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This post is part of a series called How to Draw Textures.
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This post is part of a series called Learn How to Draw.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Drawing is like magic—you can create many different surfaces using only a sheet of paper and a few pencils. But, just like magic, the whole process is not so easy to understand. 

In this new series of tutorials I will show you how to create various textures using the same tools. I will be using a simple cylinder as an example, but you can use the same process to draw the texture on every form.

Today, you'll learn how to draw wood!

What You Will Need

You will need the following things in order to complete this exercise:

  • Some sheets of paper
  • Hard pencil (HB)
  • Medium soft pencil (2B)
  • Soft pencil (5B)
  • Very soft pencil (8B)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Cotton swab/blending stump
  • Ruler (optional)

1. How to Draw a Log

Step 1

Define the width and length of the cylinder by drawing perpendicular lines with an HB pencil and a ruler, if you need it. The exact values are not important, but keep in mind that the bigger the drawing, the harder it is to keep the proportions right (but also the smaller it is, the fewer details you can use).

how to start a drawing

Step 2

Cross the upper and lower line with a short line to create the dimensions of an ellipse. The longer the line, the more rotated the cylinder. Use these lines to build identical ellipses on the top and bottom. Draw them lightly, and don't force yourself to draw the whole outline at one time.

how to draw a cylinder
Notice how light the lines are. You should barely see them, so that they can disappear after you add more details.

Step 3

Connect both ellipses with straight lines, parallel to the middle one.

how to draw a cylinder with pencils

Step 4

Draw more parallel lines between both ellipses, gradually decreasing the distance between them as you get away from the central line.

how to draw a cylinder in 3d

Step 5

Cross these lines randomly, creating diamond-like shapes in each band.

how to sketch tree bark

Step 6

Separate the log from its bark by adding a slightly smaller ellipse on top.

how to draw trunk

Step 7

Add more ellipses inside. They don't need to be perfect, so feel free to wave them a little.

how to draw woodgrain

Step 8

Create some distance between the shapes on the bark. Keep your hand loose, and don't draw them too precisely.

how to draw bark

Step 9

Draw more loose shapes within the already defined one. Shake your hand a little to make these shapes less planned and more natural.

how to draw realistic bark

Step 10

Time for the shading! Tilt your pencil a little and shade the inner ellipse on top. This is the core of the trunk.

how to shade woodgrain

Step 11

Take a 2B pencil and add some shade to the inner side of every ellipse in this area. Keep your pencil slightly tilted, and don't press too hard.

how to draw wood log

Step 12

Go back to the HB pencil and use the same method to shade the other ellipses. Then draw some random dots between them.

how to shade wood

Step 13

Take the 2B pencil again and shade the edge of the bark.

how to draw 3d bark

Step 14

Take a 5B pencil and add some crevices. The drier the wood, the more of them you can use. Don't draw the cuts straight—treat the ellipses as little "waves"

how to draw cuts in wood

Step 15

Take an HB pencil again and draw chaotic shapes on every element of the bark. Keep the pencil tilted for a more natural effect.

how to shade tree bark

Step 16

When you fill the areas, take a 2B pencil and continue.

how to use pencils for shading tree

Step 17

Take a 5B pencil and fill the crevices with it. You don't need to be precise—use the previous lines as a suggestion, not as exact guides. Feel free to add more crevices here and there.

how to draw a log

Step 18

Draw similar but flatter crevices on the bark. Then you can take an 8B pencil and use it to accentuate certain shadows.

how to draw a wooden log

2. How to Draw a Wooden Surface

Step 1

Start with a cylinder, just like before. If you want to practice a bigger variety of wooden surfaces, you can also "cut" a part of this cylinder. I also decided to make the edge softer and more polished.

how to draw a cut log

Step 2

Clean the redundant lines with an eraser to see the edges better.

how to draw a cylinder without a part

Step 3

Use an HB pencil to sketch the wood grain. Pay attention to the perspective. You don't need to be too careful about continuity of the lines—they won't be that visible later.

how to sketch woodgrain lines

Step 4

Tilt your pencil and give some shade to the inner side of the big pattern.

how to draw woodgrain with pencils

Step 5

Take your blending tool and soften the area. Then use the same pencil to darken the tighter part of the pattern.

how to shade wood

Step 6

Take a 2B pencil and tilt it, drawing some lines along the fibers.

how to draw wood fibers

Step 7

Use an eraser to "draw" brighter fibers between them.

how to draw with an eraser

Step 8

Use the same pencil to add some detail to the big pattern. Draw short, sharp lines all over the wood grain, and keep your pencil sharpened.

how to shade wood detailed

Step 9

Don't be afraid of going quite deep with your lines into that bright area in-between. Just make sure you keep some distance between the lines to keep them separate. Then take a 5B pencil and accentuate the tight fibers in darker areas.

how to add details to wood

Step 10

Use the same pencil to accentuate the lines in that big pattern as well.

how to draw wood texture

Step 11

Use various soft pencils to shade the cylinder as a whole to unify the pattern. Keep your pencil tilted, and don't press too hard to keep the pattern intact. Wood is quite bright inside, so be careful not too darken it too much. The 8B pencil should be used only in some crevices.

how to shade a woden cylinder
how to draw wooden surface

Good Job!

This is the start of a new series of tutorials on drawing a variety of textures, so stick with us. Which texture would you like to learn how to draw?

Want to learn more? Check out these:

how to draw wood texture
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