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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 copyright, 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 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.

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.

Scroll to Continue

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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: