Guide for Drawing Flowers with Pens

Updated: 02 Apr 2022

Guide for drawing flowers with pen and ink

In this guide, I demonstrate how to draw any flower, from simple to complex, using a pen.

Well-executed flower pen-drawing is all about accuracy of the structure (form), with attention to foreshortening and overlapping.

Concept Art

First thing first, do not use concept images that are protected by copyright law.

In case someone likes your drawing and wants to buy it, it is best to use images that are free for ANY use.

Here are some websites that let you download FREE stock images:

Pixabay

Unsplash

Pexels

StockSnap.io

FREEIMAGES

*Taking your own photos is the best solution to create unique drawings and compositions.

How to Create Smooth Lines with a Pen

For a pen drawing to look nice, draw each mark with confidence. Meaning, a smooth line.

That is easier said than done!

With time and practice, the lines will flow. Until then, start with a pencil.

The advantage of a pencil is that it is erasable. Therefore, you can fix mistakes until you are happy with the result.

So grab your reference image and draw it with a pencil. Draw it gently, so it will be easy to erase later.

Note:

The pencil drawing does not have to be perfect. Remember that nature is abstract. There are no two identical flowers.

Pencil sketch of a hellebore flower from reference Reference image & pencil sketch

Once the pencil-sketch is ready, it is easy to go over it with a pen. Do it in a confident and smooth way, even if the pen marks are not exactly on top of the pencil marks.

When drawing with a pen, it is important to pay attention to overlap.

Draw the foreground parts first. In this case, draw the stamens first, and only then draw the petals.

After the ink from the pen is dry (usually less than a minute, depending on the pen brand), it is safe to gently erase the pencil-drawing marks.

Pen and ink drawing of a hellebore flower Hellebore flower pen drawing

How to Draw a Complex Flower

Some flowers or compositions are quite complex. You should pay attention to proportions, foreshortening, and perspective.

This is too much to deal with when starting to draw.

A solution to this problem is to create a grid of guidelines. Then, instead of one complex image, you have several smaller and simpler images.

To find the middle point of an image, draw two diagonal lines from the image corners.

Next, draw horizontal and vertical lines from the midpoint.

Finding the center of an image Finding the center & creating a grid

Do the same for the drawing-paper. Make sure the ratio between height and width is the same for both the reference image and the drawing-paper.

You can crop the reference image to get the same ratio.

Now it is easier to draw with a pencil.

Note:

If the image is still complex for you, you can keep adding grid lines for each rectangle.

Pencil drawing of a lily flower Drawing with a pencil

Remember to use the pencil gently. It will be easier to erase after you draw with a pen.

Pen and ink lily flower drawing Lily flower pen drawing

Good to know:

If you do not fully understand terms like overlapping, perspective, and foreshortening, I highly recommend reading my guide on drawing the illusion of depth.

Which Pen to Use for Drawing Flowers

While it is possible to draw or sketch with a regular pen, there are many advantages for using pens for artists.

These pens are called fineliners or technical pens, and their ink is usually black, though some brands offer additional colors (more on that later).

Fineliner pens for drawing flowers Fineliners

Pens for artists create lines of uniform thickness, and they come in different sizes, therefore enabling to draw thick contour lines, or thin lines for details.

The ink of these pens is made of pigments, and it is very durable.

To learn more about which pen to use, visit my review for recommended pen brands for drawing.

Line Width & Size

When drawing with a pencil, you can draw soft edges for far away objects.

Pens have one brightness value, and therefore cannot produce soft edges.

Instead, you can use a pen with a smaller nib size to create thinner lines for background objects, and bigger nib size to create thicker lines for foreground objects.

Using different nib sizes to draw flowers Different nib sizes

Using lines with different thickness to add depth:

Pen and ink tulip flowers drawing Tulip flowers

Another way to add depth is with size.

When drawing in perspective, the farther away an object is, the smaller it looks.

For that reason, draw bigger flowers in the foreground, and smaller flowers in the background.

Sunflower pen and ink drawing Sunflowers

Tip:

To add depth, draw the background flower smaller, use a pen with smaller nib size for it, and make the foreground flower overlap it.

Hatching and Crosshatching

Hatching is a drawing technique that uses parallel lines.

A pen produces lines with one brightness value (usually dark).

In order to create the illusion of different brightness values, meaning areas that look lighter and areas that look darker, use different types of hatching.

Hatching and crosshatching types Hatching types

Use thin hatching lines for light areas.

By using different degrees of crosshatching, you can create the illusion of different brightness values:

Hibiscus flower pen drawing using hatching Hibiscus flower

Line Types with Pens

As mentioned above, a pen has a single brightness value, but when holding a pen in a sharp angle, it can produce a less defined line, and therefore create a second brightness value, which is lighter.

This does not work with all pen brands, or on super smooth paper.

For this to work, draw swift yet gentle strokes (do not press hard).

Holding a pen in different angle Pen holding angle

Practice on drawing different brightness values, and then on a gradual transition from light to dark.

Different brightness values drawing with a pen Different brightness values with a pen

Example:

Pen and ink drawing of a rose flower Rose flower

How to Add Insects

Drawing takes time.

Trying a new thing, like adding insects or other objects, can be risky.

A practical way to deal with this situation is to start by drawing the new object.

Pen drawing of a ladybug Drawing a ladybug

When the result is successful, you can continue drawing.

Pen drawing of narcissus flowers & a ladybug Narcissus flowers

To draw insects, visit my insect drawing guide.

Examples from the insect drawing guide

Keeping it Simple

Sometimes, only a few lines can be more than enough.

It is possible to draw lines with a short line or a dot at the end, suggesting a line that gradually disappears.

Types of lines with pen Dots and short lines

The middle part of a flower may seem complicated to draw.

The way to draw it, is to look at the basic shapes it is made of, and their direction.

How to draw the middle of a flower Paying attention to shapes and direction

After drawing the basic shapes, it is important to look at brightness values.

For areas that look darker, draw more lines to create the illusion of darker brightness values.

Common daisy flower pen drawing Common daisy

The next example is a step-by-step drawing for a Muscari plant (grape hyacinth).

It usually has some closed flowers and some open flowers, so practice both:

Step-by-step drawing for muscari flower Flowers step-by-step

Now you can draw the whole plant.

Muscari pen drawing, aka grape hyacinth Muscari pen drawing

Ink Color

Pen drawing is not limited to black ink. As mentioned above, some brands offer additional colors.

Nevertheless, the drawing process is similar.

First, focus on accurate drawing. Pay attention to foreshortening and overlapping.

Then, get the brightness values right. Remember, draw more lines to create the illusion of darker values.

Lastly, some artistic license is more than welcome.

Blue ink example:

Drawing of an anemone blanda flower with blue pen Anemone blanda flower

Red ink example:

Anthurium flower drawing with a red pen Anthurium flower

Remember, try to be as accurate as possible and then focus on brightness values.

Make sure there is enough contrast between light and dark areas. That way, the drawing will stand out.

Sepia ink example:

Argyranthemum, margerite with sepia pen drawing Marguerite flower

You can combine pens with different colors:

Japanese quince flowers drawing with colored pens Japanese quince

Foreshortening

An object in front of you looks smaller when it is far, but it keeps the ratio between height and width.

Foreshortening is a distortion that occurs when looking at an object (or a plane) along the line of sight.

In this example, you can see how a remote control looks shorter in height than in width, as you look at it along your line of sight:

Distortion of a remote control by foreshortening Foreshortened remote control

When drawing flowers, pay attention to foreshortening in order for the drawing to look realistic, and interesting!

Side view flower pen drawing Foreshortened flower

In many cases, some petals are foreshortened, while others are less foreshortened.

Pen drawing of a Gazania flower Gazania flower

To understand foreshortening better, with many examples, visit my guide for drawing from imagination.

Contrast & Image Editing

Contrast is essential for an appealing drawing or painting.

The blackness of a technical pen on the whiteness of a drawing-paper will produce contrast.

The problem lies when taking a photo.

For me, the best time to take a photo is at daylight. But, when completing a drawing at evening or night, I am eager to upload it to my website or to social networks.

My apartment lighting is less than ideal, and it produces a warm, weak light, resulting in a yellowish flat photo.

To fix that, I use an image graphic editor (ANY image editing software will work) to decrease saturation and increase contrast. Problem solved!

Lotus flower pen and ink drawing Lotus flower

Killing it on Social Media

To succeed on social media, you have to consider many factors. For example, good content or SEO.

After analyzing successful flower-drawing Instagram accounts, I found a few tips and techniques that work.

1. Draw bold!

Meaning, draw thick, noticeable contour lines:

Poppy flower pen and ink drawing Poppy flower

2. Small images

A pen drawing has its limitation. A small pen-drawing image looks better than a close-up.

To do that, take a photo of your flower drawing (or sketch), including its surrounding.

For example, the actual flower you used as reference, a step-by-step process, pens you used, and so on.

In addition, remember that most people use their smartphone for social networks, so a tall image occupies more screen space, and therefore has more presence.

Snowdrop flowers pen and ink drawing Snowdrop flowers (Galanthus)

3. Draw big

Drawing on a large paper sheet, like size A4, allows you to add more details and then, the small photo for your drawing looks more refined.

That said, simple drawings with little detail-work, do well too.

Keep in mind:

Complex flowers or compositions are challenging and time-consuming, even for experienced artists.

Carnation flower pen drawing Carnation

4. Floral art

Once you are comfortable drawing a specific flower, you can draw a full paper sheet of that flower. (Another option is to draw several types of flowers).

Pen and ink drawing for cosmos flowers Cosmos floral art

Painting the background in black adds contrast:

Pen drawing for cosmos flowers Cosmos flowers

For the background, I used Zig Real Brush marker. Here is my markers review for artists.

5. Mix it up!

Any plant, leaf, fruit, vegetable, or tree, are complementary to flowers.

Pen drawing, bonsai tree Bonsai tree

If you like drawing trees, visit my easy guide for drawing trees with a pen (including MANY examples).

Examples from tree drawing guide

6. Do your thing!

After practicing with flower-drawing, you will start to develop your own style. That is the best way to succeed.

You can use colored paper-sheets.

Gerbera flowers and book pen drawing Gerbera flowers

Or combine different mediums (mixed media).

In the next example, I drew wheat using a pen. For the rest (crumpled paper and pin), I used graphite pencils.

Realistic wheat drawing using a pen Wheat pen drawing

Important:

Quality photography (and editing) is important, with attention to contrast (both when drawing, and when taking a photo).

Summary

After some practice with drawing flowers using pens, it becomes quite fun and relatively fast to produce.

Where to go next?

For learning to draw realism, visit my guide for drawing in a realistic style.

To understand composition, start here: composing a still life for drawing.

If you like using pens, you might be interested in my DIY guide for drawing maps.