How to draw glass in colored pencil – Veronica Winters Painting

Janice K. Johnson

how to draw glass

In this post I’d like to explain the basics of drawing glass and other glass-like, transparent or reflective objects. At the end of this article you’ll find additional resources such as my online video course and drawing demonstrations that give you more drawing ideas on how to draw glass.

Drawing crystal or glass or other reflective surfaces is not as difficult as you may think once you understand the basic principle behind it. Observation is key!

How to draw wine glass veronica winters
Drawing of wine glass, Veronica Winters

How to draw glass: tip #1 | Symmetry & ellipses

The accuracy of shapes is the first important thing that’s relevant to drawing any surface of object including drawing of wine glass. What this means is that when you draw a wine glass, the shape of the wine glass itself must be very accurate with symmetrical sides and perfect ellipses. At first, it’s a very laborious process to get the accuracy of shapes going but overtime you’ll become a better draftsman, and it will be much easier to keep the shapes accurate, even and symmetrical. Therefore, always strive to achieve the most accurate shape (outline) for your drawing. The overall shape of the object mustn’t be crooked.

how to draw wine glass
This is an example of me using the folding technique on tracing paper. I basically sketch out a wine glass/cup/vase as I see it. Then draw the line right through the center. Fold. Trace my best side onto another side. Unfold. Then I transfer that symmetrical outline onto my drawing paper. I have extensive instructions of this drafting technique in my art book “The Colored Pencil Manual”. Why don’t we just transfer the outlines right from a reference using a window light or a light table? Camera lenses distort reality and produce crooked forms. If you use a zoom lens, sometimes you can almost see a fish-eye effect that is very noticeable on linear subjects and architecture. Don’t be a slave to your camera.

How to draw glass: tip #2 | General pattern

glass object venice pavilion 2017
Unique glass object at the Venice pavilion, 2017 | Here the general pattern of crystal glass is quite difficult to ‘copy’ unless it’s drawn really big.

In drawing of glass and crystal you should aim to break it down to general pattern first and then fuss over the details. See if the crystal glass has patters with ray cuts, squares, etc. You want to be perfect at repeating this pattern as it curves around the form. Only after that you look at the abstract shapes and colors found within this pattern.

how to draw glass
I created this drawing over a decade ago when I was learning how to draw glass in various shapes such as marbles, wine glass and crystal. The crystal vase has a rather simple, ‘repeatable’ pattern.

Your aim is to copy the largest shapes found within the design. The more sophisticated the pattern is, the more work you have ahead of you. Therefore it makes sense to either draw big, so it will be easy to put all the abstract designs you see in your drawing of glass, or pick a crystal vase with a very simple pattern.

 how to draw glass
Still life with a vase, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper | This glass vase doesn’t have the pattern on its surface like crystal vases do. However, it has ‘abstract shapes’ inside it because of its transparency. I always try to copy major shapes I see. I also curve the lines in accordance with the object’s shape.

Always try to find major abstract shapes within the vase or glass. Copy those shapes as precise as possible. Usually these are distortions, patterns or color movements either inside the glass or on its surface.

How to draw glass: tip #3 | Color behind the glass

how to draw glass
In this drawing the glass heart is semitransparent showing black – the color of its background. The black inside the heart is less color-intense because it mixes up with other hues of the glass.

Glass surface always reflects something behind and around it. So colors of the background must be very similar to the ones inside the wine glass/ glass vase/ glass object. Color intensity could vary though.

how to draw texture
Here the same glass heart has a slightly different color because some background white shows through it.

How to draw glass: tip #4 | Soft shading

Drawing of glass requires soft shading. Lines must be short not to flatten out the shape. To create volume in the glass vase or wine glass, pay attention how abstract shapes found on the surface curve and wrap around the object. Curve lines. Shade softly with short, overlapping strokes. Don’t make lines and shapes inside the vase or glass too straight because it flattens out the object. But if you have a bottle with straight sides, these lines must stay nice and straight.

how to draw glass
Turquoise tea set, 10×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper | In this colored pencil drawing you can see how the objects’ edges stay crisp while shading inside the teapot is very soft. Colors flow one into another without having separate edges or unevenness.

Always try to improve your shading by placing tight, overlapping strokes. Don’t rely on fixing the unevenness of your shading with the blender. Rotate your paper to place the pencil strokes in the right direction. One of my favorite colored pencil brands is Caran D’ache Luminance because they’re very soft, durable, lightfast and blend exceptionally well simply by shading tightly or crosshatching with them. They’re very pricey but can make a great gift for any colored pencil artist.

How to draw glass: tip #5 | Blending

Glass has no texture. To imitate this glass-like surface blending becomes key. Sometimes you don’t need extra blending if you shade with sharp pencils overlapping, crosshatching or moving in circles to create tight shading. Paper’s texture has a lot to do with it. Paper must be smooth with just a bit of paper tooth to adhere colored pencil to. If your drawing paper has lots of texture, then blending is necessary.

how to draw glass
Glass chandelier, Veronica Winters | Many years ago I was fascinated by glass chandeliers when I was learning how to draw glass. I made several colored pencil drawings based on my photos I took at the palaces. I loved capturing all the reflections inside large glass and crystal shapes.

To imitate the smoothness of glass I shade everything with heavy pencil pressure. Usually I don’t use the blender. If you think your shading is not complete without additional blending, use Caran d’Ache full blender at the very end. Blend everything where you don’t want to see any texture. Glass vase has no texture but flowers sticking out of it might have some texture, for example.

Putting it all together

 how to draw wine glass
Still life with a wine glass, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper, private collection | This drawing is available as a downloadable step-by-step drawing demonstration “How to draw wine glass”

Step back and look at your drawing of glass from a distance. Is the overall shape of the wine glass correct? Do you have enough variation in values ranging from light to dark? These are potential places to fix things. Is glass smooth with nice transitions? Do you have strong highlights?

Oftentimes the blending step is not the last one in drawing of glass. Additional layering may be necessary to tweak the values or to soften the edges. When the surface becomes too waxy and doesn’t accept any more pigment, spray it with a fixative for dry media (I recommend Grumbacher). Let it dry and try shading it once again.


colored pencil techniques video course by veronica winters
https://veronica-winters-art-school.teachable.com/p/veronica-winters-complete-colored-pencil-techniques-in-90-days
how to draw glass
Glass bunny, Veronica Winters | This drawing is available as a step-by-step demonstration in the Colored Pencil Magazine Workshop series (February 2021).
colored pencil manual veronica winters
I have two chapters dedicated to drawing glass and reflective surfaces. I explain how to make symmetrical shapes in wine glass and many other reflective objects. The colored pencil manual is sold on Amazon.

*The Colored Pencil Manual art instruction book: https://amzn.to/3fRpoEb

* How to Color like an Artist art coloring book: https://amzn.to/2LtH0Iq

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