In today’s tutorial, I’ll teach you how to make a beautiful lily illustration using a gel pen, water, and gold watercolor. If the thought of freehand drawing terrifies you, fear not: I’ve included a traceable printable to make the project approachable and fun!
If one of your goals for 2024 is to get in some more creative me-time, try creating this eye-catching monochromatic illustration with a touch of gold! I adore this project because all you need is a gel pen and some metallic watercolor to make it. It’s the perfect example of how less can be more.
1. Gather Your Supplies
First, you’ll need to gather your supplies. As I mentioned, you don’t need much! Pictured below are the exact supplies that I used:
If you prefer to use the Traceable Lily Outline to make this project, simply trace it the outline onto your 5″x7″ (12.7 cm x 17.78 cm) paper using a light box or a bright window. If you choose to free-hand draw your lily, begin by using your pen to make a diagonal line that’s about 1/2″ (1.3 cm) long. Then, draw five wavy filaments and a stigma.
Next, turn the diagonal line that you just drew into a downward-facing triangle/petal. Then, draw three more petals behind the filaments and the stigma.
Finish up this part of the flower by drawing five more petals behind the first four.
Next, draw a thin stem underneath the flower. The stem should have a little, slightly curled leaf coming off of it.
Draw another stem behind the little leaf. That stem should end with a long leaf that extends to the right.
Extend the stem upward, and end the stem with a closed flower.
Now, draw two large leaves. One should extend to the left, and one should extend to the right.
Finish the leaves by drawing one last leaf behind the other leaves. This leaf should be fairly vertical.
Are you intimidated by this step of the tutorial? Don’t be! Remember that the Traceable Lily Outline is here to save the day. Just use a light box or a bright window to trace the outline onto your 5″x7″ (12.7 cm x 17.78 cm) piece of paper, then move on to the next step.
Now, use your pen and a light, quick touch to draw a dark stripe down each flower petal.
Then, draw a thick, dark line down the middle of the leaf on the left. Fill in the rest of the leaf with sparse, thin lines.
Repeat this technique with the other leaves. Then, add dimension to your closed flower by reinforcing some of the contouring strokes.
Finish up this step by drawing some faint and sparse pen lines on each petal.
4. Add Water
Now, moisten your small paintbrush with water. Go over all of your leaves with the water, and have fun with the way that the water activates the ink!
Once you finish the leaves, your lily drawing will look something like this:
Now, use just a bit of water and a light touch to activate some of the ink on the petals. Don’t fill in the petals in their entirety; otherwise, the flower will be too dark.
5. Add Gold Watercolor
Now, moisten your gold watercolor. Wait a minute for the water to meld with the pigment, then use your paintbrush to apply gold to the tips of the petals and the middle of the flower.
Next, add gold to the tips of the leaves and the top and bottom of the closed flower.
At this point, you can use your paintbrush to draw slightly displaced gold outlines on top of the petals and the leaves.
6. Put on the Finishing Touches
Now, use your paintbrush and water to pull some ink around the outside of the flower and the leaves. This effect won’t be super dramatic; instead, it should look subtle, like the example below.
Finish up by drawing around the gold outlines that you made in the previous step. Then, add a few random, tiny dots around the outside of the flower. I love this little detail because it adds some life to the piece!
Once you’re finished, if you wish, you can initial the piece. After all, you worked hard and deserve the credit!
At this point, take a step back to admire your work. You’ve just made something eye-catching and pretty, so revel in that. (Think, too, about other flowers you could make — I’ve used this technique to illustrate a hydrangea, too!)
Then, think about how and where you’d like to display this piece. It looks awesome in a floating frame or cleanly matted into a larger frame. Alternatively, you can take a cue from my mom, who is the owner of this piece. She used a plate stand to prop up the lily. Since the paper is so nice and heavy, the illustration stays put very nicely.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial! It’s a fun, relaxing, and just-the-right-amount-of-challenging activity that will sharpen your illustration skills and call on your creativity. Remember, if you’re intimidated by step 2, you can always download and trace this outline. There’s no shame in tracing; it’s a great way to learn. Thanks so much for reading, and happy creating!