up a whole new world of possibilities for your surrealism mixed media artwork.

The scribble shading technique is a beautiful reminder of how something as simple as scribbling can transform into a powerful tool in the hands of an artist. So, ready to bring out your pencils and start scribbling?

Execute Pointillism Shading Technique

What if we told you that you can create a whole world of surreal shades and textures with just dots? Yes, you heard it right. Pointillism, a technique that involves applying tiny dots to create an image, is a unique and exciting addition to surrealism shading techniques in mixed media. Let's get to know this technique better:

  1. Start Small: If you're new to pointillism, it's best to start with smaller pieces. A small canvas will help you get the hang of the technique without feeling overwhelmed. It's all about patience, and starting small will help you build that.
  2. Use the Right Tools: Fineliner pens are a popular choice for pointillism because they offer precision. However, you can also use other mediums like colored pencils or paint. Just make sure your tool can make fine, precise dots.
  3. Create Depth with Dots: The key to achieving depth with pointillism is varying the size and spacing of your dots. Closer, larger dots create darker areas, while smaller, more spaced-out dots create lighter areas.
  4. Experiment with Colors: Who said pointillism has to be monochrome? Feel free to experiment with different colors. When viewed from a distance, colored dots can blend together to create a new color—a fun optical illusion to play with!

Pointillism might be time-consuming, but the results can be stunning. So, are you ready to dot your way to a surrealism masterpiece?

If you're fascinated by surreal shading techniques and want to delve deeper into the world of surreal art, don't miss Andrea Orejarena's workshop, 'Intro to Surreal Art.' This workshop will introduce you to the intriguing world of surrealism and provide you with the foundation to develop your own unique mixed media art pieces.