What Are the Different Types of Stippling Techniques?

Ceilings are often stippled to create the appearance of texture with the paint.
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  • Written By: Kaiser Castro
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2015
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Stippling is a common technique used by artists in line drawings to create shading, textures, and shadows. Dotting, dashing, and tracing are common stippling techniques. Hatching and cross-hatching techniques can be used as two distinct ways of stippling, but are usually used together to create depth. Usually these techniques are used with a black pastel, pen, or crayon.

When used correctly, this form of shading creates the illusion of that the shading or texture is solid. Only when examined up close will the viewer see the dots and streaks that make up the stippling. Depending on the type of finish needed, an artist will usually use different stippling techniques for different results.

Dotting is a basic stippling technique. By applying different amounts of pressure on a pen or paint brush, different sized dots can be formed. Stronger pressure will increase the surface area on the tip of the pen, resulting in larger sized dots. An artist that uses this technique will typically have areas on the painting that are darker, which are usually made up of closely spaced dots. Lighter areas usually have fewer dots, creating a gradient effect.


Dashing is a modification of the dotting technique. By quickly flicking his or her wrist, an artist will be able to create small dashes. These types of stippling techniques are usually not used on paintings that require fine detailing, but it are an option for heavier, textured lines. Small linear shapes can represent movement in the painting. This technique is commonly used on glass, rocks, and other natural surfaces.

Tracing is an advanced technique that is used to create unique textures on paper. This is done by placing textured tinsel behind the paper; the paper is then lifted somewhat in different ways. By lightly brushing the brush, crayon, or pastel over this lifted surface, an artist can create unique textures and patterns. Applying light pressure will create more subtle designs, while aggressive rubbing can create distinct patterns.

Hatching and cross-hatching are techniques that can be used separately, but they are usually combined by most artists. The hatching technique is where small lines are drawn in a specific direction, creating a shading effect. Cross-hatching is where lines are drawn in the opposite direction, creating depth. These stippling techniques can be used in large or small areas of the canvas, and are commonly used to create shadows.


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