How to Draw Realistic Water

Written by michelle gordon
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How to Draw Realistic Water
Reflections and shadows make a water drawing look more realistic. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Nature often serves as inspiration for artists. Many artists are inspired to draw what they see, and to try and capture that beauty so others can see it. Bodies of water can provide inspiration, no matter if the water is flowing and dangerous, or calm and still. You can capture the movement or stillness of water with carefully drawn lines and shadows. You can also make your water look more realistic by adding details to the landscape surrounding the water.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser

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    Moving Water

  1. 1

    Outline a shape of a stream, by drawing two wavy parallel lines. Make the curves of the lines run parallel with each other as well. Draw different sized rocks spaced throughout the stream.

  2. 2

    Draw small, squiggly lines in different areas of the stream. Curve the lines so that they go in the same direction. This will give an indication of which way the current is flowing.

  3. 3

    Draw rocks, trees and bushes on the sides of the stream. Shade the ground with your pencil to create grass, and draw patches of grass for further detail. Add flowers, a skyline, mountains and horizon line and anything else that is a part of your river landscape.

    Still Water

  1. 1

    Draw a rectangle as an outline to guide you. On the outer parts of the rectangle, draw trees, dirt and grass. Shade a border around the rectangle to indicate shadows near the shore. Establish the horizon line.

  2. 2

    Add as much detail to the trees and landscape as you like. Inside the rectangle, use your pencil to shade lines throughout the lake. Use more force on some of the lines to create shadows in the lake.

  3. 3

    Erase a section of the lake where light would be reflecting on it. Don't erase everything evenly. The effect will look more natural if some of the pencil marks are still visible.

  4. 4

    Add further shading inside the rectangle for more shadows along the shoreline. Draw reflections at the edge of the lake, of the trees and grass that are nearest the edge. The reflections don't have to be precise, they just need to mirror the basic shapes of the objects. Sign and date your work.

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