It’s your first day of art class and you walk in with inspiration all around you: landscape oil pastel paintings of a rowboat sailing through some snow-capped mountains. Watercolor self-portraits of your classmates hang throughout the room. Stick figures made of paperclips stand on your teacher’s desk. Plenty of masterpieces adorn the room, but your subject is by the door.
The ficus tree, with its green leaves, skinny branches, and straight trunk makes it the perfect model. Plant drawing is ideal for novice artists looking to hone their skills. You don’t have to submerge yourself in the rainforest or go far to feel inspired. Pictures from the internet, your backyard, or house plants will do. Learning how to draw plants is a skill anyone can pick up. Before you know it you’ll be creating botanical illustrations that belong in a gallery.
Plant One On Me
You have the choice of what supplies you use and what art direction you take with your plants. Go for a whimsical cartoon approach, or try to create a realistic botanical line drawing.
Pick a croton plant with orange and red lava-esque streaks on the leaves, or a rattlesnake plant that has blotchy black spots and resembles its venomous name. Your illustration can be as detailed or abstract as you choose. Will you use color or will it be black and white?
The Tools Of Your Trade
The first step for plant drawing is to gather the suggested supplies you are going to use to illustrate your subject:
- Colored pencils
What you use will determine the result of your project. Try graphite for sharp and crisp lines, or experiment with charcoal to create a flaky smudged look. A pen could give you the right fine point you need to create the small hairs on a lambs ear plant. Use a protractor if your illustration calls for perfect circles, but maybe imperfect is just your preferred style.
Next, choose your source of inspiration. Start a Pinterest board with cool-looking plants you want to copy. Grab your backpack and take a stroll through the park, you might want to draw something while you’re out. Go to a nursery and take photos of plants for later. And if you don’t want to go far, check around your house or yard for plants you want to draw. Art is subjective and there’s no wrong choice.
Go Easy On Me
If you’re just beginning and looking for easy plants to draw, try these to get started quickly and gain more confidence.
In The Palm Of Your Hands
Nothing sets the tropical theme better than a palm tree. This simple plant drawing will have you daydreaming of your next vacation or sending homemade postcards to your relatives.
Start by focusing on a single frond of the palm. You can draw leaves close together to make a feathery look or space them apart for a fan resemblance. Once the single frond is down, you can cluster multiple fronds together to give the foliage some density.
Make your way to the trunk. Add lines for a rigid and detailed look. For help, try using tracing paper to copy a photograph. You can set it in the sand or add coconuts to the top. Will your palm tree look like a houseplant or be 30 feet tall?
Fern Better or Worse
This leafy plant can be found anywhere from the Muir Woods in California to your living room windowsill, and it looks just as good in your sketchbook. Over 10,500 species of ferns exist, each with unique textures and characteristics. Choose the crocodile fern, which looks as though it has leathery cracked skin or the monarch fern with its wart-like bumps on the leaves.
Pick Your Poison
Leaves of three? Let them be…your next sketch. Have all the fun of creating these rash-inducing plants, like poison oak or poison ivy–risk-free. Give the outlines of the leaves a red color that contrasts the green. Just because you don’t want to touch them doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from them.
Other poisonous plants to draw include:
It’s So Cute
Plants don’t have to be complex or challenging to feel rewarding. Sometimes a cute plant drawing is all you need to create art. Here are some ideas to try:
The Keys To Succulents
The thick and fleshy leaves and firework-like patterns of this plant make it a good project, especially if you want to play with color. Make your leaves big and pointy or small and rounded. Add a gradient purple and pink ombre color.
Draw the Burro’s Tail which is a draping braid of asparagus-looking leaves that take after its name. There’s the Baby rubber plant where you can cluster the leaves together and add a shimmering look. Go for the Spiral Aloe where you decide if you want to create symmetrical patterns that go clockwise or counterclockwise.
Get To The Point
Cactuses are another cute plant to work on because they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. You could draw flower petals that spring up along the body or add prickly pears to the top. Your cactus can be a classic green bunny ear cactus or blue like the Pilosocereus Azureus. Does your cactus have arms or is it just a single body? Do a realistic depiction or like a doodle with eyeballs and a smiley face. And yes, you can touch them.
It’s A Flytrap
These green plants with sharp teeth that look as though they have blood on them are a fly’s worst nightmare but could be your favorite drawing. You can draw a venus flytrap with multiple heads or a single plant.
Start with a lima bean-shaped head, that’s open like a taco shell. Make skinny needle-like teeth that almost interlace each other. Work your way to the stem. Your flytrap could have its mouth open waiting for its next prey or closed and enjoying its snack. Deviate from real life and have the flytrap eat fried chicken or spray spores.
Happy Little Plants
You have endless approaches to drawing plants with plenty of roots to get started on. Experiment with your plants by drawing cool patterns such as hexagonal honeycomb shapes or plants with a wood grain texture.
Compose your illustration entirely out of dots with a stippling technique to emphasize shadows and depth. Make your plant look cosmic with a blue glow radiating from it. Give plant drawing a try, it might just grow on you.
Learn to Draw Small Plants
Line Drawing: Cactus & Succulent Edition