3 Methods for Drawing Wood Grain with Copic

Randy Hunter | June 27, 2017

With Copic markers you can easily create more depth and detail in your wood grain. Apply these three methods of drawing wood grain texture. As artist Randy Hunter explains, "After understanding the basic concepts, it’s hard to go wrong when drawing wood in your art."

01_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial.jpgIn this tutorial I am going to show you two quick methods for achieving a wood grain texture in your Copic drawings as well as a more in depth look at how to render a detailed piece of wood. Wood comes in hundreds of different styles which actually makes the rendering process easier, in my opinion. After understanding the basic concepts, it’s hard to go wrong when drawing wood in your art.


  • Sketch Markers: E23, E25, E27, E49, E55, E57, 0 Colorless Blender
  • Copic Multiliner SP: 0.05, 0.1, 0.25, 0.7, BS
  • Paper: X-Press It Blending Card


Method 1: Background 

02_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_method.jpgThe first method is the easiest. I would use this method if I were covering a large area with wood in a drawing, or if the wooden object is further away in the drawing itself. 

Step 1:

As shown above, the first step is to simply choose the overall color you want to represent the wood grain and cover the area entirely. I used an E57 but the choice is totally up to you.

Step 2:

Choose another color or two, preferably darker, to act as the grain itself. Using the very end of your Super Brush tip, you’ll want to draw lines across the length of your wood background. You can draw as many or as few as you’d like to achieve the desired effect. For the most part, you DO NOT want these lines to be perfectly straight. They can waver up and down and should have a little bit of a jagged edge to them. I used E49 for the grain.

Step 3:

For a finishing touch, a very fine tip Copic Multiliner (0.05) can add a little more detail.


Method 2: Pattern

03_05_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_method.jpgThis method is the opposite of the first because you start with the pattern.

03_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial_pattern.jpgStep 1:

Here, we are focused more on the pattern of the grain itself and then the overall color of the wood. In this first image, using a darker marker (E49), I have drawn 2 different grain patterns. Again, there are hundreds of different types of wood so do some research and find a grain that really works for you. The lines in the wood can vary in width, distance apart, and direction. Some wood grains will be very subtle and others very harsh and contrasting.


04_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial_e55_e57.jpgStep 2:

After establishing a grain pattern, I will now go back over that using the broad tip of my marker to fill in the background color of the wood. I used two different colors, one as a base (E55) and another as a kind of secondary grain color(E57).


Step 3:

05_how_to_wood_grain_copic_multiliner_tutorial.jpgAnd finally, to add more detail I will use a fine tip multiliner (0.1).

**Rule of Thumb: The grain lines in the wood do not cross over one another. To keep your wood looking realistic, keep this in mind. The distance between them will change making them extremely close together at times and further apart at others but they will not cross.

Method 3: Detail and Depth

The previous two methods were quick and simple ways to produce a wood grain in your drawing. Neither of those methods alluded to depth, only background color and grain pattern. Now, I’m going to walk you through how to render wood grain with depth, shadows, imperfections and texture.

06_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial.jpgStep 1

The first step is to use a 0.25 multiliner to simply layout the grain pattern. Again, this can be almost anything but look at images of wood grains to get some ideas. Remember, the grain lines do not cross each other.

07_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial.jpgStep 2

Next, I used a small brush tip multiliner (BS) to add thickness to some of the grain lines. I used a deliberately shaky hand to make the lines seem more random and imperfect.

08_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial.jpgStep 3

After adding thickness to some of the grain lines, it’s time to choose the color of the wood and then darker shades in the same color family to more easily blend the shadows on this chunk of wood. Here I chose E23 as the base layer. I used the broad tip to quickly fill in the background color. I then used an E25 to begin the first layer of shadows for where I want to really enhance the depth of the wood. For the first shadow layer, I used the Super Brush tip with a flicking motion from the crack in the grain, outward.


Step 4

Now it’s time to begin layering in the shadows. The next color is an E27 which I used to go over nearly all the same areas as I used the E25 in the previous step. After that I used an E49 to further enhance the darkness of the shadows where the wood grain is split and cracked. Again with the Super Brush I “flicked” the tip from the split outwards, about halfway into the E27 layer. Finally, I went back over the E49 and E27 with a quick layering of the E25 again to help soften the blending colors.

10_how_to_wood_grain_copic_marker_tutorial.jpgStep 5

We’re almost finished. From here we will add that extra layer of detail. This is where the multiliners really come into play and pull out the true character of the grain. I first used the 0.25 to add a few grain lines. Notice that each major crack or split in the wood is kind of like its own miniature piece of wood and thus, the grain lines are contained within each individual section. This is your time to add as much or as little detail as needed. I used the 0.25, BS, 0.7, and the smaller 0.05 to get a range of grain thicknesses. Remember, the grain lines do not cross each other and are usually not perfectly straight or perfectly crisp lines. Do not be afraid to add some zigs and zags as you take your grain line from one side to the other.


Step 6

The final step is just to add a little extra texture to the grain. I sporadically added another layer of E23 and E25 to darken up the entire piece. To really cap off the rendering, I used the Colorless Blender in random spots to give the wood a rougher texture and a little bit of highlighting. 

Thanks for reading through this tutorial! If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment section below! 


Topics: Illustration, Copic, X-Press It

Randy Hunter
Randy Hunter on June 27, 2017

Randy Hunter is an Associate Architect in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as a Custom Art Business Owner. His primary subject matter includes both color and black and white commissioned portraits as well as landscapes and architectural illustration. Randy received his Master of Architecture and Master of Business Administration from Kent State University.