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How to Draw a Rock's Surface

Updated on May 29, 2013

Even if You're One of Those People Who Thinks They have NO Artistic Talent... can easily learn how to draw a rock's surface.

I have been teaching people to draw for more than 40 years and I guarantee that this drawing tutorial is probably one of the easiest to master.

The reason I say this is because a rock does not really have a single identifiable surface. Rocks come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. That means that just about anyone can learn to draw a rock.

Now, you can pick up a rock just about anywhere. For this particular tutorial, I'm using a rock that I have laying around my studio. It's a small piece (about 2 inches long) of granite from Mount Evans in Colorado. I picked it up on one of my many trips to paint in the Colorado high country.

If you want to find a real life rock model, simply walk out your front door. Unless you live out in the middle of the ocean, you won't have to walk far to find a suitable rock.

For the purposes of our drawing tutorial, look for a rock that has lots of texture and rough-hewn surfaces. Smooth, rounded rocks are good as well but will likely not have a very interesting and varied surface texture.

So, if you have your rock-model, a sharpened pencil and some paper. let's begin this drawing tutorial...


Step 1: Draw the Basic Shape

OK, you really can't go wrong here. You may want to take a moment to study your rock and notice the shapes, lines, edges and textures. Remember, learning to draw is all about paying attention to details.

Draw the basic outline shape of the rock.

Next, draw in some lighter lines to indicate where the edges of the rock appear.


Step 2: Determine the Light Source

Don't let this step scare or confuse you. All we're going to do here is find out where the light is in relation to our rock.

The letters "LS" and arrow in my drawing indicate the position of the lamp (light source) and where the light is directed.

In my studio, I simply set up a lamp and placed my rock on a piece of clean, white paper. When you do this, you can see the textures and edges of the rock more clearly.


Step 3: Add Shading

Do you see those lines running from upper left to lower right on my drawing? Those light source lines show me that the areas on the rock closest to that light source will be lighter. So we will only add very light shading in those areas.

The lower right areas furthest from the light source are going to be in shadow. We will add darker shading there.


Step 4: Add a Drop Shadow

A drop shadow is simply the shadow that appears on the surface on which the rock is situated - in this case, on a sheet of white paper.

Noting the direction of the light source to determine where the drop shadow will appear, draw a simple outline. Next, fill in that outline with dark shading.

Your rock drawing should really be looking more realistic at this point.


Step 5: Add Surface Texture

This is the most fun part of the drawing. Simply take your pencil and let it wander around within the outline of your rock drawing.

Notice that I have also added some single marks, both large and small, to indicate texture.

You may also want to turn your pencil on it's side to get some real varied and interesting texture lines.


Final Step: Add a Background

Since rocks tend to be rather uninteresting, I wanted to add a background. This does several things for the drawing.

First, background shading can really enhance the light on the rock's surface. Notice the difference between this drawing and the drawing in the previous step. This background makes the rock appear brighter.

Backgrounds also establish a boundary for your drawing. In this case, I emphasized that aspect a little by adding a border line around the edges.

SO - how did your drawing turn out? I think you will agree that drawing a rock and getting that realistic look is a whole lot easier than drawing more complex items.

Remember, frustration is to be expected when learning how to draw a rock's surface - or any other item for that matter. The key is to turn that frustration around and channel that energy into drawing more. I guarantee that each drawing you do will look better than the last.

Good luck!



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    • MKayo profile image

      MKayo 4 years ago from Texas

      Wonder wool - You never know, give it a try. I really believe everyone has an innate ability for drawing. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out. Thanks for reading!

    • Wonder wool profile image

      Priyanka Estambale 4 years ago from United States

      this looks simple but I know it is going to take me ages to master it :)