How to draw poppies

Written by erik steel
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Poppies, aside from their medicinal and other, nefarious uses, offer the student of drawing a wonderful introduction to flowers. They have a simple shape and tend to be monochromatic, making them one of nature's simplest subjects. Once mastered, the poppy can add a decorative, personal touch to notes, cards and envelopes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Paper
  • Poppy or photograph of a poppy

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    Selecting a Subject

  1. 1

    Select a poppy to draw. There are many varieties of poppy, including the California, the corn, the Iceland, the Mexican, the opium, and the oriental. Decide between a photograph or drawing from life. You will be able to see more detail if you use a live flower, but you can take all the time you want using a photograph as your model.

  2. 2

    Draw a group of poppies. Poppies grow in large, beautiful fields in nature, and this is one of the most realistic ways to draw poppies. Using a standard pencil or light green pencil, sketch straight and gently curving lines for stems. (if you sketched with a standard pencil, you can retrace later with a green pencil.) Next, draw soft, triangular shapes for the cup of the flower (many poppies are quite deep and look like a bell in profile) with a red pencil. For a poppy facing the viewer, complete the centre of more circular red shape with a black dot. Shade the base of the stems with another colour of green to create the impression of ground.

  3. 3

    To draw an individual poppy, study an individual flower closely and select pencils in colours that match its colouration. Next, begin in the centre of the flower, drawing a black or dark-green centre and any filaments. Next, sketch an outline of the flower, remembering that poppies have less dramatic petal shape than other flowers.

  4. 4

    Begin to colour the petals. It can be easiest to start with the darkest areas first, perhaps leaving the lightest areas unshaded. The colouration of poppies moves from the centre to the edge of the petal, an effect that can be accomplished with lightly made, slightly curving lines of contrasting colour (red and pink or a lighter red, for instance, depending on the particular flower). Leaving areas not completely shaded actually creates a more realistic look, since, on close inspection, flowers do not have pure colouration. Darken the areas where the petals meet to show an overlap. Complete the poppy by drawing its stem, which should gently curve from behind the flower. Try blending several shades of green and even brown for a realistic stem.

  5. 5

    To draw a poppy in profile, begin with what will become the outside of the bell-shape mentioned in Step 3-the outside should eventually appear to be a shallow cup, shaped something like a contact lens. This should be the darkest part of the flower, since less "light" is striking it-the higher the contrast, the better the effect. Next, sketch and then colour two or parts of three petals opposite your cup, creating a 3-D feel to the flower. Finish shading these as in Step 4. Next, draw the black or dark-green centre of the flower quite close to outside the cup and add details like the filaments. Complete with a stem, which should radiate from the back of the flower directly behind the dark centre and shade as in Step 4.

Tips and warnings

  • In addition to the variety of poppies available, in can be fun to draw poppies in different parts of their life-cycles, such as when the poppy is crowning-when it shows something of a nightmarish grey mouth-to when it is budding, showing a growing moon of colour surrounded in fuzzy green.
  • Many poppies appear to be kind of rough around the edges, so a stray line or two outside the sketch can actually make for a more realistic flower. Go ahead-colour outside the lines.

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