Top Tips To Easily Elevate Your Floral Illustrations

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Hey friends, it’s Sarah from @essjay_florals and I’m sure a lot of you are already aware that I am floral obsessed. So of course, I thought it was time to share some tips on elevating your florals! I really hope you find these floral tips handy!

materials for floral illustrations

Here are the materials I used for this illustration, but of course you can substitute to match what you have or would like to use:

  • Archer & Olive x Pypah Collab Sketchbook which you can get over here.
  • Graphite pencil (I am using Faber Castell in B)
  • Eraser
  • Fineliners (I’m using Sakura of America Pigma Microns in 05 & 01)
  • Reference images (included in the printable)

Remember you can use my affiliate code SARAH10 to get a discount on most Archer and Olive products!

 Let’s get into the tips

  • Use simple shape guides to help keep your proportions. For me I almost always break it down into circles (which as you can imagine works for most florals)

guidlines in pencil

  •  When picking reference photos, use ones with unique angles and combine from multiple photos to help make the composition truly your own. (see the printable with the photos I shot and combined for this composition)

reference photo examples

  • If using a reference photo don’t try to match all the petals exactly but try and get the general shapes that draw your interest. I’ve found anytime I get too caught up in trying to replicate a reference that’s when it becomes hard work and doesn’t turn out right.
  • Make sure you include some irregularities to the petals, and an even better way to add interest is including petals with unique angles and folds.
  • Make your leaves different shapes and sizes and give them some irregularities including little tears and folds

outline of whole drawing

  • When adding leaves to your flowers try including 2 or more peeking out from the blooms as it tends to be more pleasing (and realistic) having multiple leaves.
  • Layering! By making flowers and leaves overlap it draws more interest to your illustration as well as making it appear more realistic.
  • Use multiple size fineliners, a thicker fine liner for outlines and a finer one for shading, a great way again to add interest.
  • Shade from the centre of the flower (and petal) following the natural veins of the petals (not sure what I am talking about look at the close up of the printable)

 floral shading

  • Try not to get caught up on any mistakes, whether it be shading or outlining. With shading you will rarely notice those mistakes as you build it up and if it’s the outline that you’ve mistakenly made wonky, remember nature is beautifully imperfect so any line errors are definitely fine.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t stay true to real flowers or leaves, rather focus on creating something that you actually enjoy the look of and are proud of.
  • IT'S ALL IN THE IRREGULARITIES! Nature is perfectly imperfect, so make sure you celebrate that and don’t get upset if a line isn’t exactly as you wanted it to be.

I really hope you have found these tips useful, if you have any others, please leave a comment. If you’d like to use my reference photos, download the free printable over here.

free floral printable

And create along with me here:

I’d love to see your recreations or take on these tips, and don’t forget to tag myself at @essjay_florals & @archerandolive if you’d like to share!

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