sunflower drawing

Sunflower Drawing – A Vibrant Drawing Tutorial for Beginners

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Learning how to draw a sunflower is a great way to work on your understanding of texture and shadows. Sunflowers have unique features, with soft yellow petals and a rough black disc floret that are strikingly beautiful. This beautiful and iconic flower is not only a great addition to your drawing toolkit, but is a great learning curve when it comes to technique and shading. Sunflowers are also versatile visuals that can easily be added to a variety of different artworks and landscapes. Drawings of sunflowers look amazing as the artwork itself, and is essential for the drawing repertoire.



Step-by-Step Guide on How to Draw a Sunflower

In this tutorial on how to draw a sunflower, we will start with a simple sunflower sketch, where we take our time to form the flower. From there, we will work with layering colors into our flower, slowly refining the details as we go. We will find that building up the sunflower in layers will teach us how to establish various colors that represent a realistic coloration in our sunflower drawing. From there we will proceed to add some contextualizing features, such as the stem and leaves. Now that we know what to expect from our sunflowers drawing, let’s get into it.

sunflowers drawing


Step 1: Drawing the Basic Outline of the Sunflower

We can begin by establishing the center disk floret of the sunflower, which can be drawn as a circular doughnut shape. We want to try and draw it from an angle to give the sunflower sketch a unique perspective.

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From here, we can proceed by drawing in the petals of the sunflower. Sunflower petals are quite arrowhead-shaped and have quite a narrow tip. We will aim to establish these arrowhead petals around the entire disc floret. We can also start to darken the disc floret as we proceed with our sunflower sketch. We want to make sure we maintain the ring quality within the disc floret as this will establish the thicker rim of the disc floret structure in the center of the flower.

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As we proceed with drawing in the various petals, we want to make sure that we keep them quite narrow in some areas to suggest an overlapping action between some of the petals. We want to be conscious of the shape of the petals as they rotate around the disc floret.

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As we proceed with this process of creating these arrowhead-shaped petals, we want to do so as we circulate the entire disc floret structure. We want to make sure we take our time with this process as we work through the sunflower petal drawing process.

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The intention is to establish a sunflower outline drawing, which we can then lightly erase and use as a guideline for building up the different layers of color in our sunflower drawing.


Step 2: Adding the Base Layer of Yellow to the Sunflower

Sunflowers are not just yellow, but rather, they have a few colors present due to the effects of shadows. However, we want to build up these layers from lightest to darkest, starting with a light yellow. This is where we start to cover our sunflower petal drawing. We want to use our sunflower sketch as a means of guiding us in our coloring process. The intention is to build up layers of color, we start by outlining our sunflower sketch with a light yellow. We can also start to sketch yellow into the disc floret, slowly shaping it with some yellow sketching marks.

Again, we want to work on all features and build their colored layers from lightest to darkest.

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We can start to fill in the petals with a very light color of yellow, this way we can start to represent the lightest tones within the petals.

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Step 3: Adding a Darker Yellow for Shadow in the Sunflower

We now want to work with a darker yellow color, which we will then use to define some shapes in the petals. We want to think of the petals as a soft structure that has subtle curves and bends which cause a shadow formation. We want to work through each of the petals within our sunflower, slowly working around the entire sunflower structure until we have added some shading to each petal. We also want to develop the shading from the base of the petals and make more narrow marks as we shift toward the tip of each petal.

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As we work through each petal we can also consider how some petals are overlapping others and this might cast a shadow on the petal beneath it. Take your time working in the marks to give more structure to each petal. As you work in these shadowed lines you will start to see how the sunflower becomes more three-dimensional as you build up these shad formations.

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Step 4: Adding Brown for Details and Darker Shadows

Starting with the disc floret we can begin to add in some brown shading and linework, to add more shadow formation around the cylindrical structure. We want to make sure we keep in mind the little ray florets, which we can represent by integrating little lines into the disc floret.

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We can also start to look at these brown shading marks in the petals. It is important to note that shadows aren’t just black but rather darker versions of the color that they sit on. In this case, we use brown to represent a darker yellow which defines shadowing in the flower.

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The process of integrating these shadows is the same as the previous step, where we slowly work these shadows into the petals one at a time. Again, consider how the petals curve and overlap one another which then will cause shadow formation on the surface area. Having thin strokes of darker shadowing in each petal also defines the ripple features within the petals. Consider the structural nature of the sunflower petals as you proceed with your sunflower petal drawing process.

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We can continue this process of slowly darkening the flower and its various features with this brown coloration. We can also add little lines into the disc floret to establish more of a grainy texture within this particular feature. As you continue with this process, you will start to see how these various layers affect the three-dimensional quality of the flower. Just make sure you take your tie and consider the structural nature of these various features. We also want to make sure that there is a darker coloration at the base of the petals as they connect to the disc floret.

We want to also consider darkening areas on the petal where this disc floret would cast a shadow on them.

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Step 5: Adding the First Layer of Yellow to the Sunflower

We can now start to use little hints of black marks to define certain shadowed areas a little more significantly. This is especially useful for areas where the disc floret casts a shadow on the petals.

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A good suggestion would be to darken the areas where the base of the petals connect to the disc floret. This is going to establish a connection point that is highly shadowed and gives more depth to the disc floret as it sits on the petals.


Step 6: Sketching the Stem and Leaves

Now that we have established the sunflower head and its main features, we can start to add in contextual features such as the stem and the leaves. We can start with a simple sketch of the stem structure and leaves.

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We want to make the stem slightly thicker than that of the branches that connect to the main stem. We can also add some leaves to the smaller branches that are connected to the main stem.


Step 7: Adding Color to the Stem and Leaves

The intention here is the same as it was for the sunflower head, where we build up layers from lighter colors to darker colors. We want to work with greens and yellows within the stem of our sunflower sketch.

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We can also keep the darker greens in our stems and leaves to one side, this way we have a consistency within the shadow formation in our sunflower.

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We can also work in some yellow coloration in the areas that are more illuminated or exposed to the light source. We want to make sure that our leaves also have this flat arrowhead shape to them.

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As we color the leaves, we want to think of the fact that some areas of the leaves will be more exposed to a light source. This means the top of the leaf might be lighter than the bottom of the leaf.

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Take your time building up the layers of color, as we do this we will find that the placement of these colors will provide the sunflower with more three-dimensionality.

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We can then add some detailing with a darker green color, which we can use to work in the vein feature within each leaf. We can also start to refine their shape with some linework.

drawings of sunflowers

As you continue with this process of layering colors in the stem and leaves, we will start to see how the sunflower becomes more contextualized.

outline sunflower drawing

You can continue this process until you have worked on these colors and details for all areas of the stem and leaves. The more time you take on building up these layers of color and detail the better it will be for your drawings of sunflowers.

sunflower sketch

You can also play around with final details like linework, stippling, and many other little marks to suggest texture on the surface of the structure.

sunflower petal drawing

And that is how to draw a sunflower in a few simple steps! Drawings of sunflowers are not difficult once you understand the process, now you can apply this process to your own sunflower sketches.



Tips and Tricks to Remember

  • Establish the outline of the sunflower drawing first. Once you have the shape of the features, you can then integrate color and detail.
  • Build up your sunflower with layers of color. You want to work layers on top of each other for a more enriched visual quality.
  • Work details on top of the colored features. Once you have established the base color, you can work details in with darker colors.
  • Break up the features as you work on them. Go through each feature of the sunflower one at a time.

sunflower drawing


Drawings of sunflowers can be done in various ways, however, when you approach it with this layering process, you can then build up a more realistic coloration within the flower. Once you work out the outline of the sunflower drawing process, you can then work on the sunflower petal drawing part, where you layer various colors. The same process can then be applied to the stem and leaves.



Frequently Asked Questions


How Do You Draw the Petals of a Sunflower?

Sunflower petals are quite narrow and elongated, and have an arrowhead shape to them. You also want to give a loose and curved shape to them due to their thin and soft texture. As you draw in the petals, we can make them more realistic by overlapping some and giving a twisting quality to some similar to that of a ribbon. This ribbon-twisting motion will give the sunflower drawing a more realistic representation of how sunflower petals form around the disc floret. As you work on the sunflower petal drawing process, try to keep these ideas in the back of your mind.


How Do You Draw the Center Disc of a Sunflower?

The center feature, or disc floret, is quite dome-shaped or cylindrical, which makes it protrude slightly from the surface of the petals. We want to make sure we emphasize the curved surface area by shading along the curved areas that are exposed to the light source. We also want to integrate some little lines and dots to represent the ray florets within the disc floret. The ray florets are little stem-like seeds that stick out from the disc floret and are quite dark in coloration. So, working with yellows, browns, and black as you add in these little strokes of lines is a great way to realistically represent these features within your sunflower drawing.

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