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Painting Flowers with Colored Pencils

Updated on April 12, 2016
All rights reserved
All rights reserved | Source

Simple Flower Drawings

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 to creating these pretty flower paintings with colored pencils.

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

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.

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Supplies for Colored Pencil Paintings

Supplies for this kind of art are pretty minimal. The biggest investment will be the colored pencils themselves. If you intend doing 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, but you would do just as well with Prismacolor.

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.

Then you will need:

  • A soft pencil and eraser.
  • A graphite stick is helpful, but not essential.
  • Your computer will also be useful too.
  • One sheet of printer paper.
  • Colorless blender.
  • White gel pen.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Placing printer paper over the image on my laptop screen and drawing round the outline.The rough outline completed.Working over the back of the image with a graphite stick.Positioning the outline onto the sketchbook, ready for tracing and transferring the image.The graphite outline transferred on to sketchbook page.
Placing printer paper over the image on my laptop screen and drawing round the outline.
Placing printer paper over the image on my laptop screen and drawing round the outline. | Source
The rough outline completed.
The rough outline completed.
Working over the back of the image with a graphite stick.
Working over the back of the image with a graphite stick.
Positioning the outline onto the sketchbook, ready for tracing and transferring the image.
Positioning the outline onto the sketchbook, ready for tracing and transferring the image.
The graphite outline transferred on to sketchbook page.
The graphite outline transferred on to sketchbook page.

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 on 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.

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 soft core 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 on your sketchbook or paper. Again, you may need to tape the printer paper to the support to prevent it 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 to the right to see each step.

Roughly mapping out the colors on petals and background.
Roughly mapping out the colors on petals and background. | Source

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 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 your photo.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
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Shading 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.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Working on the background.
Working on the background.
Working on the background. | Source

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

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mapping out the stamens.Darkening, layer by layer.
Mapping out the stamens.
Mapping out the stamens. | Source
Darkening, layer by layer.
Darkening, layer by layer.

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 - hence why I hardly ever use actual black as it can deaden the painting.

Again, click the thumbnails to see how it went.

Completing the Flower 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. Copyright. All rights reserved.
The finished flower painting, ready for framing. Copyright. All rights reserved. | Source
The two flower paintings for my mother's birthday.
The two flower paintings for my mother's birthday. | Source
All framed up - a birthday gift for my mother.
All framed up - a birthday gift for my mother. | Source

Flower power comments, please!

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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!

    • Dbro profile image

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      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?

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      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 +++

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      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 =)

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      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!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      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.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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 :)

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      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.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

      RTalloni - blush. Thank you.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      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 :-)

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      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.

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 4 years ago from California

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 4 years ago

      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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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?

    • Maria Cecilia profile image

      Maria Cecilia 4 years ago from Philippines

      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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 4 years ago

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 4 years ago

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      @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.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Abdul Wahabone profile image

      Abdul Wahab 4 years ago from Yanbu Al-Bahar, Al Madinah, Saudi Arabia

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • drosostalitsa profile image

      drosostalitsa 4 years ago from Greece

      beautiful paintings.. thank you so much for sharing!

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 4 years ago from Virginia

      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!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      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.

    • Georgina_writes profile image

      Georgina_writes 4 years ago from Dartmoor

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

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

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Those are beautiful!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 4 years ago

      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!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

      Thank you, Green Art. I must do more!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 4 years ago from Wales

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

    • larakern profile image

      larakern 3 years ago from Georgia

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      Thank you for stopping by, larakern x

    • Ilona1 profile image

      Ilona 3 years ago from Ohio

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      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.

    • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

      Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

      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.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      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..'

    • uNicQue profile image

      Nicole Quaste 3 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      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!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

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

    • kiddiecreations profile image

      N Kiddie 3 years ago

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 3 years ago from Wales

      Kind words, kiddiecreations. Thank you.

    • profile image

      a.S.i. 2 years ago

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

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 2 years ago from New Zealand

      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.

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

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

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      Thank you so much, peachpurple. x

    • profile image

      jazmin 2 years ago

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

      My pleasure, Jazmin. Enjoy your drawing.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 2 years ago from Wales

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

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 22 months ago from United Countries of the World

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 22 months ago from Wales

      Many thanks, Adev.

    • Helga Silva profile image

      Helga Silva 17 months ago from USA

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

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 17 months ago from Wales

      Glad you enjoyed it, Helga.

    • profile image

      SakinaNasir53 5 months ago

      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!

    • theraggededge profile image
      Author

      Bev 5 months ago from Wales

      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 :)

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