Texture Drawing Guide

Updated: 08 Aug 2022

Texture drawing examples with graphite pencils

For a drawing to be successful, you have to be accurate in both structure AND brightness values.

You can learn about it here: how to draw realism.

To take your drawing to the next level, you need realistic textures.

Holes & Cracks

We love them! They are part of the abstraction of nature, and therefore attest to realism.

To draw ANY crack or hole, first decide where you want its deepest part.

The deepest part is the darkest.

Then, draw a transition from dark to light in the opposite direction.

Tip:

In many cases, the darkest part has a hard (sharp) edge, due to overlapping.

How to draw cave entrance

The same goes for any crack, at any direction.

How to draw cracked wood

Ambient Occlusion

When an object is NOT facing the light source, it is still visible and clear.

The reason is ambient light. Meaning, scattered light and reflections.

A tissue box

On the other hand, light cannot get into some areas.

The term for these areas is ambient occlusion.

A box with parts that have ambient occlusion

When drawing these areas (ambient occlusion) pay attention to edges. In many cases, they have soft edges, but in some cases, they have hard edges.

Cracks and holes are a type of ambient occlusion, though they are wider, and therefore there is a transition in brightness values.

In the next example, I overemphasized the parts between wood boards.

A birdhouse drawing with a tree swallow bird Birdhouse and a tree swallow bird

Keep in mind:

I drew the birdhouse from imagination, using linear perspective.

If you are new to perspective, visit my guide on linear perspective for beginners.

Wood Texture

The texture lines are NOT the problem. They are easy to draw!

Make sure the lines are not parallel.

Lines are not parallel when drawing wood texture

And, that they are not of uniform thickness.

Wood texture does not have uniform thickness

Pay attention:

When drawing a shadow area, it is NOT enough to make that area darker.

Make sure both the texture, and any crack, are darker in that area.

Texture is darker in shadow areas

For realistic wood texture, after drawing the texture lines, the structure should be accurate (in perspective), and the brightness values should be correct.

Realistic drawing of a snowy egret standing on wood Snowy egret

Metal Texture

The key to drawing metal objects is to be brave with contrast, depending on how shiny the metal is.

That is, a significant difference between dark and light brightness values.

Examples for drawing metal textures

Note:

When drawing light and dark areas, connect them with less defined (or soft) edges.

You can use smoothing tools, like a synthetic brush or a blending stump, to soften edges.

Blending stump and a synthetic brush for smoothing edges

Remember:

While solid objects (like metal) have hard edges, cast shadows have soft edges.

Drawing of a laughing gull on a metal fence Laughing gull on a metal fence

Plastic Texture

Plastic, usually, does not have texture. It is quite smooth.

Additionally, it does not have strong highlights or strong contrast, except for special cases.

In the example below, I drew some small stains for texture.

Graphite drawing of black and white chess pawns Black & white chess pawns

When it comes to plastic, which has a smooth surface, I use extra smooth paper (Bristol).

Pencil drawing of an inflatable flamingo Inflatable flamingo

To learn more about the equipment I use, check out my drawing materials guide.

Composition Tip

Objects by themselves are quite boring.

By using the power of overlapping, meaning an object that covers part of another object, you can add a sense of depth to your drawing.

Overlapping pine trees graphite drawing

When the structure for your drawing is ready, and it has a nice composition, it is time for texture drawing.

You can mix as many textures as you like.

A graphite drawing of a chair overlapping a table

Here you can learn more about composition drawing for beginners.

Fabric Texture

In some cases, I use the paper tooth for drawing texture.

It is great for fabric.

Pay attention to brightness values, meaning the darker and lighter parts of each fold.

Examples for fabric texture drawing

Fabric is soft, and therefore has soft edges within its surface.

You can use a smoothing tool, like a blending stump, to smooth the edges.

A blending stump is great for fast results. For more accuracy, smooth with your pencil while drawing.

Pencil drawing of a hat on pink paper Blending stump for smoothing

Summary

Now that you know how to draw some textures, it is time to put it to the test.

Visit my guide on drawing from imagination to create your own artworks, and enrich them with textures.

To be a successful artist, you need both knowledge and brush mileage (practice, practice, practice).

Here are 15 ways to draw depth.

In addition, you can find many tutorials in my list of top YouTube drawing channels.