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How to draw smoke with a pencil

Updated March 23, 2017

Drawing smoke in one of your sketches isn't difficult, but giving it the shading and texture necessary to make it appear realistic can offer a challenge. To draw smoke, you have to capture something that is almost elusive in quality. Using a variety of shading and texturing techniques, it is possible to recreate this elusive subject on paper.

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  1. Draw a light outline of the smoke pattern you want to create. Start in the centre of your paper and draw a cloudlike pattern. Keep in mind that smoke isn't perfect, so add a few thin, curled lines rising from this pattern to give the illusion of curls of smoke drifting from the cloud.

  2. Sketch random lines throughout your smoke cloud that will give it texture. Some of these lines will be squiggly and others will be curved.There isn't a set number of these lines to draw, but they should be distributed throughout your cloud.

  3. Colour your smoke. This can be the tricky part. Use colour pencils. Apply a layer of white colouring over the smoke cloud, then colour over this with grey. Use your finger to blend or smudge the colours into a smooth texture. Apply the grey over the white using side-to-side strokes and continue to blend until you have the greyish-white tone that looks like smoke.

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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.

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