How to draw a transparent object with reflection| TIP18

Let’s study a transparent BIC ballpoint pen Cristal cap.

In a previous post, we saw how to draw a reflection on flat and transparent surfaces. Now, it’s about transparent volume. The degree of difficulty is a bit higher but still achievable by beginners.

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Chou-Tac Chung – BIC Ballpoint Pen Cristal cap with reflections


STEP 1|GET THE Right Proportion

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Take your time tracing these curves. Undo with Ctrl-Z when needed. Redo until you get a satisfying result. Remember to use the ghost drawing that we saw earlier in the Basics Essentials.

symmetrical-verticalMake sure the cap’s cone is symmetrical.
Feel free to use the symmetry tool from Sketchbook Pro.

Draw the thickness of the cap as well. It’s the first indicator of transparency.


STEP 2|Define the inside lighting and shadow

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Observe inside the crystal cap or anything transparent such as a glass for example.

You will notice a clear surface, gradients of shadow, and some small dark areas. Emphasize the contrast of wide clear surface and small dark (almost black) areas to create an obvious reflection.


STEP 3|Draw the background

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Now, we focus on what’ is happening at the exterior surface of the object.
Add some hatching to represent the main exterior shadow. The trick is to cover partially or fully cover the inside one that we did in Step 2.

Recommended: you can add a color background. More details at the following bonus.


BONUS | Optical illusion

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TIP 18 How to make transparency and glass reflection obvious

To do that trick, there is nothing better to draw something behind the object. We simply add an artificial background made of color hatching. What is shown behind the cap will be bent.


This quick tutorial needs a bit of training. Remember to keep it simple.
At the start, we have the tendency to overload the sketch of details.

Let me know your opinion in the box below.

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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

2 Comments

  • Stephen

    Reply Reply July 11, 2016

    I enjoy doodling, and I like to compare other artists’ techniques and styles.

    South Africa

  • Braeden

    Reply Reply February 28, 2015

    Yes, putting a background behind a transparent object will make it look transparent.
    But you haven’t told us very much valuable information.
    How do you know where to draw those curves for the distorted background? Why do they curve, what makes something look transparent, rather than just stating, “You want to make an obvious transparent object? Just put something behind it!” It doesn’t help me, nor will it help people who don’t understand how reflections, transparency, and distortion actually work. Explain why the background looks so different when it interacts with the object, instead of just showing the result without talking about how you got to that result.

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