The lotus flower is a mystical and spiritual symbol in many different cultures – most prominent in Eastern religions as a symbol of purity, rebirth, and enlightenment. It is a beautiful symbol to use in an artwork of your own – and a lotus flower drawing would certainly be a special gift for a loved one.
So, how can you create your own lotus flower drawing?
Lotus Flower Drawing: Step by step
Step 1- Collecting your reference material
Whenever you paint a plant or flower, it is a good idea to get a clear and good quality reference image to work from.
Work from your imagination
You can work from your imagination, but the truth is that most people’s brains leave out important information about the original flower. As a result, the flower may be more stylized or simplified than the original.
If you want to paint a flower or plant in a more abstracted or expressionistic manner, then it is absolutely fine to work with a more stylized, simplified drawing. In this case, drawing from your imagination would work well.
In this painting demonstration, I wanted to capture the smaller details of the lotus flower, as well as the soft, pink, feminine aesthetic.
Work from your own photos
Drawing from your own photos is a great way to come up with unique ideas and compositions. You also have first hand experience on what the lily looks like in a real-life situation. This gives you a better idea of how the subject matter “sits in space’ so to speak.
Work from a free stock photo
Because I wanted a level of naturalism in my artwork, I chose to work from a photograph of a lotus flower that I found on unsplash.com.
If you cannot get your own photographs of your chosen subject matter, then you can always use free images from unsplash.com or pexel.com. There are a huge variety of free stock photo sites on the web, but these two are the ones I have used the most for good reference photos.
Step 2: Decide on the size of your drawing
I find that working on an A4 or A3 sheet of watercolor paper is a good size to start off with for botanical art. The cherry blossoms I painted are on an A4 sheet of paper.
I would recommend sticking to at least A4 in size, because if you work any smaller you may struggle to get a good amount of detail in your drawing or painting.
Interestingly enough, working on a larger surface is a lot easier than on a smaller surface.
With a larger sheet of paper, you can accentuate details and there is space to enlarge tiny areas. Your brush strokes can be wider and there is more room for error in a sense.
Step 3: Composition and rough drawing of the general shapes of the lotus flower
Once you have decided on the size of the paper you will be working on, you can think about your composition and then draw it out in pencil.
Think carefully about how you will position your Lotus flower on your page. It’s a good idea to position your subject matter off-center in order to make your artwork more interesting.
I recommend using a 2B lead pencil to first softly sketch out the general shapes of the lotus petals. Make sure you are applying only a very light pressure onto the pencil to achieve very light pencil marks on the page.
A lily and it’s petals, at this angle, fits into an oval shape.
Step 4: Defining Form
Once you have sketched the light general shapes of the lotus flower, then you can start going over the petals again and making changes and alterations to your shapes in order to get your subject matter looking more accurate.
At this stage of the process, you can also use your artistic license to add elements like additional leaves, stems or buds to your artwork to complete the composition.
Step 5: Begin shading
Remember to check where your light source is! This is so important in order to accurately draw forms and get a sense of three-dimensionality. Your shadows will fall opposite your light source.
There are several shading techniques you can use to shade in your lotus flower – cross-hatching, hatching, scribbling, stippling, and grading.
I personally find that using combination of shading techniques to build up density of form and deepen my shadows works really well.
Step 6: Continue shading and add the markings to the petals
Continue to deepen you shading and shadows.
Step 7: Final Details
Carefully observe you drawing and deepen any shadows that need to be darker, while lightening your highlighted areas. You can use you kneadable eraser to pick up pencil marks in order to lighten specific areas.
If you would like to take your pencil drawing a step further, you can add color to the lotus flower by applying soft washes of watercolor paint over the pencil.
Leaving the pencil mark visible gives the drawing a retro and vintage quality to it and it can be really effective!
Step 8: Paint washes of your lightest color
As you begin painting with watercolor you will be using a technique called wet-on-dry. Essentially that means you are putting paint on your paintbrush and then painting directly onto the dry surface of the page. This is a good way to start because you have more control over the areas you are painting color.
Once you have defined your shapes using your initial color you can then work into them using a technique called wet on wet.
Wet-on-wet is where you paint you paint your watercolor paint onto a watery surface. The color then blooms and bleeds and creates interesting washes of color. This is less controlled than wet-on-dry, but I love watching how the watercolor pigment creates gorgeous textures and patterns as it dries.
I painted very soft washes of pink over the petals of the lotus flower.
Step 9: Layers of washes to darker areas of the flowers
Continue to paint layers of washes on top of one another to build up depth and deepen shadow areas.
Step 10: Last Elements
Paint washes of green on the impressionistic lily pads and Payne’s grey to add a sense of depth to the water.
Remember the following when drawing…
Make sure to stand back regularly to observe how your drawing is developing. It is also important that you give yourself mental and visual breaks so that you can continue to draw accurately.
Remember to keep your pencil sharp. This is important because often we get so engrossed in our drawing that we forget that a sharp pencil helps with fine lines and details.
It is a good idea to always have a scrap piece of paper nearby, in order to test out your shapes and shading techniques!
List of materials and supplies needed to do your own Lotus Flower Drawing
2B, 4B, 6B and 8B Pencil
Scrap piece of paper for testing colors
300gsm Watercolor Paper: If you want to add a wash to your drawing you should definitely do your drawing on a good-quality, heavy paper that doesn’t buckle.
Soft Bristle Round or Filbert Brush
Watercolor pans or tubes. I am currently using the Windsor and Newton Watercolor Pan. The colors are rich and the tray itself is portable and easy to use.
Drawing a lotus is a fun and easy sketching project for beginners as well as more advanced artists. I hope you have found my advice on techniques and materials to be useful as you begin your own lotus flower drawing!