A Whole Page of Textures! Did Paul Learn Anything?

Posted by pladd on February 18, 2016

Uh…kind of?

In my first post, I mentioned that I was working on a “dissections” exercise for drawing practice. Here’s the idea: you draw an arbitrary organic form (read: “a blob”), add contour lines to show the shape of that form in 3D space, and then add exterior and cross-section textures based on reference photos. These exercises serve three purposes:

  1. You end up studying how textures warp and change as they follow a 3D form.
  2. You start to build a mental “library” of textures that you can refer to later.
  3. You drive yourself insane.

The main reason for #3 is that every texture is SO DIFFERENT from every other texture. Drawing leather is different from drawing an orange is different from drawing bread or hair or a cranberry or anything, because of COURSE it’s different, because they are different damn objects, and that’s the whole point. But it means that as soon as you start to feel like you’re getting the hang of one texture WHOOPS it’s time to move on to a completely different one.

I just finished the first of two total pages. There are three dissections on the page. I attempted to apply a total of sixteen different textures. That’s sixteen cycles of “what no how do I do this, oh maybe this works, no, no it doesn’t, oh main wait this looks good OKAY TIME FOR SOMETHING NEW.”

After all of that, what better catharsis than to share the ride? Click here for a Big McLargeHuge version of the whole page, if you want all of the details.


Holy mother of yikes. Are you seeing this?

No, seriously. LOOK AT IT

So, obviously, mistake #1 was picking up a pen. Mistake #2 was applying said pen to paper. Mistakes 3 through 12! were all of the individual times I repeated mistake #2. That shit looks like a diagram you’d show to middle schoolers to warn them about STDs. Maybe I should change the label from “TENNIS BALL FUZZ” to “FLAGELLATED PROTOZOAN.”

As for the rest of the dissection, I feel like I did alright on the fish scales, potato skin, and raw meat. The silhouette of the fish scales looks more like hair than scales, and I think I tried too hard to “fade” the texture around the edges. A better technique, as I learned later, is to leave entire areas of the texture blank. If done properly, the viewer’s brain can fill in the missing spots.

The pineapple cross-section is just too small to capture much detail, and I think I should have focused more on the shapes formed by the shading instead of trying to capture the shading itself. This is a mistake I will repeat too many times.

Attempting to draw a metal shear fracture was sheer (hah!) madness. How do you convey dull, bumpy broken metal with a pen? You don’t, especially if your name is Paul and this is your FIRST DAMN DISSECTION.


Hey, look! It’s our old friend, Leather! How’s it going, bud? Ha ha you are the worst and I hate you.

The only new thing here is that I tried to do more of an “implied” texture to the right of the detailed leather texture, using open space and detailed sections to show the texture without filling in the whole area. It still didn’t work all that well, but I think it was worth the effort.

I’m really happy with how I captured the sectional shape of the orange through the exterior indentations, the interior “star” shape, and the light lines radiating out. I’m less happy with the sesame seeds desperately masquerading as orange flesh.

This is either an onion or yet another STD warning. I was trying to capture the glistening of the tiny beads of moisture on the inside of an onion, and instead I got that classic “my kid dumped the glitter bottle on his macaroni painting” look.

Whoa hold the phone what is this. I think…I think these two actually came out good. They’re good! I like them! I’m satisfied with something I drew! This is a good example of the whole “leave parts of the texture blank” idea. If I had continued the log rings all around the entire circle, it could have distracted from the large vertical split at the bottom. As it is, your eyes have a chance to rest from all the noise of the rings before parsing the split.

The metal looks shiny, which is what I wanted. Gold star, Paul.


Eeeenyh. I have mixed feelings about this one. Case in point: the coconut sections. On the exterior, I managed somehow to combine too much detail with not enough detail. The real coconut has large, clearly distinguishable hairs atop a thick matting of smaller hairs. In trying to convey the smaller hairs, I obscured the larger hairs. The surface overall looks rough and hairy, but it just doesn’t get “coconut” across.

Similarly, the interior has some details that I’m happy with, like the clear cleavage lines where the coconut flesh split. Yay! Unfortunately, those lines get crowded out by the shading on the far side of the coconut. Boo. Also, I think I managed to draw the contour lines on the interior in exactly the wrong way to show a concave sphere.

The cranberry kind of looks like a cranberry, or possibly a button.

Bread! It kind of looks like bread! My main issue here is the large, dark lines I used when I was first trying to draw the bubbles inside the bread. They stand out starkly from the subtler hatched bubbles that I started using later in the drawing. I think the dog fur looks pretty good, though. Furry, soft, and entirely out of place on the bread.

Whew. Just one full page left to go! Ha! Ha ha! Hahahahhahehahhahhhahehahhahhahh why am I doing this to myself.