Here’s an exercise that shows you how to draw organic shapes with hatching gradations and your imagination. This technique creates a fissured surface that can be used for rocks or a cracked desert floor at a distance, fungus or reptile scales at close range, and lots of other things that your imagination will come up with once you know how to create it.
You’ll need a 4B and a 2B pencil, a kneaded eraser, and a medium rough drawing paper.
To make flattened pencil tips, run the pencil back and forth over paper until the lead wears down and it’s width is you want. A flat tip makes a grainy texture, and it’s fairly easy to make an even tone with one too.
1. Sphere With Nodule Shapes
Using a 4b pencil with a wide flattened tip, hatch a round shape. (This one is about three inches wide.)Keep the hatching even by using the same pressure on the pencil. Then divide the circle into smaller shapes that will become nodules.
2. Sphere Shading And Nodule Lines
Still using the 4B, add shading to the larger round shape by gradating inward from the edges.Then darken and widen the nodule shape lines.
Make them dark, but don’t press so hard that you crush the grain of the paper.
The circle with arrows represents the simple lighting I used for my drawing. The gradation is darkest at the outer edge of the sphere and ends at the smaller circle near the center.
3. Shaded Nodules
Switch to a 2B with a flat but slightly smaller tip. Now gradate the edges of the nodule lines and blend them into the hatching.
The harder lead and smaller tip fills in the places that the softer lead missed and darkens the hatch.
4. Deeper Three Dimensional Form
You could use the last step as a finished form, but if you want to make the drawing look even more three dimensional, lift out highlights with a kneaded eraser.
Pinch the eraser into a rounded point shape and gently tap the drawing with it to lift out highlights.
Don’t rub to erase or you’ll change the texture.
Make the highlights lighter as they reach the brightest part near the center of the sphere.
This follows the pattern of the first overall shading added in step two and makes each nodule look like it’s part of the larger sphere.
You can easily erase too much of the shading carefully created in the first steps, so take it easy and pull back to see how you’re doing often.
If you do erase too much, hatch it back with the 2B pencil and a very light touch.
You can take out dark blotches or even out the tone with taps of the eraser too, but they’ll probably need retouching.
Food For The Imagination
You can create a range of nodule shapes by varying gradations.
For example, this drawing has both rounded and flat nodules. The round ones were made with long gradations and small-ish highlights lifted from the middle, and the flat looking nodules are hardly gradated at all.
Now go draw something that looks like it lives under a rock. :)
Here’s the paper I used for this exercise at my affiliate, Dick Blick. I’m using it for my own drawing you see above too.
Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Paper – It’s an inexpensive paper that holds up well to all kinds of drawing and erasing techniques. It has a slightly rough surface that doesn’t allow fine detail, but it makes a organic looking texture that goes down quickly. It’s a slightly off-white cream color that looks good under graphite.