About Stippling

By Alina McKee
About Stippling

Stippling is a common art technique used to create shading and texture in their drawings, particularly line drawings. Stippling can be done with a wide variety of mediums, works well with printing techniques and can create optical illusions when done be a skilled artist. This information will help you understand the method of stippling and its uses.


Stippling is the use of dots to create shading and texture in painting and drawing. It is done by touching the art tool to the canvas or paper lightly enough to leave a single dot of medium. This process is repeated to create the desired affect. The dots will all be of the same color, usually black.


Though stippling is used by artist world-wide, the technique is particularly useful to artists that need to reproduce their illustrations in black and white print because it can be reproduced with only black ink. It is also superior to the shading technique called hatching because it doesn't use lines, making illustrations and drawings clearer.


Stippling can be done with a brush, pen or pencil. Ink pens and pencil is the most common tools used for stippling because they are easier to control. Paint often drips and runs, making the dots less precise. Stippling can also be done with crayons, conte crayons, charcoal and pastel.


The closer the dots, the darker the subject will be. This is handy for shading. To create a look of gradual shading, the artist only has to make the dots closer and closer as the lighting fades to get a shaded look. Stippling can also create the look of texture. If the dots are irregular in shape, this can make the object look rough.


This form of shading creates an optical illusion when don correctly. To the viewer, the shading will almost look like one smooth application of medium and the dots will only be obvious when viewed very closely. From far away no dots will be apparent.

About the Author

Since 1998 Alina McKee has written for dozens of traditional and online beauty, fashion, health and parenting publications including Pregnancy.org, Mama Health and Real Beauty. As a professional artist, her articles about these subjects have been used in magazines and websites around the globe. McKee has a diploma in fine art from Stratford Art School.