I’ll admit it: I felt a bit intimidated by drawing this flower when it was requested by TPK readers via Instagram. However, the demand for a sunflower illustration tutorial was undeniable, so I put the pencil to paper and began! Let’s dive into how you, too, can create a floral masterpiece!
- Handmade paper
- Pencil of your choice (be sure you can use it to blend!)
- Black Muji pen (size 0.38mm)
- Size 0 watercolor brush
- Gold sumi ink (or any gold watercolor)
1. Begin with the Center of the Sunflower
The first element of the sunflower you’ll want to start with is the center. Begin by drawing an organic, loose circle about an inch and a half in diameter with a pencil.
Next, draw a smaller circle within the first circle.
Begin adding little circles to represent the seeds in the sunflower’s center. I found that a more oblong shape gives the center the look of starburst-like seed structure.
Once the true center of the sunflower is filled with seeds, add some shading to the circle that you drew in the first step.
Add some dashed lines in the outer ring and then shade them with your finger to smudge the graphite!
Add some larger seeds extending to the outermost circle.
Pencil in some of that empty space in the center to create more shadow and depth in the center! Sunflowers have rich, dark centers; and the shaded graphite around the seeds gives us that effect.
Next trace over most — but not all! — of those seeds with your black ink pen.
Add stippling (remember, “stippling” means adding little dots with your pen) to the areas we previously shaded with pencil. This adds even more dimension to the darker areas!
Then, add some little lines extending out from the border of the larger circle for a little extra detail!
And you’ve done it! You should take a moment to congratulate yourself because the sunflower’s center is the most intricate part of the tutorial. It’s all gravy from here!
2. “Petal” to the Metal
And now we’re jumping straight into the petals! First, draw the initial layer of petals with adequate space between them, like so:
Now, add another layer of petals.
Next, add lines emanating from the base of your petals to add detail and definition!
Once you’ve stippled, dashed, and all that jazz, it’s time to shade again with the pencil. Scribble softly over the bases of the petals. Also add some shading behind the petals in the foreground!
Finally, get in there with a finger and blend the pencil to make the shading look a bit more gradual and natural.
3. Leaves, Leaves, a Magical Shoot…
The first sunflower leaf in this tutorial looks a bit like a heart. (That’s what I imagine to help myself illustrate the shape!) Keeping that in mind, go ahead and sketch the first leaf with your pencil.
Then draw the veins of the leaf, and the shoot (or stem) of the flower.
Now draw the second leaf behind the shoot, like so:
Just like we did with the center of the sunflower, go ahead and shade those leaves in with your pencil.
Now, using your black ink pen, outline the leaves and the stem of the flower.
Finally — say it with me now — let’s stipple!
4. Wonderful Watercolor
Similar to the first two floral tutorials, you’ll add some texture and depth to this flower using just a small watercolor brush and tap water to pull ink and graphite around the paper. Add the water and shading to the naturally darker areas of the illustration!
Finish up by using your ink pen to draw a few dots in the area surrounding the flower.
5. Not All that Glitters is Gold … Unless it’s Sumi!
Use your gold sumi ink (or gold Finetec watercolors) to add detailing around the piece. I added gold wash to individual petals, some shadowed areas, gold contour to petals and the stem, etc. The world is your oyster, so get creative here!
To really top it off, add some gold dots to the center of the flower to echo the seeds we drew in.
You’re Officially an Artist!
Yep — you’ve done it! You’ve drawn a beautiful, eye-catching, and shimmering sunflower.
Sunflowers are a “happy” flower that symbolize adoration, longevity, and loyalty. So, upon wrapping up this little flower tutorial series, I want to thank you all for being so loyal to these tutorials. Lindsey and I have so enjoyed seeing the results of your floral tutorial tries via email and social media! My last semester of university just started, so you might notice fewer blog posts from me, but I absolutely plan to write the occasional tutorial in the near future!
To recap, you can find the first two tutorials in this series here: