Drawing Flowers With Colored Pencils in Just 5 Simple Steps

There’s no shortage of gorgeous blooms in the world. Whether they are in your home or on a Pinterest board, flowers brighten our lives. It’s only natural that you’d want to translate that beauty on to paper. Drawing flowers with colored pencils is a fantastic way to do so — these tools create vibrant hues worthy of your favorite plant.

Follow this simple five-step tutorial and you’ll soon be an expert at drawing flowers with colored pencils!

Using this easy to follow process, you'll be able to draw any flower!

Using this easy-to-follow process, you’ll be able to render any flower in colored pencil.

This is a universal tutorial that will work with any type of flower. The steps are all the same, which should make drawing less daunting.

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Step 1: Assess and select the colors you will use.

Before putting pencil to paper, look at the type of colors that are in the plant. Select, at minimum, three pencils — one light, medium, and dark tone. This will ensure that you have a dimensional and well-rounded flower. You can certainly use more than three colors, especially if the bloom calls for it.

Step 2: Draw large, general shapes in the lightest color.

Flower outline

When working with colored pencils, I advise against using graphite for sketching because the two will often clash. To draw your flower, first chose the lightest color that you’re using. (This will be easiest to cover up later.) Start sketching large, general shapes like the outside of the petals and leaves.

Step 3: Refine your drawing and color it in.

Flower drawing with some detail

In the same color, refine your sketch by drawing smaller, more intricate details. Lightly record the veins of a petal or pollen in the center of your flower.

Sunflower drawing with some detail

After you’ve drawn these details, color the flower in using a light touch. This establishes a “base” color from which you’ll build hue and texture. It also doubles as your highlights — the brightest parts of the bloom.

Step 4: Shade and highlight the drawing color by color.

Flower with some shadingFlower with more shading

This step is the longest (and most tedious part) of the whole process. It’s also the most fun and — believe it or not — relaxing. Take the colors you selected in Step 1 and really study your flower. Figure out where the different hues will go. Ask yourself: Which areas are darker? Which are lighter? What color pencil will I use for each section? A refined sketch will help you decide what color goes where.

Flower shading with some detail

I like to use a single color and go around the flower — petal by petal  —until that color is done. Then, I start another color. Depending on the hue, I will layer hues to create a custom pigment (more on that below.)

Flower with some shading

Step 5 (optional): Finish your drawing by blending the pigments.

Finished flower drawing

After you’ve gone around the petals and colored the leaves, there’s one last step. To give your flowers a blended, smooth look, use a light pencil pigment and color atop your drawing. This won’t alter your color, but the waxiness will spread it and hide the texture of your paper.

Tip: Layer colored pencil pigment

Flower with some shading

One of the most fun parts of drawing flowers with colored pencils is the ability to easily layer pigments. This allows you to create deep, rich hues and even “mix” them together, adding dimension to your work. Try layering blue and red on top of each other — you’ll find they make purple.

Ideas for layering colored pencils:

  • Layer two complementary colors to create a brown that’s perfect for shading.

  • Avoid using black! Instead, try layering browns and blues for a beautifully rich, dark hue.

  • Experiment by layering pigments like red-orange or blue-green to form your own tertiary colors.

Trio of flowers drawn with colored pencils

5 Botanical Illustration Tutorials

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