Studying Planes in Rock Forms – Useful Drawing Tips

Studying Planes in Rock Forms – Useful Drawing Tips:

This exercise will teach you some really useful tips for approaching your drawings and paintings. Being able to break objects down into simple shapes is a fundamental part of creating realistic drawings and sketching block rock forms is the perfect way to learn how planes work.

  • You just need a picture of rocks, some paper, a pencil and an eraser for this exercise.
  • I recommend trying the process out using a variety of different photos of rocks (or go sketching outdoors if you’re feeling adventurous).
  • Start by lightly sketching the outside shapes of the rocks that you are drawing.
  • Keep your lines straight and use as few as you possibly can to capture your subject.
  • Divide the rock into side planes, top planes and bottom planes (flat surfaces of the rocks) using straight lines.
  • Planes that face more away from the light will be dark and the ones that face more towards the light will be lightest.
  • How dark or light the plane is will depend on how much it does or doesn’t face towards the light.
  • Shade in each plane according to how dark or light it is.
  • If you keep following this simple process, and gradually add all the planes, eventually your drawing will start to look 3D and resemble the subject.
  • Once you’re done with one drawing – find a new reference to work from and start another. The more you practise the easier you will find it to use planes when drawing other subjects like portrait, figures and still lifes.


  • Paper (sheet or a sketchbook)
  • Pencils
  • Eraser