Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Single colour shading

This month we are enjoying the different effects that can be achieved by stitching in a single colour. I wanted to share with you something I find quite tricky- achieving shading in stitching.

I've been trying out different techniques for creating shadows using single colour stitches.In the top circle I made lines of back stitch following the curve of the sphere. The bottom right sphere is cross hatching using a back stitch and the bottom right is seed stitches. I think the small seed stitches (bottom right) work best - and it was the easiest to do! 
I liked how I could create a darker patch of shade using cross-hatching but found it difficult to decide which area should be darker. I'm sure this would be easier with a less uniform shape.  I think each of the above techniques provide plenty of scope to achieve different effects by varying the number of strands used or the distance between the stitches.

There are lots of places you can go for inspiration when it comes to single colour shading - I found some great examples in the Illustration Stitch Along group including this wonderful piece by Murder Bird that has several different shades achieved using just black thread. 
Prints and etchings often use cross-hatching and repeated lines to great effect, and when I see the shadows created by the use of line in graphic novels and book illustrations, I'm always itching to get my needle and thread out!

How do you like to create shading in your stitching? We'd love to hear about your techniques and don't forget to share your photos in the &Stitches Flickr group.


  1. To help decide which areas should be darker, check out a basic drawing class or tutorial on drawing spheres & other forms. It will help you see where the lighting is coming from, how to use gradations to create the appearance of curves & other helpful tips. The spheres you stitched are pretty good for just trying freehand, & would be the first shape a drawing instructor would have you work at in a class. More complicated shapes build on what you learn from doing simpler shapes - just combining flats and spheres - so starting simple is the best way to go.

    Nice blog, thanks.


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