Make Your Own Summer With a Colored Pencil Sunflower Drawing

You don't have to wait 'til summer to spruce up your space with sunflowers. With just a few colored pencils, you can easily create your own bright blooms, no matter the season!

Colored Pencil Sunflower

What You Need

  • Paper
  • Graphite pencil (optional)
  • Colored pencils (in yellows, oranges, browns, greens and a dark blue)


1. Create a Base Drawing

As with any drawing, the first step to making a beautiful colored pencil flower is to make a rough sketch. And because we're using colored pencils as our chosen medium, we have two options: Sketch with a graphite pencil, or a colored pencil.

If you choose to use a graphite pencil, it's important that you draw very, very, very lightly. That way the graphite won't show through the colored pencil later on. If you choose to draw with a light colored pencil (think, yellow or orange), you won't have any dark pencil marks to worry about as your drawing develops.

Here, we chose a 4B graphite pencil and passed an eraser over it to leave just the faintest of faint lines as a guide.

2. Add the First Layer of Pigment

If you used a graphite pencil to draw the flower's outline, put it away for good — from here on out, we're all about colored pencils.

We're going to start in the center of the sunflower (aka the head) and work our way out. Lightly shade the darkest parts of the center to lay some of the main shadows. Study your reference photo or physical flower (depending on what you're drawing from) to determine what colors to use. For instance, depending on lighting some sunflowers might have a reddish tone in the head, which you can color in during this initial layer.

3. Add More Pressure

Once your first layer is complete, start building your colors and pressing down harder on your pencils. This will help the colors blend together and fill in all the tiny white areas left exposed on your paper. Be sure to build your colors slowly — it's easy to darken a light area, but much harder to make a dark area lighter.

4. Shade the Petals

When you're satisfied with the center, move on to the petals. Like the head, petals are not all one solid color. The sunflower's petals start with a shadow near the center of the flower and get brighter and more yellow as they move out and are exposed to more light.

To build this foundation, lightly shade the petals around the head with orange and burnt umber. Then blend the colors by going over them (again, lightly!) with yellow. To finish this base layer, extend the yellow to the tips of the petals. (Note: you should only be coloring the front layer of petals at this stage).

5. Add Petal Shadows

Now fill in the second layer of petals — but not in yellow! Instead, use a dark color like a grayish green or blue to very faintly shade in the petals. This will make the petals in the finished drawing darker, which is what we want since in nature, this second layer isn't exposed to as much sun as the first. If you want, use this dark color to add some very light crease lines to the front petals as well to add depth and texture.

6. Detail the Top Layer

This final step brings everything together and gives your sunflower a more realistic look. Use your orange colored pencils to embellish the shadow near the head. Then color over all your petals in yellow, pressing down hard to blend everything together.

7. Color the Stem and Leaves

To finish up your flower, color in the stem and leaves with a light green colored pencil. Just like when you were drawing the petals, use the most pressure in places where shadows fall. Then make the highlights by coloring over the green with a bit of yellow to give your drawing even more dimension.

And you're done with your little bit of DIY sunshine!

Find Your Next Project

Wanna learn to draw more flowers? We've got all the know-how. Keep practicing layering and blending colored pencils to master that realistic 3D look, or change it up with a new medium — pastels.

If you love to draw with beautiful bold colors, we've got great news — you're not limited to colored pencils. Pastels are a ton of fun and simple to master once you know how to work 'em.
Whether we're filling up a vase or creating some new artwork, roses have our hearts. And while it's always hard to compete with nature's beauty, colored pencils do a pretty darn good job of getting this flower's deep, romantic color just right. Want to draw one? We'll walk you through it.
Sara Barnes
You know those amazing flower drawings that almost look real? That's the magic of colored pencil, and learning how to do it is easier than it seems. Start with a photo you love, or even a real bloom, and see how far you can get!
Sara Barnes

February 13, 2019
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Make Your Own Summer With a Colored Pencil Sunflower Drawing