How to Draw a Vibrant Sunflower

Sunflowers are such tall, vibrant and beautiful flowers. Just the thought of a field full of these beauties can capture your imagination and take you into a magical place. What better way to capture this feeling than through art by learning how to draw them in colored pencils?

Follow this step-by-step tutorial to draw a colored pencil sunflower in 7 steps

Step 1: Base drawing

As usual, begin with a rough sketch of the flower. Since we're planning on using colored pencils, we have two different options when it comes to drawing the base sketch.

  • Draw the sketch with a graphite pencil using very faint lines that won’t come through the colored pencil layer later on
  • Draw the whole sketch with a colored pencil in a light color that the flower already has (such as yellow or light orange). Doing this will help you avoid being left with any dark pencil marks later on.

I drew my sketch with a 4B graphite pencil and passed an eraser over it to leave very faint lines as a guide. But feel free to choose the method you're most comfortable with.

Step 2: First layer of pigment 

Next, start coloring our flower. Begin by lightly shading the darkest parts of the center and laying some of the main shadows. Depending on the lighting, some sunflowers my have a reddish tone in the center, which you can color in during this initial layer.

Step 3: Adding more pressure

After the first layer, you can start building up the colors and pressing down on each pencil a little bit more. This will help the colors mix better together and fill in all the tiny white areas left exposed on your paper.

Step 4: Shading the petals

With the center ready, you can now make your way to the petals. Notice how the petals on a sunflower tend to have a slight shadow around the center, where the petals meet the stamen (the center), and get brighter and lighter yellow as they are more exposed to light. You can start shading this area with an orange and a burnt umber. Then blend these two layers together by pressing down with a yellow pencil.

Step 5: Petal shadows

Continue to work your way outward on the petals by using a darker color, such as a grayish green or blue. Very faintly shade some of the petals in the background and add some light crease lines to the front petals. 

Step 6: Top layer

Now you're ready for the final layer of pigment on the petals. This is the step that brings it all together and gives your drawing a more realistic look. Using a set of orange and yellow pencils, press down hard as you color and blend all the previous layers of pigment together.

Step 7: Coloring the stem and leaves

Lastly, using a light green pencil, color the stem and leaves in their darkest areas. Use a hint of yellow over them where the light hits them to add a touch of light to it and give your drawing more dimension. 

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April 27, 2018
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How to Draw a Vibrant Sunflower