How to Make a Shading Stump

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Things You'll Need

  • 8 1/2-by-11-inch paper
  • Ruler
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Bamboo skewer
  • Pencil

Shading stumps, also known as blending sticks and tortillons, help artists create subtle transitions between light and shadow in their drawings. These paper sticks narrow to a tiny point, allowing the artists to blend different values in their work. Making your own shading stump saves you money, and allows you to control the size and weight of your stick. Narrow your tip to a finer point for detail work, or create dull, large tips from heavy paper.

Mark on your paper in pencil 1 inch below the top-left corner.

Make a second mark on your paper 1 inch above the bottom-right corner.

Draw a straight, diagonal line between these two marks, using a ruler as a guide.

Cut the paper along the diagonal line using the scissors. This forms two distorted triangular shapes that each possess two 90-degree corners.

Set one of the triangular shapes on your work surface, so the shorter 90-degree corner lies on the right side, and the longer 90-degree corner lies on the left.

Roll the paper from the short corner to create a narrow tube. Make this tube very narrow and tight.

Hold the tube tightly between your fingers, with the thickest end of the tube on the bottom.

Insert a bamboo skewer into the top of the roll. Use it to push the paper from the thick end of the tube out into a narrow tip.

Tightly roll the paper around the skewer to make the point as narrow as possible.

Wrap a piece of tape around the tube tightly, to hold in place.

Remove the bamboo skewer.


  • Practice saftey measures when using sharp objects like bamboo skewers and scissors.


About the Author

Based in Nashville, Deborah Walden has been writing professionally since 1997, starting as a sports writer for her college newspaper. Her articles have appeared in "Nashville Arts Magazine" and "The Nashville Scene," among other publications. Walden holds a Master of Arts in art history from Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images