How to Draw Dust & Smoke

Deborah Walden

Drawings of dust and smoke vary in opacity and size. Capture a small curl of smoke from the flame of a candle or billowing plumes of black from a raging fire. Likewise, drawings of dust vary from small puffs of dirt blown up from from a feather duster to long trails of dust kicked up by the wheels of a car.

Dust and smoke share a cloudy, opaque appearance.

When completing your drawing of smoke or dust, pay careful attention to lighting to properly capture the distinct appearance of your particular subject.

  1. Study your intended subject, observing size and shape.

  2. Lightly draw the outline of the area of smoke or dust that you intend to draw.

  3. Turn your pencil tip on its side and shade in light, circular motions to capture the blurry appearance of smoke and dust. Keep your shadows rounded and irregular, avoiding patterns.

  4. Apply pressure to your pencil to darken more opaque areas of your subject.

  5. For lighter areas, apply very little pressure to your pencil, creating soft, transparent smoke or dust.

  6. Tip

    If the smoke or dust that you draw is lit by a light source against a dark background, follow the same process but use your eraser, rather than a pencil, to draw it.