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Flower "Paintings" With Colored Pencils: Step-by-Step Guide

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I've been creating since I was a child. My hobbies include watercolor, drawing, art journaling, painting rocks, sewing and crochet.

These colored pencil studies of flowers look just like paintings!

These colored pencil studies of flowers look just like paintings!

How to Draw Flowers With Colored Pencils

These flower paintings—we call colored pencil drawings 'paintings' because, well, they look like paintings—are straightforward and absorbing to do. You don't need any special drawing skills because the outline is traced. All you have to do is some clever coloring.

I made one a couple of weeks ago and thought it might be good enough to give to my mother for her birthday. In fact, I enjoyed the process so much, I had to do another. You can see the results at the bottom of the page; they look pretty in their frames. I chose inexpensive wood frames, but you could get frames even cheaper by shopping for pictures at thrift stores and removing the originals from the frames.

Now my sister has said she'd like two for Christmas and I have seen some glossy black frames that would go really well in her modern home.

Here is the step-by-step process of creating these pretty flower paintings with colored pencils.

Note: All images and text are copyrighted, but please feel free to share on Facebook and Pinterest.

Colored pencils

Colored pencils

Necessary Materials

Supplies for this kind of art are pretty minimal.

  • Colored pencils: The biggest investment will be the colored pencils themselves. If you intend to do lots of colored pencil drawings, then it makes sense to buy the best, and the largest set you can afford. I use Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils because they are rich in pigment and blend really well, which is essential when drawing flowers.
  • Paper: The second consideration is the support, the paper. I prefer watercolor; my sketch pad is actually a Fabriano Classico Fat Pad A5 9" x 7". I find the ever-so-slightly textured surface is perfect for these drawings.
  • Soft pencil and eraser
  • Graphite stick (helpful but not essential)
  • Your computer will also be useful
  • 1 sheet of printer paper
  • Colorless blender
  • White gel pen

Step 1: Find Your Flower

The first thing you need to do is locate a suitable flower. Daisies, sunflowers, and gerberas all make good subjects and are not too complicated. Have a look at photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Flickr. I can't share my source photo here because it is not copyright-free. However, my drawing is sufficiently different from that photo to make it unrecognizable.

Step 2: Trace the Flower

Once you have decided on an image, take your printer paper and hold it over the screen. You will see the image shine through quite clearly. Using a softcore pencil, lightly trace around the outline of the flower. If you can draw, then you can skip this stage. You may need to tape the paper to the edge of the screen to prevent movement.

When you are happy, place the traced drawing, face-down on a suitable working surface. Use your soft pencil or graphite stick to work over the whole drawing.

Turn the paper over and position it on your sketchbook or paper. Again, you may need to tape the printer paper to the support to prevent it from moving. Trace over your drawing, applying enough pressure to transfer the graphite, but not so much that you leave an indentation on the support.

Remove the printer paper and you should have a working outline of the flower on your sketchbook/paper.

Click on the thumbnail photos below to see each step.

Step 3: Map Out the Colors

Before I do anything else, I erase as much of the graphite lines as I can, while leaving enough visible that I can just see them. Then I apply color all over the drawing. Using the appropriate colors I hold the pencil at an acute angle so that it is almost on its side. This prevents me from inadvertently drawing hard lines. All I am doing is marking out the stripes on the petals and giving the background an initial layer of warm yellow.

The two colors used are Light Magenta and Canary Yellow.

As you can see, this is purely for guidance. This first layer will be assimilated and covered up in the final drawing. I am careful to leave some areas on the petals white (refer to the photo).

Step 4: Shade the Petals

Color on the petals is built up lightly, layer after layer. I use an assortment of pinks and purples. These are all the colors (don't forget these are Faber-Castell colors; yours may be different).

  • Light Magenta
  • Magenta
  • Dark Magenta
  • Manganese Violet
  • Light violet
  • Violet
  • Dark Violet
  • Madder

Later on, I also use dark blue and dark red to add shadows:

  • Indanthrene Blue
  • Wine Red/Burgandy

Click on the thumbnails to see how the petal evolves.

Roughly mapping out the colors on petals and background.

Roughly mapping out the colors on petals and background.

Step 5: Color the Background

I started off with the layer of Canary Yellow and went on to add more color. Not all over, but in patches. My initial intention was to have a yellowish background but I didn't like it, so I took my favorite Blue-Green and work all over the background, making the color more intense near the flower.

Colors used on the background are:

  • Canary Yellow
  • Light Ochre
  • Terracotta
  • Gold
  • Indanthrene Blue
  • Brown Ochre
  • Wine Red
  • Blue Green

Step 6: Color the Flower Center

Once the petals are about done (there's always more to do before it's completed), it's time to work on the center. I had already marked out the yellow stamens and blue florets so just made little yellow star shapes and curled blue florets.

I worked around these with a light brown-purplish pencil, and then built up layers of alternate red and blue:

  • Mortuum Violet
  • Delft Blue
  • Wine Red

At the same time, I darkened the insides of the petals to make it look as though where they grow out of the flower head is deeper than the slightly poufy center. My aim was to get a glowing black (I hardly ever use actual black as it can deaden the painting).

Again, click through the thumbnails to see how it went.

Step 7: Complete the Painting

I leave the painting for a while and then look at it with a critical eye. I darken up some areas and use an eraser to lighten others. When I am happy I work all over the picture with a colorless blender. This has the effect of pushing the pigment right into the paper and softening any harsh lines.

Finally, I add some sparkling highlights with my white gel pen.

The finished flower painting, ready for framing.

The finished flower painting, ready for framing.

The two flower paintings for my mother's birthday.

The two flower paintings for my mother's birthday.

All framed up - a birthday gift for my mother.

All framed up - a birthday gift for my mother.

© 2012 Bev G

Flower Power Comments!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 16, 2016:

Thank you, Sakina. I just wish I had more time to explore the use of many more materials and mediums. Have fun with your drawing :)

SakinaNasir53 on December 15, 2016:

Hi Bev! This hub is absolutely amazing. I just love your art. I admire creative people a lot. Drawing is my most loved hobby after reading. I love coloring (my personal favorite) over paints, crayons and markers. I am pleased and satisfied while looking at your adorable piece of work. Your coloring just gave me more idea about blending colors to make a background. ☺ I would surely love to try this out!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 06, 2015:

Glad you enjoyed it, Helga.

Helga Silva from USA on December 05, 2015:

Looks amazing! I could never imagine you can create such magic with color pencils.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on July 27, 2015:

Many thanks, Adev.

Arun Dev from United Countries of the World on July 27, 2015:

Good instructions and beautifully painted flowers! Voted up and shared!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on March 06, 2015:

Thank you, Kristen. Very glad that you enjoyed it.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on March 06, 2015:

Just beautiful, Bev. What a lovely creative idea. Sounds like fun to do. Voted up!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 08, 2015:

My pleasure, Jazmin. Enjoy your drawing.

jazmin on January 07, 2015:

i love to draw thank you for telling me how to draw a beautiful flower

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 18, 2014:

Thank you so much, peachpurple. x

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 18, 2014:

there are so many magenta color pencils?? I didn't know that. Artistic , talented and gifted

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 26, 2014:

Thank you, Elsie, you are very kind. I do hope you give it a go. x

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 25, 2014:

I love the paintings that you gave your mother. I will have a go at doing one of these. You are very artistic. Thanks for sharing.

a.S.i. on June 23, 2014:

easily understandable, your passage; good source of motivation to venture the color pencil-painting. thanks for sharing

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on March 17, 2014:

Kind words, kiddiecreations. Thank you.

Nicole K on March 17, 2014:

Your work is awesome! Thanks for sharing your expertise :)

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 09, 2014:

Thanks, uNicQue, I expect your flowers will be gorgeous!

Nicole Quaste from Philadelphia, PA on January 08, 2014:

These are beautiful. I received a wonderful new set of colored pencils for Christmas, and I think I will break them out to try these flowers :) Thank you!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 17, 2013:

Glad you liked it - thanks for Pinning! I love ideas that make life just a little bit easier. I saw my daughter tracing off the computer screen to create coloring pages for herself and thought, 'Oh, yes, I could do that..'

Fiona from South Africa on December 17, 2013:

I can see why your sister also wanted some for her birthday these look great. I also love the idea of tracing straight off the computer screen - I always battle to get the initial shape right. Thank you also for the step by step tutorial - I had to Pin it to keep it for reference.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 16, 2013:

Hey Ilona1, nice to meet you. Perhaps you need softer/waxier pencils? The secret to deep color is to layer until no more pigment can be held on the paper surface.

Ilona from Ohio on August 16, 2013:

Inspirational guidance for creating with colored pencils. Mine always looked washed out compared to your technique.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on July 19, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by, larakern x

larakern from Georgia on July 19, 2013:

This is a great tutorial! I will definitely be making some of these! Thank you for sharing.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on February 20, 2013:

Angels gratefully received :) Thank you. Have a flower... xx

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 20, 2013:

These are so lovely. They do look as if they are painted. Wow. I would love some, thank you.

Sending you many Angels for sharing your talents with us. :) ps

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on February 16, 2013:

Thank you, Green Art. I must do more!

Laura Ross on February 16, 2013:

Wow, what a great tutorial and such beautiful work you've done here. Totally enjoying this hub from start to finish! Vote up and beautiful!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 20, 2013:

Thank you, Kathryn. I might do some today - it will help the illusion that spring is coming!

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on January 19, 2013:

Those are beautiful!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 14, 2013:

Many thanks, Georgina. Really appreciate your comment and ratings.

My grandparents used to live on Dartmoor, and my father lives in Newton Poppleford :)

Georgina Crawford from Dartmoor on January 14, 2013:

Beautiful flower paintings, and I loved your step by step article. Rating up and sharing.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on January 06, 2013:

Hi Rosie & drosostalitsa, thanks so much for your lovely comments.

@Rose: a colorless blender looks like a gray pencil but it is actually the binder (the basic material used in the pencil core) without any pigment added. Rubbing it over previously laid-down marks helps to soften and blend them.

Audrey Surma from Virginia on January 05, 2013:

These are very beautiful "paintings". I will be forwarding your hub to my sister, an art teacher. What is a colorless blender? I am looking forward to trying this out - hope mine look half as good as your - really amazing. Pinned!

drosostalitsa from Greece on December 28, 2012:

beautiful paintings.. thank you so much for sharing!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on December 03, 2012:

Thank you, Abdul :) I wouldn't go as far as agreeing with you about the 'great', but it is appreciated nonetheless.

Abdul Wahab from Yanbu Al-Bahar, Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia on December 02, 2012:

ohh... so beautiful and full of colors. you are a great artist.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 07, 2012:

Thank you, Chrissie. Yes, it would be like creating spring in the middle of winter!

chrissieklinger from Pennsylvania on November 07, 2012:

This is something I can keep in mind to do if we get stuck inside over the winter months. I love it!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 03, 2012:

@Joy56 Mwah! One day, maybe. xox I used to teach computer applications a long time ago, and was always involved in training of some kind. Art... don't know; it seems more like a personal journey.

Joy56 on November 02, 2012:

oh you could, it must be easier to teach in person, than putting these hubs together. a video or c.d. would be good.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 02, 2012:

Thanks for the pin, 2uesday (best profile name, ever!).

2uesday on November 02, 2012:

I pinned this as I am not good at finding things for a second time when I need them.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 02, 2012:

Hi Maria Cecilia, glad you feel inspired. Have a look on Flickr for 'daisy', or 'gerbera'. There are so many beautiful flowers to choose from. Thanks so much.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on November 02, 2012:

I am very much interested with this, I always wanted to find something new in my art and I guess this is the best, I will try this one... I just need to know where you get the flower or I will need to read this again.. thanks for this hub. voted up

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 02, 2012:

Oh, Joy, how lovely of you! I really appreciate that. Don't know if I could teach art in person :D Maybe one day I'll try a video?

Joy56 on November 02, 2012:

your work is so amazing, i have posted some of your work, on my facebook page. i must try this, I love your syle, would love to get to lessons from you.... in person. You make it all look so easy

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on November 01, 2012:

Hi Learn Things Web. Thank you, and indeed, these flowers are easy enough for a child to do :)

LT Wright from California on October 31, 2012:

My daughter loves doing art projects. This is a really good idea for kids as well.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 31, 2012:

LOL. My new kitten has to play with whatever I have in my hand and he has a predilection for pencils! What a cutie. I'll have to wait until he is napping.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

It's definitely not difficult, Austinstar. Grab those pencils and beat them into submission!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on October 31, 2012:

This looks like it would be easy and fun to do! I have got to get out my colored pencils and try it. I'll pencil it in for my 'spare' time :-)

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

JoanVeronica - thank you. You lift my spirits every time you leave a comment - you are so encouraging.

RTalloni - blush. Thank you.

RTalloni on October 31, 2012:

Your work here is good enough to be made into prints! There's no doubt that your mother will love them for both reasons. :)

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on October 31, 2012:

Hi there, so wonderful! I had heard of something like this, I've seen people drawing large poster by projecting an image on a background wall covered by a large sheet of paper. A lot of my friends that do crewel embroidery get black and white prints of enlarged photos and then trace them off. This version looks so practical, I really must try it! The colors are so beautiful, I feel my spirits rising just by looking at your Hub! Congrats and have a good day! Voted up, etc. and shared.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

LOL! Judi Bee - my 11 year old daughter taught me to do it! She used to trace her favourite TV characters right off the screen for instant colouring delight. My mum will love them because I made them - not because they are good. Mothers are good like that :)

Judi Brown from UK on October 31, 2012:

Tracing from the computer screen - I would never have thought of that! Love your art hubs, you make great projects very accessible. Sure that your Mum will love the pictures.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

Thanks so much, RTalloni! Sorry to distract you, but when you get the time, perhaps you could let your flowers bloom!

RTalloni on October 31, 2012:

Beautiful work! Thank you for sharing your mother's gift with us in this how-to hub. It makes want to stop the projects I'm working on and give this a go right now. However, I will stay the course on current work and keep this in the forefront of my mind!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

Thank you, Natashalh. I think that's why I love art - it's playtime for me!

Natasha from Hawaii on October 31, 2012:

So pretty! When I was a kid I had some color pencils that you were supposed to get wet and use like paint. Sort of...anyway, this remind me of that and brought back some fond memories =)

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

Me too, Carol. I always thought 'why buy colored pencils when water solubles would do the job?'. There is a difference though and I'm glad I bought my Polychromos-seseses :D Thanks for the vote-up. Much appreciated.

carol stanley from Arizona on October 31, 2012:

Whenever there is a hub on art instruction I grab it. I have shied away from colored pencils, but you have made it far more accessible and easy to follow. I will try this and let you know of my success. Great and informative hub. Voting up +++

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

Hi Dbro, many thanks for your comment. Yes, I have a hub that reviews water-soluble pencils. I started with them about 20 years ago but never bothered much with regular colored pencils - I love them now. You can also use them like watercolor pencils with a non-toxic solvent. x

Dbro from Texas, USA on October 31, 2012:

Lovely hub, theraggededge! You've done a great job of describing your process. I've just recently discovered water-soluble colored pencils. They are great fun and very vibrant. Have you tried them?

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on October 31, 2012:

Thank you, Peggy :) My mother's birthday isn't until the 15th November, so she has to wait a little yet. I do enjoy creating gifts - last year they all got scarves and painted rocks!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 31, 2012:

I am sure that your mother was very pleased with your flower paintings as your sister will also be when you make them for her. Original art is always a nice gift and also fun to create. Am sure your clear instructions will have more people trying their hand at creating some for themselves. Nice job! Up votes and will share.