How to Draw: Metal Textures

with CONCEPTS: SMARTER SKETCHING

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In the spirit of learning, we thought we’d share some techniques for rendering finishes, to give your design sketches a bit more polish. Not that they need to be deep artistic works, but it helps to get your ideas across when you can find that great look. In this how-to, we’ll give your metal some sheen and texture.

If you touch the color palette and look at the inner circle, you’ll find these neutral tones arranged from cool to warm, from light to dark. The letters stand for Cool (C), Neutral (N), Toner (T) and Warm (W). Copic has a very helpful color guide here detailing their numbering system and gradients.

Choose a color similar to your metal choice to act as your base color. This will give an overall tone to your piece. Here are examples of bases for Aluminum in an N3. Each tool offers a different texture.

Go ahead and experiment with lighter and darker bases. As you add texture and highlights, the contrasting colors will add richness to your metal.

Next, select some new tones and textures to give your metal dimension. Add each tool and color into its own Layer for easy changes.

Your other friend is the Opacity slider. The Opacity level dictates how saturated or transparent your strokes will be. A lower opacity gives you a softer appearance and allows other colors and tools to show through.

The following example uses Filled Stroke as the base. A cool-tinted airbrush adds shine, a warmer-tinted marker adds some burnished texture. The details appear in order of layer, with color and opacity levels specified.

The next example shows the difference between a lighter base with a dark texture versus a darker base with a light texture.

The same technique done in copper shades:

If you have a pressure sensitive stylus (like an Adonit Pixel or Jot, or an Apple Pencil), you can create highlights with the weight of your touch, like in this marker base. Notice how a hint of background and foreground add subtle dimension to the final product.

Here are some other metals with textures you might use.

For a finishing touch, let’s add a design to our metal and make it into an etching.

Ready to try it on your own? Use these as examples, and enjoy finding your own finishes for your metal project design. We’d love to see your results in the comments!

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Written by Erica Christensen — writer | illustrator | designer at TopHatch.

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