How to draw a pineapple

How to Draw a Pineapple in 5 Steps

In this tutorial, learn how to draw a pineapple realistically in 5 steps. This drawing involves lots of shading and some detail work to achieve a realistic effect. Pineapples are interesting fruits with leaves and a lot of texture. This makes them quite a complex subject to draw.

To achieve a realistic drawing, two of most important components are a range in tonal values (bright highlights and deep shadows) and accurate proportions.

At the end of this tutorial, I’ve written a supplies guide and I’ve added the reference image that I’ve put into black and white so you can save it and follow along with the drawing!

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Draw a pineapple: video tutorial

Check out the pineapple drawing video tutorial on Youtube!

Step 1: Find the light source

draw a pineapple lightsource

Look at your reference photo and determine where the light is coming from. This will inform where your light and dark values (highlights and shadows) will be. If you’re working from a reference photo when drawing, it helps to edit the photo and put it in black and white. This can help you to determine the value relationships better.

As you can see, the light source in this photograph is coming from the right hand side. The fruitlet sections and leaves on the right hand side are reflecting more light, while the left hand side is darker in tone. This is a good image to work from, because there is a lot of contrast, so you can exercise your value drawing muscles. 

Step 2: Draw your guides

draw guides for pineapple

The key to accuracy in drawing is having guides and reference points to work from. I drew a box very lightly with a hard pencil (F). The rectangle was just over double in height as it was width. The crown (leaves) of the pineapple is roughly the same height as the fruit, so I drew a line halfway across the rectangle. I also drew a line vertically halfway through the rectangle to serve as an extra reference point.

I also pinpointed on the guides, where the pineapple hit the edges. Draw these markers on your own guides on paper, then all you have to do is join them up.

Step 3: Create an outline sketch

outline sketch of pineapple

Use your guides as references and draw the outline of the pineapple. The fruit doesn’t have to be a perfect oval, or symmetrical. Pineapples are quite organic in shape. You’ll notice that the bottom of the fruit is fairly flat and the shape looks like a lopsided oval. 

Next, draw the leaves. The leaves are smaller and more curled towards the bottom and they gradually get larger towards the top of the pineapple. Drawing curled leaves can take a bit of practice, so soak in the details of your reference before putting pencil to paper. Notice which way the leaves are pointing for example. 

Step 4: Draw in the details

draw pineapple details

The more detailed areas of the drawing are the sections of pineapple skin and the smaller leaves coming out of each section. As a whole, these smaller sections make up a diagonal criss cross shape across the pineapple body. You can see from the reference photo that these sections are dark in value. However, I start by sketching in the different sections lightly, then I go over them with more pressure when I feel confident of the placement of the details. 

Step 5: Start shading: increase contrast

shading a pineapple

Now it’s time to render the values of the pineapple. The darkest areas are between each smaller fruitlet section on the skin and under the curls on the leaves on the crown. The left hand side of the pineapple is significantly darker than the right hand side. Leave the brightest areas out when shading. If your paper is white, these will be the highlights. If, like me, you are working on a mid tone paper, you could brighten the lightest highlights with white pencil. 

Applying a lot of pressure with pencil, so that none of the paper texture beneath shows through is a technique called burnishing. I use this technique for some of the pineapple skin and leaves. Another thing that helps me whilst drawing, is using one of these Tombow Mono Zero erasers to erase small details. I use it to erase small highlights that I’ve shaded over lightly. You can buy them cheaply on Amazon.

I spent a few hours going over sections, increasing the contrast and deepening shadows to achieve a more realistic impression. You can spend as much or as little time as you like working on the shading, it can take some time for the values to look realistic. Drawing and shading really are enjoyable processes that you can get totally lost in! Once you get into the flow of it, time will just disappear. 

How to draw a pineapple: Supplies list 

  • Drawing paper or a sketchbook. Use any kind of drawing paper you want, slightly thicker paper will be able to take more pressure from the pencil. For this tutorial I’m using the Strathmore 400 series toned tan paper, as I enjoy working on mid tone paper.
  • Pencils: graphite pencils would work well for this drawing, I’m using oil pencils in Burnt Umber and white for highlights. I used a hard F pencil to draw my guides
  • Erasers: any eraser will do! I work with a kneaded gum eraser as it is moldable and can lift colours lightly. I also have a Tombow Mono Zero eraser to erase small details. 
  • Sharpener: again, any sharpener will do. I find these effective as they waste less pencil lead. 
  • Blending stump (optional): smooth out shaded areas to give a more realistic appearance with these paper blending stumps. If you don’t want to get these, you could blend with a q-tip.
  • Ruler (optional): If you want to draw guides to help you sketch out the outline of the drawing, a ruler can help you to be more precise.

Do you need lots of different supplies for drawing?

You can use any type of drawing materials to draw this pineapple. Use whatever supplies you already have and whatever you prefer drawing with. The only thing I would advise getting is a pencil that gives you a good value range. So for example, if you’re using graphite, a softer pencil like 5B, 6B or 8B would allow you to shade darker values. A harder pencil like an F or HB would also be useful for lightly sketching in guides and outlines, that you can erase if you need to.

As you can see, you don’t need lots of fancy materials to draw successfully, but there are some supplies that can make the drawing process feel easier or more enjoyable for some people. If any of these supplies look appealing to you, experiment with them and see if you enjoy using them.

It took me a while to find that I loved drawing with oil pencils on mid tone paper. I find that drawing on mid tone paper saves time in rendering the mid tones yourself with pencil. You can see from my final drawing that I’ve left a lot of the mid tone areas blank, to allow the brown paper to show through. If I was using white paper, I would have spent the time filling in all these areas myself. It allows me to spend time working on the lightest highlights and darkest shadows. So again, this is down to personal preference, but it’s an awesome type of paper to work with.

Pineapple reference photo

Here is the reference photo I worked from, feel free to save it and use it yourself. I sourced the photo from Unsplash. Feel free to draw guides and markers onto the photo, this helped me draw more accurately. 

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