It’s this time of the year again: Sun is shining longer, birds are chirping and everywhere you look are beautiful flowers blooming. It’s feeling warmer, inside and out! It’s spring!
I’m Tina aka jonajpeg and I’m a freelance artist based in Germany. I love to draw manga/anime inspired characters on my Instagram and teach how to draw and color on my YouTube Channel! But as I’ve already mentioned: I’m also in love with drawing flowers, so I was very excited when Ohuhu asked me to create a flower-drawing tutorial for their blog page!
In this guide, I’ve included a written step-by-step instruction showing how to construct your sketch, use references and draw your lineart. You’ll also find extra tips with every step to level up your flower illustrations as a bonus!
Before we dive into the tutorial itself, let’s take a look at the art supplies I’m using:
- Sketching paper
- One colored pencil for sketching
- (Mechanical) Pencil
Now we’re prepared with all art supplies laid aside and are good to go. Let’s start with the first step of today’s tutorial:
1. Preparation - before you start sketching
1.1. Choose a flower you like to draw
For this tutorial I’ve chosen Sunflowers, Lilacs and Tulips.
1.2. Search for references
On the internet, you will find many beautiful pictures of your chosen flowers. Try to search on google, pinterest or on free stock photo websites like Pixabay, Unsplash or Pexels. Save them on your phone, tablet or computer to have them ready while sketching!
1.3. Analyse the structure and the overall shape of your flower reference
As shown in the following pictures, I broke down the flowers on the reference photos into bigger shapes. That helps me to visualize the general structure of the flower and makes it easier to find a starting point in the sketching process.
1.4. Analyse the form of the petals and leaves
At least as important as the overall structure of the flower are the form and shape of the petals and leaves. This is the most characteristic part of the flower and will decide on whether your flower is recognizable or not.
Of course, it’s always good to take and keep your own notes of your observations. If you ever feel like drawing a certain flower again, you can always come back to your reference photos and notes you took in the past. These ‘cheat sheets’ you can see above will help you later on, when drawing sunflowers, lilacs, or tulips.
2.How to draw a flower: Step by step
2.1. Build up your flower
With all the preparations we did in the first step, the thinking part is already done - yay! You only have to transfer your shapes as a sketch onto your sketching paper. I’m using a colored pencil for this step to keep a clear view of my lines. Keep it simple and only concentrate on the overall shapes.
Here you can see, how I build up my sketches:
In addition there are a few extra tips to level up your flower illustrations, which I always follow while building up my sketches and drawing details:
A) Make it varied!
Instead of drawing the same flower three times in the same position, I tried to incorporate different perspectives and different stages of blooming. Play with different shapes and perspectives of petals and leaves to create more dynamic!
B) Another perspective!
So you already incorporated different perspectives in your drawing, great! Now keep that in mind while drawing the petals and leaves by following the principle of foreshortening. ‘What the heck is that?’, you might ask. Let me explain it:
Here you can see two Tulips, one straight from the side and one is turned to us viewers. From the side view the petals are looking long and you can’t see inside the tulip, whereas from the other perspective you can. That causes the foreshortened petals in the foreground, which are much closer to us than the petals behind plus they even look much shorter as an effect of perspective.
You can see more examples of that effect on other flowers in the next step!
C) Less is more!
I have to admit that I love many details in an illustration, but there’s a big BUT: If you’re drawing too many we as the viewer can’t keep the overview and the overall illustration is getting to seem messy. The best example of our flowers for that point would be lilacs! They have countless small petals, which takes us hours to draw, IF we’re drawing them all in detail. So instead of focusing on all petals, let’s draw a bunch of them detailed in the foreground. After that we’re going to arrange all other petals behind and around them, so viewer’s eyeballs have a better focus on the detailed ones.
2.2. Sketch all details
Now I’ll grab my mechanical pencil to sketch in all the details. My colored sketch underneath ensures that I keep a nice balance between the petal shapes and leaves and also stay in line.
2.3. Transfer your sketch onto your Marker Pad with the LED Light Pad
Since sketching paper isn’t the best paper for my colored pencils, watercolor or alcohol markers, I always trace my sketch onto the paper, on which I like to color later on. Therefore I’m using the LED Light Pad, which is an ultra flat tracing pad. Instead of holding and pressing your paper onto the window against the sunlight for quite a long time, you can sit at your desk, turn on your LED Light Pad to trace your sketch in a way more comfortable way. You can adjust the brightness as you like, which makes it flexible to use in every environment and since it’s a LED Pad, you don’t have to worry about overheating. There are even three different light options you can switch to, such as cold white light, warm light and yellow light, so it doesn’t matter which type of paper you like to use. It comes with a USB cable, an user manual and with two magnetic pins to fix your sheets of paper.
You can trace your sketch with your pencil for a final sketch or straight with your Fine Liners to skip another interim step.
2.4. Lineart with Fine Line Drawing Pens
With the final sketch on our marker paper we can start to outline our illustration with Ohuhu’s Fine Line Drawing Pens. The Pens filled with black ink come as a set of eight different sizes in a transparent sleeve, as a convenient option for organization/storage. What I love the most about them, is that they’re water- and marker-proof, so I can use them in many different ways for all my illustrations.
While doing the lineart I always put my references or cheat sheets aside, so I can take a look if I’m feeling insecure on how to follow the lines of my sketch. Additionally I keep attention to the following tips to give my lineart a special touch:
A) Vary in your line thickness by using different pen sizes
I’ve used a Fine Line Pen in 0.3 for the basic lines. Then I went in with the smallest Fine Line Pen in 0.05, which is great for details, such as folds/fibres of the petals and the leaves. The last step of drawing a black border with a Fine Line Pen in 0.7 is optional, but I do believe that this brings so much extra to your lineart! In addition the viewer’s eyes can ‘read’ the details much better and leads to a cleaner look.
B) Hatch/Crosshatch folds and details with smaller brush sizes
By taking fast hand movements, like hatching or crosshatching you’ll get thinner and more precise lines. Thereby you can add many details without appearing exaggerated.
C) Let the ink dry before erasing your sketch underneath or coloring
This last tip is so important! Imagine you would have to start all over after so much work and effort you put in your lineart, just because the ink smudged after erasing your sketch for coloring the first parts of your illustration! ‘How long should I wait?’ you might ask. Well, that depends on various factors:
- Pen Size - The thicker your pen the more ink is on your paper and the more time it will take to dry.
- Type of paper - Smooth, non-textured paper like marker paper takes longer to absorb your ink than heavy-textured paper, like watercolor paper.
I’ve used pen sizes of 0.05, 0.3 and 0.7 on Ohuhu’s Marker Pad and waited like five minutes. Great opportunity to grab some coffee or tea! :-)
After that you’ll don’t have to worry about smudging anymore.
So guys, after all this work, let’s take a look at the end results. From this point on you can finish these illustrations by coloring or leave it at that.
Are you ready to paint up your inspiration?
With all these tips and instructions I bet, you’re going to rock your next flower illustration! If you found this tutorial helpful, please let me know by leaving a comment below and tell me your favourite flowers :-)
I’d like to finish up with a big thank you to Ohuhu for inviting me to share this guide with you. I’m a big fan of Ohuhu as a brand and their products and I hope I could pass my enthusiasm on to you guys!