Drawing tip: Improve your drawing by really seeing your object
If you are working from a reference photo, hold a pencil and pretend to trace over the lines. This forces you to pay attention to the direction of curves and shapes and really see what you’re observing, rather than think you’re actually seeing it. Do this for a few rounds until you feel comfortable that you have a good sense of what you’re about to draw.
You could also hold the pencil wrong way around if you didn’t want to risk marking your reference photo.
Drawing tip: Get better at drawing by allowing yourself to have draft lines
When you’re drawing petals for flowers, make time to really see and observe the flower. Using your reference photo to pretend to trace over the lines will allow you to realise the fine details of the petals. Help you realise that some flowers have petals or leaves have slightly wiggly edges rather than assuming they are smooth lines.
It’s funny, drawing warmup exercises often make you practise drawing smooth lines before you get started to actual drawing. But you may find that sometimes you have to call upon your unsteady hand to provide you with the means of wiggles and create that visual interest. Especially when drawing poinsettias, you definitely need wiggle to those edges.
Sometimes I find that I’m too smooth with my petal contour lines and have to go back and purposely add unevenness. And this is completely okay. No one said that your first line had to be your final line. That’s why we are starting with a pencil. All these lines are drafts until we’re happy to finalise them. Sometimes I feel like there is this misconception that if you can’t draw a perfect line at first go, that means you can’t draw at all. And I’m guilty of thinking this in the past. But this is not true at all. Just like you have the freedom and right to write a sentence, edit it several times until you reach what you want, and finalise it, why can’t drawing be the same? Well, it is the same.
Drawing tip: Allow yourself to have draft lines in your drawing
Allow yourself to have draft lines in your drawing. And also to draw in layers (a combination of draft and final line layers). I want to take a moment to explain what I did this when I was drawing the peony. I worked in layers of draft and final lines with the center of the peony, where I needed to add more and more stamens, whilst overlapping one another to create a ring around the pistol.
I added some stamens to the peony centre (sparingly) with a pencil. Then once I was happy with those, finalised those with a fineliner. This defined layer one (this is also the topmost layer – the foreground stamens).
Then added more stamens with pencil, allowing myself to overlap on of top of the existing fineliner linework. The overlap was to ensure that I was correctly emulating the curved lines behind the existing stamens. Then I finalised this second layer by only tracing the non-overlapping pencil marks, representing this layer of stamens as the stamens in the background, behind the first layer.
Then I continued implementing the same steps as I did in the second layer – continually adding more stamens and inking as described above until there were heaps of stamens.
Drawing tip: Even if your drawing is not identical to your reference photo, if you just emulate the genetic characteristics of your flower, you are on the right track
When you’re learning a new skill, self-doubt and negative self-talk are at their peak. If the direction of your stamens are not exactly the same direction as they are in your reference photo, don’t worry about it. There is so much diversity in nature, with little subtle differences, that you having your stamens at a slightly different angle than your reference photo is completely okay.
As long as you correctly emulate the genetic characteristics of your reference object eg. the way it curves and bends, then you are doing fine.
Drawing tip: Ensure that you correctly draw your overlaying flower petals
Beware of how you connect the edges of two overlapping petals, one in front of another. Make sure that you are creating the illusion of a foreground petal and a background petal.