Sketch A Pine Cone

This hatching technique adds and subtracts from a middle value. It’s a great technique that you can use to draw nearly anything.

Pine Cone Sketch


2H, HB, and 2B pencils

Kneaded eraser

Tuff Stuff Stick eraser. (Retractable eraser.)

Smooth drawing paper. (Strathmore 400 series smooth or medium drawing paper.)

I like to start a sketch with the “middle” value so I can lift out highlights and hatch in shadows to create the shape and texture.

Sometimes I use a value scale to find the lightest highlights and darkest shadows and then decide on a value in-between those extremes. Sometimes I just squint my eyes to see an averaged value and use that.

Pine Cone Hatches

Pine Cone Hatches

Then I make hatches with different pencils to see which one makes the middle value without too much pressure. The hatch on the left was made with an HB pencil and the other with a 2B.

For this drawing, I decided to use an HB pencil.

Pine Cone Mid-Tone Hatch

Pine Cone Mid-Tone Hatch

Line Drawing and First Hatching

I measured the length and width with my pencil and drew the main shape. Using an overhand grip, I used the side of the pencil to add hatching in the middle value I chose.

Since this was an opened cone, I used a kneaded eraser to remove “bites” from both edges to represent the opened scales. I placed them at about the right points with about the right spacing, but didn’t try to be exact.

Pine Cone With Erased Highlights

Pine Cone With Erased Highlights

Erased Highlights

Using a kneaded eraser shaped into a big rounded shape, I lifted out the general highlight shapes with a firm tapping motion.

Again, I was not very precise but I did try to match the placement, pattern, and size of the scales. (Largest scales in the middle and smaller at both ends.)

Pine Cone Hatched Shadows

Pine Cone Hatched Shadows

Hatched Shadows

I used the side of a 2B pencil to define scales and hatch in shadow around each. The value pattern of each scale was basically the same. There was a “sharp” highlight line on the tip of each scale that graduated into darker shadow as it angled back into the cone

I added the cast shadow underneath the cone with the side of a 2H pencil.

Pine Cone With Refined Details

Pine Cone With Refined Details

Refined Shadows and Highlights

To make the scale edges look sharper or more defined, I used a writing grip to draw a firm line around each tip. Then I graduated that line into the shadow cast on the scale in the next layer down.

The left side of the cone was in shadow so I darkened it with light hatching made with the side of a 2H pencil.

I placed a kneaded eraser (pinched into a rounded wedge shape) on the tip of each scale and lightly pulled it into the shadow.

Then I used a stick eraser (cut into a wedge) to do the same thing.

These last two moves sharpened the highlights and made the tips “stand up” three dimensionally.


Sketching is an abbreviated form of drawing. Concentrate on the most important parts of the drawing first, and then add detail as time allows. Start with a middle value to ensure that you’ll at least have an averaged value in place if you run out of time.

Most important qualities to capture:

  1. Shape. (With a quick proportional line drawing or hatching.)
  2. Averaged value. (Squint eyes to see.)
  3. Biggest highlights and shadows.
  4. Details as time allows.