Do you know how to draw paisley?
This classic pattern might seem impossibly complex, but it’s actually a drawing project suitable for just about any level. What appears to be an intricate, confusing pattern is actually quite easily rendered by applying layer after layer of simple shapes to your drawing.
Drawings via CakeSpy
Here, we’ll guide you step by step through the process of drawing paisley, starting with a simple design and then inviting you to explore more complicated variations.
Before you get started: what is paisley?
You’ve probably seen this design before, but what is paisley, exactly?
This curved, teardrop-shaped design is said to have originated in Persia between A.D. 200 and A.D. 650, and became widespread throughout the Middle East. As for what it represents? That depends on who you ask: Different cultures consider it a symbol of plant life, fertility or even an adaptation of the yin-yang symbol.
The paisley design was imported to Europe in the latter part of the 16th century, where it became a popular design for textiles and clothing. The design was particularly well-received in the town of Paisley, Scotland, which is where the design got its contemporary name.
How to draw paisley
You’ll only need two materials: your favorite drawing medium (pencil, pen, marker, etc.) and a drawing surface (drawing paper, Bristol board, etc.). Simple!
Draw a comma-like shape. It is drawn on its side here, but its orientation is up to you. You can make it longer or shorter, fatter or thinner depending on your preference.
Draw a smaller version of the shape within the original shape.
Draw a scalloped border on the outside of both the inner and outer shapes. This is an easy way to instantly make the design look more intricate.
Fill in some of the negative space between the inner and outer shape. Dots are a simple and easy shape to use here, and easy to view for demonstrating purposes.
Fill in the negative space on the inner shape. Once again, dots are a nice pick here if you’re just starting out, but you could fill it in with a more involved design or another shape.
If you feel like the design needs a little something more, like a scalloped border around the inner dots, go ahead and add them. You can make the design as simple or complex as you like.
And there you have it! Drawing paisley is as easy as these six simple steps.
Once you’ve practiced this method a few times, you can start to take liberties with the design. Perhaps you’ll color in the paisley design or use more intricate shapes to fill in the negative space. Complexity can be added by making the initial shape more elongated or curly on the end, or by adding more intricate shapes within the shape.
Once you’ve mastered the basic method, your next experiment may look more complex, like this: