How to Create a Floral Line Drawing Using WatercolorJun 23, 2022
Do you love line drawing, flowers and watercolor? Look no further! In this tutorial I will show you my technique to draw flowers that will capture both the liveliness of line drawing AND the dreamy hues of watercolor.
I am Amandine Thomas, and I’m with The Pigeon Letters Design Team. I can’t wait to see what you create with this sweet little illustration tutorial! Ready to get started?
- A5 piece of 300 gsm Bristol paper
- Pencil and eraser
- Watercolor set (I use the following colors, but feel free to substitute: sap green, burnt orange, cerulean blue, phthalo green, hansa yellow light and deep, quinacridone rose and pyrrol scarlet)
- Sergeant major nib
- Studio round brush in size 6 to mix your paint and fill your nib
- Studio round brush in size 2 for the watercolor accents
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Step 1: Sketch Your Floral Arrangement
The first thing you’re going to do is super quickly sketch a little flower arrangement, with your pencil (I am going to take inspiration from Australian native flowers today, but feel free to go for your favorite flowers instead). As you draw, keep your mouvements loose and free, and don’t overthink it, or you might lose some of that lovely, messy spontaneity!
In my sketch, I have wattle, gumtree leaves, a protea, some silver princess flowers… But whichever flowers you choose to draw, don’t stress too much about your sketch being realistic: it’s not the point. Firstly because we’re going for a more stylised effect with this artwork, and then because the final illustration is probably going to be a little bit different from your sketch anyway. So it’s better not to get too caught up at this stage!
Need some more inspiration for your floral drawings? Grab Peggy's best-selling Guide to Nature Drawing and Watercolor.
Step 2: Mix Your Greens
Once you are happy with your sketch, start by mixing your greens for the stems and leaves of your flowers. You will need a warmer, earthier tone, and a cooler one. To mix your warmer color, you can use any green and “dirty” it with a point of red or brown (I am using sap green and burnt orange). For the cooler color, use the same base but add a point of blue, or cooler green (I am using cerulean blue and phthalo green).
Step 3: Draw the Stems and Leaves
Once you’re happy with your colors, fill your nib. To do that, you want to use a brush that can hold quite a bit of color in, but will release it with a bit of pressure, so you can fill the nib in one go. The Pigeon Letters studio round brush in size 6 will do exactly that! Don’t put too much paint at once or you won’t get a clean line, but make sure you get enough to ensure the nib doesn’t run dry too quickly (which is very frustrating, trust me)!
Once again keeping your movements loose and free, use the nib to draw all the leaves and stems in your floral arrangement. Don’t try to stick too closely to your sketch: think of it as a guide, rather than something you need to get 100% right. That way the nib won’t catch on the paper, and you’ll retain that lovely energy in your strokes.
When you need to refill your color (and you will, many times), don’t worry about cleaning either the brush, or the nib. You can let one color run into the other, and even add some undiluted paint straight into the nib, and watch it slowly run out. It’s almost like you’re creating a gradient within your strokes!
Step 4: Draw the Yellow Flowers
Once you have your stems and leaves, you can move on to the other colors, starting with yellow. The first thing you should do is give your nib a good clean, to get rid of all the green that might still be caught in it. Then, mix your yellow (I am using hansa yellow, light and dark), keeping it as pure and concentrated as possible. Drop it in your nib, and use it to draw the wattle blossoms and the pollen on the silver princess flowers with simple dots.
Remember, you’re not trying to be perfect here, so you can sprinkle your blossoms a bit randomly: try to channel nature, always a bit disheveled and wild!
Step 5: Draw the Pink Flowers
Once you’re done with yellow, clean your nib, and move on to pink. Mix some rose with a point of red to obtain a typically Australian warm, fiery pink (I am using quinacridone rose and pyrrol scarlet). With undiluted color, use quick, graphic strokes of your nib to represent the fluffiness of the silver princess flowers.
To draw the protea, no need to clean the nib, simply dip it in water to obtain a softer hue. The extra water will also create delicate, flowy strokes, perfect for the velvety beauty that is the protea. Start by drawing the petals, working from the bottom to the top of the flower, then go back to your undiluted pink to draw the heart of the flower.
Now, it’s time to let the paint dry!
Step 6: Add Watercolor Accents
Once your drawing has dried, gently erase your sketch, and switch to your Studio round brush in size 2. Starring with the greens, add some watercolor accents to your leaves: no need to color in the lines though! You can paint half a leaf, or add color to its tip, once again keeping your hand loose, relaxed, not overthinking your movements. Let yourself be a bit messy… it’ll make for a much more animated, lively painting!
Switch to a diluted, watery pink and repeat the process: add a light wash to your silver princess flowers, to the tip of each protea petal, to the heart of the flower… And of course since we’re using watercolor, don’t hesitate to layer a bit. It’s the best thing about this technique: we can have super sharp, clean lines, AND lovely color layering and transparency.
Finally, go back to your pure, concentrated yellow and layer some big wattle blossoms, wherever you feel like your drawing is a bit unbalanced.
Et voilà! A super sweet, lively little bouquet! I hope you enjoyed making this one with me, and if you share your own version on social media, please feel free to tag me as I’d love to see it! Thank you and happy drawing!
See all of Amandine’s tutorials here!
At age four, Amandine announced to a bewildered family that she would become a children’s book illustrator, and grew up writing and illustrating short stories. Fast forward to present-day, not much has changed: Now an award-winning author and illustrator, her playful illustrations and empowering stories make big themes accessible to little humans all around the world.
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