Gay Ann Rogers Needlework

Needlepoint Lessons






Needlepoint Lessons of Mine:

Lesson 6: An Easy Way to Add Highlights and Shadows



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Have you ever finished stitching a project and looked back at it and wished you could add a highlight or a shadow to an area? The advantage of a highlight is that it will bring an area forward; the advantage of a shadow is that it can make an area recede.


So here you are, finished with your project and you realize, if you had it to do over again, you would stitch in a slightly darker color here and a lighter color there, but now that you are finished, it is only wishful thinking. Or is it?


There are a couple of ways to add highlights and shadows after you have finished stitching. They're easy to do and once you know about them, my guess is that you will use the technique quite often.

Let's look at some easy stitches that I use quite often: Tent Stitch is one, Scotch Stitch  another. It is quite easy to add highlights or shadows to each of these. The trick is overstitching, not in the direction of the original stitch but in the opposite direction, as the graphs show.


Basic Scotch Stitch, on the left with no shadow, on the right with a shadow.

Above: Diagonal Tent Stitch with no shadow.

Below: with a shadow of overstitches added in the opposite direction.


Notice on the Scotch Stitch, the overstitches are the same length as the base stitches; if I overstitch with the same length as the base stitch, I don't interrupt the line of the base stitch.


Notice too that I have varied where I do the overstitching. By varying where I create the overstitches, I can vary the density of the shadow: spaced stitches make a lighter shadow, solid areas of overstitches make a denser shadow.


These are just two basic stitches to demonstrate the technique; you can use it with almost any stitch to add a bit of interest and depth.