Visual Texture

This activ­ity is great prac­tice for learn­ing to see val­ues (lights and darks) and dupli­cate them in your draw­ings. Younger stu­dents may only have the patience to do two or three of these, while older stu­dents may want to do sev­eral more. Make sure you use the same pen­cil and the same paper for both the rub­bings and the copies, or you’ll have trou­ble dupli­cat­ing the light­est and dark­est values!

Tex­ture — the way some­thing feels
Visual tex­ture — the way some­thing looks like it would feel, dupli­cated in a 2D medium
Pat­tern — a repeated design or motif
Value — the degree of light­ness or dark­ness of a color


  • Draw­ing paper, 2 sheets (loose or in a sketchbook)
  • soft, black draw­ing pen­cil (6B or equivalent)
  • 3″ x 5″ index card or card stock
  • Scis­sors
  • Glue Stick
  • Kneaded eraser (optional)
  • Blend­ing stump (optional)
  • Fix­a­tive or hair spray (optional)

1. On one sheet of paper, make a vari­ety of tex­ture rub­bings (the bot­toms of shoes work great!). Make sure each one is at least 2″ square.
2. Cut a 1–1/2″ square open­ing in a piece of card stock (I like to fold an index card in half and then cut a 3/4″ x 1–1/2″ open­ing on the fold). Use this as a tem­plate to trace sev­eral squares over your rub­bings.
3. Then, cut out the squares you traced and glue them down in a ver­ti­cal col­umn on your 2nd piece of paper (or the next page in your sketch book).
4. Now, use your square tem­plate to draw a square across from each of the rub­bings that you glued onto your paper.
5. Finally, use the same pen­cil you did your rub­bings with to dupli­cate each rub­bing onto the empty square across from it. Try to match both the pat­tern and the val­ues as closely as you can. You can use a kneaded eraser to lift out small areas of lighter value. (
Impor­tant: Make sure you use the same kind of paper and the same pen­cil for your copies as you did for your rub­bings!) When you’re fin­ished, it should be hard to tell which is the orig­i­nal and which is the copy!

Remem­ber that soft pen­cils smudge eas­ily. A light mist­ing of hair spray or fix­a­tive will keep your fin­ished draw­ing look­ing crisp and clean!

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One Response to Visual Texture

  1. Stuck in the Mud Pottery November 22, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    This is a great idea! Thanks for shar­ing. I’m always look­ing for inno­v­a­tive ways to intro­duce value. I think this would work great with even my older students!

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