How to Draw Lupine Step-by-Step

How do you draw lupine? So many little parts. Tackling a complex subject requires a game plan. Break a big task down into little steps. Start in the middle at the bottom and work your way up. A methodical system will help you keep focused and oriented.

Drawing Plants 2.062-001A lupine inflorescence is challenging because you have to draw the same flowers again and again at all angles. With a little strategy, you can save a lot of time and your drawing will look better for it. Begin by understanding the flower itself. Draw one blossom from the front, 3/4 view, and from the side. Study how the shapes of the flowers change as you go up the stem (the flowers age from oldest to youngest as you go up).

Frame in the shape of the inflorescence with your non-photo blue pencil. Then, starting in the middle of the lowest row, draw the central flower. With a little less detail draw the next two flowers on either side. With an even lighter touch, suggest the shape of the flowers in the background. Now move up to the next level and continue to the top. Click on the first image to start a step-by-step slideshow.

How to draw an Iris: part 2

Iris flowers have a complex shape and curving petals, making them difficult to begin to draw. Build your sketch from simple shapes to detail. Here w learn to draw an iris from basic forms and place the petals using negative shapes.

Drawing Plants 2.037-001Start with the central axis and proportions. Imagine a center line through the flower. This helps you see the symmetry and helps you draw a tilted flower. There are many ways you can draw your initial shape. I use simple shapes such as circles to rough out the form. Do not make this part of the drawing too complex. The goal of these first lines is to locate the major elements of the flower so that you can check the proportions. Double check your proportions before you continue. It is easy to change now. It will be difficult later.

Drawing Plants 2.038-001Find the circles. Look carefully at the flower to find any circles in its structure that you can use as guides. Here I use three, the tips of the large (petal like) sepals at the bottom, the tips of the (petal like) pistil in the middle, and the tips of the erect petals. Note that from this view you are looking down on the first two circles and up at the last.  The circles become more elliptical the closer they are to the level of your eyes.

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step slideshow.

How to Draw an Iris: part 1

I am overwhelmed when looking at a wildly curling Iris petal. But I have learned to calm those worries with a systematic approach to constructing the petal. Close one eye and look at each plane, top or bottom as an angular flat shape. Imagine each as a separate shape like pieces of odd-sized glass. To see each shape accurately, try contour drawings of these shapes until you get the feel for it. The individual pieces will not look like petals. When put together they become something extraordinary, your stained glass window.

With practice it become lots of fun to find and describe the twisting forms of nature with your pencil. The key is to give up your notions of what a petal should look like and accept the real shape before you.Drawing Plants 2.034-003

Shape vs. Structure

There are two ways of visualizing what you want to sketch, seeing shape and structure. Block in your sketch using shapes then refine your drawing by double checking that the structure is accurately observed.

curling ribbon shapeA curling ribbon is a good model to begin thinking about surface shapes. Train your eye to catch the shapes formed by the green and blue sides. Each section has distinct angles and curves that are more easily seen and drawn in isolation from the rest of the ribbon.

curling ribbon structureOnce you have blocked in the drawing with shapes, back up and observe the structure. The near and the far edges are continuous lines. The purple and blue edges do not have to be the same shape. You also see the surface of the ribbon between the edges at every turn (green lines).

If you are drawing a leaf, start by visualizing the top and bottom surfaces. See the top and the bottom surfaces as individual shapes. Join them to create a leaf. Then draw the close edge with a heavier line to connect the parts of the leaf and to emphasize distance and space.

leaf shape

Now think about the structure. To make sure your mid-vein and the far side of the leaf emerge at the right spot, imagine you can see through the leaf and follow the curves of the lines that are blocked from your sight. These should make smooth curves (or in some cases loops).

leaf structure

How to Draw Wildflowers 2 (video workshop)

This is the second of a two part series on drawing wildflowers. Watch part 1.

Enjoy the beauty of spring wildflowers. Drawing them will help you get to know them better and will help you see aspects of your favorite wildflowers that you have never noticed before. This workshop will teach you:
  • How to draw tight clusters of white flowers (yarrow etc).
  • How to draw curling and twisted petals and leaves (Iris, orchids etc.).
  • How to draw bilaterally symmetrical and tube-shaped flowers (Monkey Flowers).
  • How to draw flowers with many complex repeating parts (Lupine).

How to Foreshorten Leaves: Advanced

The way to foreshorten leaves that are oriented toward you or at a right angle to your line of sight is fairly straightforward. The proportions of the leaf will change but the leaf will remain symmetrical. However, when a leaf (or petal) is foreshortened and the axis is oriented at a 45 degree angle to your line of sight, it becomes asymmetrical. The more that one side of the leaf tip points toward the observer (while the other does not) the greater the asymmetry will be. Once you start looking for this asymmetry you will see it in petals and leaves everywhere.

To help you intuitively understand these changes, download and print the leaf model and follow along as you study this post, comparing what you see in the model with the demonstrations. To get this effect to work with the leaf model, hold the model at eye level, close one eye, rock the leaf back to a steeply foreshortened angle and then (keeping the angle) point the leaf tip over one of your shoulders.

Click on the first image to start a slide-show tutorial.

How to Foreshorten Leaves: Basics

Learning to foreshorten leaves will allow you to draw them from any angle, adding life and dynamism to your sketches. Foreshortening causes some surprising distortions of the leaf shape.

To help you intuitively understand these changes, download and print the leaf model and follow along as you study this post, comparing what you see in the model with the demonstrations.

Click on the first image to start a slide-show tutorial.

How to Draw a Cone-shaped Flower

The shape of the ellipse of the outer edge of the cone and the location of the flower bottom are the two most important reference points to catch in your preliminary sketch. This fairly stiff demonstration emphasizes the geometry of the shape. Keep these steps in mind when drawing a real flower. This framework will help you capture the geometry of the flower. On top of this you can add the individual character and twists of individual petals (a topic for another blog).

Click on the first image to start a step by step slideshow.

How to Foreshorten Flowers: Disk vs. Cone

Flowers with petals in a flat disk foreshorten differently than cone-shaped flowers. The center of a flat disk will always appear at the center of the ellipse that forms as you tilt the disk, viewing it from an angle. The center of a cone will drop from the center of the ellipse as you tilt the cone away from you. The steeper the sides of the cone, the faster the center will drop as you tilt it.

You will see the center point of the cone inside the bowl of the cone (that forms the ellipse) until it drops below the edge of the cone. Then it appears below the cone and you start to see the underside of the cone.

Print out a paper flower model and modify it to create a cone to follow along with this demonstration. Then click on the first image to start the tutorial.

How to Foreshorten Flowers: widths, lengths, and angles

Flower ForeshorteningStudy the way that angles and proportions change on a foreshortened flower. Petals and the negative spaces between petals that connect to the short axis (top and bottom) of a foreshortened ellipse keep their width but become shorter. Petals and negative spaces between the petals that connect to the long axis (sides) of a foreshortened ellipse keep their length but become narrower. Because the proportions of the top and bottom petals change, they may appear to get wider while the side petals appear to get longer. This is an illusion as you can see by following the red lines in the illustration on the right.

The diagrams below highlight subtleties in these changes. In the first column, I have taken a simplified flower shape and squished it to replicate angles seen in foreshortened flowers. I then rotate the flower shapes so that the petals point to different points around the circle and re-squish the flower. Finally I rotate foreshortened (squished) flowers so that the long axis of the ellipse is no longer horizantal. As you study this post, it will help to hold a paper flower model that you can tilt and study. Download one here.

Click on the first illustration to start a step by step sideshow.

As you foreshorten flowers, notice changes in petal width and length. Petals closer to the vertical position get shorter but maintain their width. Petals closer to the horizontal position get narrower but maintain their length.

Now observe the negative spaces between the petals and the length of the arc segment between each petal. Arc segments on the top or bottom of the ellipse are longer with wider petal angles than on the sides.

Flowers can rotate on three axes. The flower may rotate within the circle as we see in the first row. The flower may tilt toward or away from you as we see in the subsequent three rows. Finally the axis of the foreshortened oval may also tilt as in the last row.