Today I am illustrating the flowers of late summer: Black-eyed Susans, Gladiolas, and Chrysanthemums. All you need is a sketchbook, a pencil, and pens.
Be sure to watch today’s video for more details and examples:
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As always, I start with a guide - draw a circle that defines how large your flower will be and mark your stamen in the center with a smaller circle. From there you can start adding in your petals. The black-eyed susan is very much like a daisy - with a circle of petals, a straight stem, and leaves that come straight out from the stem. For the second flower, I am putting the stamen towards the top of the circle to show that the flower is convex. When the top petals are shorter, it will make it look like the petals are curving downwards.
Going over it in pen, I start adding more details. Each petal is a little different - some are more pointed and some are almost square. To follow the rough edges, I wiggle the pen so they are not too perfect. The stamen is a big burst of bristles so I fill it with tiny line scribbles and I leave negative space to show the length and definition of the bristles. Going over the stem, I keep following the pencil guide and start to add line shading.
After erasing the pencil guide, I add more line shading in a smaller pen size. I was using the 05 Pigma Micron before, but for shading will use the 005, the tiniest nib size. Adding tiny lines at both ends of the petals and to the leaves really makes the drawing pop and jump off the page. Remember to go in the direction of the form, if the leaf is going to the left, keep your lines going to the left.
Tip #1 Check out the blog post on Drawing Tips. I go into more detail on both making a pencil guide before drawing in pen and on understanding nib sizes.
Gladiolas are the August birth flower and one of my favorite flowers. I start with a line in pencil for the form of the flower and then place circles along the line for each flower. At the top, I add a few small buds with the circles getting bigger at the bottom. The larger ones at the bottom can even overlap a little bit to look more natural. I place a curving line low in each circle where the flower will open up. Finally, I make the circles a little rougher so it looks more like a flower petal and isn’t too smooth. You can add some long leaves behind and add a second stem.
With a pen, I thicken the stem to create a darker area that helps to differentiate between the flower and the greenery in a black and white drawing. I wiggle the pen to give the flowers a rough shape so they aren’t too smooth and fake looking.
Tip #2 I will add a little line shading with the 05 but prefer to wait until after I erase the pencil guide. You can see everything more clearly and know what is already there.
With the smaller Pigma Micron, I add a lot of line shading to the gladiolas. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, so by adding curved lines coming out from that lower line on each flower, you can see how concave they are. The line shading accentuates the shape and the shadow so it is darkest in the center. I also add some shading around the edges of the petals to accentuate the roughness.
Tip #3 Not everything has to join together exactly, there can be negative space. The leaves behind the flowers don’t actually meet up with the stem and thats perfectly ok.
Start with your guide to decide how big you want your flower to be and add your stamen to the center. The trickiest one, the chrysanthemum is made up entirely of tiny petals. Where you marked your center, the petals are tightly grouped, so you want to draw them really tiny, with rows creating a sort of sphere in the middle. As I move outward, I am drawing the tips of long thin petals behind that sphere adding small rows to fill the circle. The stem is straight with big floppy leaves that have a rough edge and a little texture.
Tip #4 To make things look organic, make sure nothing is perfect. Petals can be different sizes and shapes, nothing should be too smooth, and a mistake may make it look more natural.
With a pen, I add more detail to the rows of petals. Like the black-eyed susan, they are all different shapes, some more pointed and some more square, with no smooth lines. At the outer edges, the petals are unfurling, almost hanging away from the flower. After erasing the pencil sketch you can add more petals to fill gaps or start adding line shading. Again, these flowers require a lot of shading. Every single little petal should have line shading, showing shadow or shape. The petals will be darker where it sits right below another one. For shape, the lines should curve in the direction that each petal is curving.
Tip #5 If your petal is curving up, your line shading is curving up. If your petal is curving down the lines should be going down. The line shading on each individual petal really elevates this drawing.