How to Draw Plants

This video series, created with the California Native Plant Society will teach you some basic techniques to help you quickly and accurately draw plants, either for field sketching or careful botanical illustrations. These videos make use of paper models which you can cut out and manipulate to teach yourself the fundamentals of foreshortening leaves and flowers. Following along with your own model is much more helpful than simply watching the videos alone.

Download a leaf and flower worksheet to follow the exercises at home.

If you are a teacher, you can download PDF templates to create classroom sets of materials to teach botanical illustration to your students. Download the multiple leaf template and multiple flower template. Also you can create large demonstration models to use in front of the class.

 

How to draw plants: Introduction

How to draw plants: Symmetry

How to draw plants: Foreshortening part 1

How to draw plants: Foreshortening part 2

How to draw plants: Leaves and petals

How to draw plants: Curling leaves, part 1

How to draw plants: Curling leaves, part 2

How to draw plants: Conclusion

 

 

 


Comments

How to Draw Plants — 18 Comments

  1. Hi john, first, i want to thank you for the drawing plants series. i struggle with drawing, and your vids clarified for me this fundimental knowledge, essential if one wants to get any where drawing plants. will you be continuing this series?, i do hope so. and where (if anywhere) can i see the 6th video , curling leaves. regards neil

    • Thank you so much Neil. I have now posted the sixth video (split into two parts). I hope you enjoy it. Let me know about other topics you would find helpful and I will see if I can develop online materials to meet the need. The most important thing is to keep drawing. The more you draw the easier it becomes.

    • Drawing is not a gift. It is a skill that is developed by practice and that anyone can learn to a high degree of proficiency. If you don’t do it, you will not get better. Throw yourself into it for one year. At the end of that year, you will emerge with the skill solidly under your belt.

  2. Ok, I agree it is a skill. A skill that can be developed. But like most skills you may or may not be able to develop that skill into the level you want whether you practice for one year or a lifetime. Some people can and others or most can not. Yep, they can draw, or paint and it looks nice with practice. But the product is not competitive with true artists and eventually you come to that realization.

    It is like playing baseball, or writing, or playing chess. You can practice at chess for a solid year, learn all the openings, memorize a thousand games, get actually pretty good and some 10 year old with a 1800 ranking will absolutely kill you in the game. You are solid, you learned, you practiced, and you can beat most people but you will never get to the levels you want to reach.

    Sorry, so much in life is like this. Practice, skill, more practice without a gift of specialized talent will leave you searching for the level you will never reach. You see it over and over again in all forms of life. Business, sports, music, art, and a hundred other daily activities.

    I don’t know what you call it but “it” is a key ingredient. Doesn’t mean with practice you can not get good you just will never reach the levels you want to reach. Sometimes that is great for many of us. Most of the time we move onto something else.

    Lladro

  3. Hey John

    Thank you for the helpful videos, symmetry has always given me a bit of trouble, your videos have filled me with great ideas =) Thank you man, I hope you are keeping well and continuing your wonderful work, you are a kind person =) Edward

  4. Your videos are great and an inspiration to those of us less talented that we may also be able to do basic drawings. You make it look so easy yet your videos are so informative. You help a lot of people to do something they may never have considered.

    Thanks
    Wayne

  5. Thanks so much for putting these videos together! I have to draw 8 different plant specimens for a horticultural assignment, including all leaves, stems, flowers and fruit. What seemed to be an overwhelming task now feels a little more achievable thanks to your tips for drawing leaves and flowers.

  6. John, Excellent series! I have been journaling 2 tmes per week since the Sierra course. Remember, evidence has shown that 30 continual days of an activity makes for a habit to form. We have a cabin near the campus and have returned a few times after the course to find a whole new way of observing!

    Question for portraying a leaf: the view is frontal and Only the top surface is seen. The distal point of the leaf is either curling up or away. I have struggled with this and I have not seen this specific view addressed in the series. Thanks for any help that can be offered. Nick

  7. John
    I recently started drawing again and am using Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” to improve my drawing. Your videos on drawing plants is beyond words. It complements what Betty Edwards writes about so well. I am a visual learner and your videos make understanding perspective drawing so much more understandable for me. Botanical illustration may be what I concentrate on for some time.
    Thank you so much for your generosity in making these wonderful videos. Your teachings skills are superb.

  8. Thank you so much for these videos. I homeschool my children and my daughter – who is 7 – is wholeheartedly interested in science/ the natural world. We are always learning together and nature journaling. She loves drawing everything from insects to flowers, to mammals to birds. I am learning as I go so I can better guide her. Do you have an available
    class for nature drawing that is ongoing or do you have a set of videos that teach all of your methods- such as a set of DVDs available?
    Thank you so much for this.
    Amal

  9. I just wanted to learn to make basic drawings right along side my journal entries. These videos have been so helpful. Thank you for sharing your know how.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>