Learn to Draw Expressive Florals Using Colored Pencils | Akhil B | Skillshare

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Learn to Draw Expressive Florals Using Colored Pencils

teacher avatar Akhil B, Freelance Artist | Entrepreneur

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 25m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Student Project

    • 3. Art Supplies

    • 4. Sketching the Florals

    • 5. Coloring the Flowers and Leaf

    • 6. Summing Up

    • 7. Bonus: Hibiscus Starting Strokes (Full Time-Lapse)

    • 8. Bonus: Finishing the Hibiscus

    • 9. Bonus: Coloring Croton Leaf

    • 10. Bonus: Coloring Allamanda Flower

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About This Class

Learn to draw expressive florals using colored pencils! In this class, you will learn how to create floral illustrations by a step-by-step process. We will simplify the entire process into basic drawing techniques.

You will learn to create your own floral drawings and will submit a project by the end of this class. 


This class is for all levels. Beginners will learn the basics of drawing using colored pencils and advanced artists will learn to practice color blending and layering techniques which will help expand their creativity and drawing skills. Even if you are brand new to fine art, you will be able to follow along and learn the basics to get started on your creative journey.

Akhil Bhuvaneswaran is an artist specializing in colored pencil drawings. As a teenager, he became captivated with the challenge of realistic drawing and the meticulous attention to detail that is required. Akhil continued to feel driven to improve his technique with every drawing.

You'll Learn: 

  • Art supplies I recommend, including colored pencil brands, drawing papers and more
  • Tips for sketching out the reference
  • Different types of coloring techniques 
  • Basics of using colored pencils
  • Drawing a beautiful floral illustration 
  • Adding details as you color
  • My personal tips for better results

Towards the end of this class, I have included some bonus lessons in which you can see the real time footage of the drawing process. It will be beneficial to those who want to see every single step in the coloring process! I recommend going through it while you practice making your own artwork.

When you enroll in this class, you are taking your next step forward in your creative journey! Enjoy the learning process and have fun. 

Want to learn the absolute basics of colored pencils? Check out my beginners class here! 


Meet Your Teacher

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Akhil B

Freelance Artist | Entrepreneur


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1. Intro: Welcome to Floral Illustrations using colored pencils. This class is all about simplifying the drawing process so you can make vibrant artworks. This class is for all levels. Whether you are brand new to colored pencils or already an experienced artist, you will be able to follow along and grow your drawing skills. My name is Akhil, and this is actually my 5th Skillshare class. I'm a fine artist and I focus on photorealistic drawings. You can find my artworks on my art gallery, drawwithakhil. What I like about colored pencils is the amount of details that you can create using it. I've been using this medium for almost four years now and my process has become pretty finely tuned. In this class, I'll be breaking everything down into simple steps. We'll start with a reference for a preferably a flower that you are plucked from your garden or any image that you like. Then we'll simplify it in the family of shapes to create a very basic sketch. Once the sketch is completed, we'll start coloring it using various coloring techniques like blending and layering. By the end of this class, you will have a vibrant colored pencil illustration that you have drawn yourself. Simply put, it's going to be a quite interesting class. Before we begin, do not forget to follow me on Skillshare. Once you follow me, you will be the first to know whenever I publish a new class like this. Ready to dive in and create your own colored pencil illustration? Let's get started. 2. Student Project : Thanks for joining me today. We are going to be creating a drawing combining three different references. I'll be using a hibiscus, a cotton leaf, and an allamanda flour as my subjects. They images of which you can find in the Projects and Resources tab below. However, if you'd like to draw from a photo that you took yourself or a real flower that you have in your hand, please feel free. Personally, I want you to have the best learning experience. I recommend you to see your own reference, which could be a beautiful flower that you may have in your garden. Who knows? Now that you have your reference with you, follow along through each lesson and practice the same things I teach. Don't just go through the class, simply learning the theory. Take your sketchbook and try out these methods yourself. By the end of this class, you will complete the floral drawing on your own. Now, go ahead and take a picture of your work. Please share your artwork in the Projects and Resources tab. You can do this by clicking "Create project" and then upload your images there. I would love to hear about your process and what you learn from this class. You can mention it in the project description and hit "Publish" to finish. Now that you have a sense of the class, let's dive right in, starting with supplies. 3. Art Supplies: In terms of supplies, let's start with the most basic, the colored pencils. My preferred brand is right here. It's Faber-Castell and I actually have a whole set of these. This is the polychromos series. I use a lot of dark colors in my artworks. Lot of them are decimated. But the good thing with pencils is, you can always buy replacements. Individual colors can be bought anytime, so you don't have to buy the whole set of pencils again. I always like to keep a substitute for my black and browns since they are used in almost all of my drawings. The polychromos series is known as the professional grade. These are the highest quality colored pencils from Faber-Castell and are used by professional artists all over the world. They are oil-based pencils, and for this reason, their core is very strong and its leads won't break easily. For the same reason, the pencil keeps a sharper point for a longer period of time. This is really helpful for artists like me who focus on every detail of the artwork. Now, in terms of price, they are bit more expensive than your average colored pencils, which is obviously justified with the quality and the reliability that it gives. You can either buy individual colors according to a need or get a standard set which has a fixed number of colors. The most basic set is of 12 colors and can go up to 120 colors in the high-end package. Personally, I use set of 24 colors, which covers all of my requirements. I just bought some extra skin tones which I lacked in the set. You do not need the 120 set of colors to get started. Just go for whichever one you can afford and then keep adding extra colors as you progress. It's not about the brand or how much money you spend. It's all about what you do with that pencil and that's what you're going to learn today. Next up, drawing paper. My preferred drawing paper is the Strathmore Bristol paper. Now, this one is in the 400 series, which is a very good range in terms of durability. To give you a better idea of that, for Strathmore, the series range to 500. Five hundred is the premium quality paper with the most thickness, whereas the lower series, like 200, is going to be very thin paper and is meant for beginner artists. The reason that the thickness of the paper matters is because when you're working with colored pencils, you often add multiple layers of colors using hard pencil leads. A lot of pressure is applied onto the surface of the paper. If the paper is too thin, it can result in tearing of the surface and your entire artwork getting damaged in the process. I chose 400, which is a little bit cheaper than the 500, and it works just fine. Again, instead of talking about the brands necessarily, I'm going to talk about things that I look for in a good drawing paper. First things first, surface finish. I go for smooth surface paper in all my colored pencil drawings. What that means is the paper is going to be very smooth rather than textured. This allows easy pencil movement and brings a lot of ease to the blending and layering process. Another thing that I look for is, I want to make sure that the paper is acid-free. This is an important thing to look for because it means this paper isn't going to get yellow over time. After making a drawing, I prefer to frame it and put it on my gallery wall. It's often exposed to many sources of light. I don't want it to be damaged by that. I use acid-free paper to prevent it from getting yellow and cracky. The last thing I look for is the thickness or the weight of the paper. Usually, in brands like these, the thickness increases proportionately with the series. For example, 400 series is more thicker than the 200 series. Or in some cases, the weight is indicated on the front cover of the brand. I recommend using a heavyweight paper to prevent the buckling or tearing of the paper. A thicker paper means that it will be durable. It won't start to blend or fold as you apply pressure onto it's surface, and it means it has better quality. Now, let's look at some extras we'll be using, starting with your sketching pencil. When it comes to colored pencil drawings, it's a very unforgiving medium. Sometimes it can be very hard to erase some mistakes you have made during the initial stages of your drawing. It is best to sketch with a hard lead pencil. There are two different types of pencil, the hard lead and the soft lead. With the hard lead when you draw on the page, it barely makes a mark because the lead is so hard that it doesn't release onto the paper very easily. Whereas soft lead pencils leaves very dark marks on the page. With colored pencils, if you make dark sketches, those pencil marks will permanently stay there and will show through the light colors. This can make your drawing look shabby and unprofessional. The lighter you can make your marks the better. If you want to make really light marks, then use a very hard lead pencil. You can tell it's a hard lead by the designation of H. This one right here is a 2H, which is what I usually use for sketching. Anything that says B means that it's going to be a soft lead pencil. Just keep that in mind. If you don't have this specific pencil, you can use a mechanical pencil or any pencil that you have on hand. Just sketch really lightly as you go. When it comes to erasers, I prefer to use regular eraser. To make really fine adjustments to my sketch, I use the sharp edges of it. You may also use a pencil eraser if you want to have more precision. Another thing that I keep in my hand is a couple of cartridge papers. I use them to rest my hands while I color my sketch. This helps in preventing the unnecessary spreading of colors and thereby prevents the drawing from getting shabby. I think that's it in terms of supplies that we'll be using today. Without further delay, let's go ahead and jump right in. 4. Sketching the Florals: Today we will be drawing this combination of Hibiscus, Allamanda, and Croton leaf. I just picked some random flowers from my garden for today's illustration. Let's go ahead and get started with our sketch. For the sketch, you will need a few supplies. You'll need to have your reference subject. Again, I'll be using these three as my reference but you'd follow along with a different subject, maybe it's a flower that you picked from your garden, or simply an image that you have found on the Internet. Please feel free. The things you will learn can be applied to any reference that you have. It's entirely up to you to make the choice. So you go to your reference, no matter what it is. We have our drawing paper, the sketching pencil, and an eraser. Like I have mentioned, I'll be using 2H, which is a hard lead pencil. Remember, the point is to have your sketch be very, very light so that once you color on top of it, you can't see the pencil marks. We have three references. Allamanda, Croton leaf, and the Hibiscus. I like to keep my reference side-by-side of my drawing paper but if you want to pull this up on your screen or your phone, just to take a look, that's absolutely fine as well. With those four things in mind, pencil, eraser, paper, and the reference photos, let's go ahead and dive right in. I'll be creating an illustration using all these references, keeping one over the other. For Croton leaf, it's really bright and vibrant. I think I'll have that as the first layer. I'm going to align it diagonally like this to cover the most space. Now I'll place the Hibiscus on top of it oriented vertically. Last but not least, let's position the Allamanda flower in the opposite direction just to make it a bit more attractive. Now we have a rough idea of how our drawing should look like in the end. Go ahead and take a picture of this setup from above. Trust me, it will come handy later. Let's put this aside and start sketching them one by one, starting with the Hibiscus, which is the topmost layer. Now for some of you, a 3D subject like this may appear to be very complex and too difficult to be drawn on paper. Don't worry. I'm going to show you how you can simplify it and make it a lot easier to understand. If you're drawing from a physical subject for the first time an easy hack is to snap a picture of it from whichever angle you want to illustrate it. By doing so, what you're essentially doing is converting the 3D subject into a 2D reference image. If you're someone who is used to reference photos only, then this can help a lot. Let's take a close look at our reference first. Before starting to sketch, try to break down your reference into familiar shapes and curls. In this case, I can imagine an invisible circle that forms a boundary for these petals with the origin of the pistil being its midpoint. Let's draw that on paper first. I'm drawing a circle with my free hand. It doesn't have to be perfect. Remember, we are trying to establish the form first, we can perfect the sketch later on. I'm marking the center of the circle with a small dot, and we have the pistil shooting upwards in this direction. Let's mark that also. Next step, let's draw some of these petals that are coming out from the center of the Hibiscus. It's very easy. We have our center point marking the pistil, and the outer circle symbolizing the boundary. Now, all we need to do is connect them with simple curls. Let's start with this one right up front. It seems to be originating from a small circle just outside the central point and ends in the outer one, just like this. Same goes with the rest of the petals, except the direction in which they are shooting. Let's sketch them too. Now we have this sac of pollens and other minute details. It's not necessary to add everything in your sketch. We can add those details later while coloring. At this point, I'm going to go ahead and erase out the unnecessary areas. I can go ahead and erase out this circle line which I used to get the positioning of my Hibiscus correct because it is no longer needed. Very, very simple shapes. We began with the circle, we defined the central point, and then we drew a line to represent the pistil, and then we made some curls to represent the petals shooting outwards. Let's move on to the remaining ones and add them too. Moving onto the Croton leaf, if you try to remember back to the beginning, we placed the Hibiscus on top of the Croton leaf. The lower portion of the leaf is covered by the Hibiscus blooms. Let's go ahead and sketch what that looks like. I'm going to start by doing this straight line in this direction, representing the central veining of the Croton leaf. Again, pretty easy. Very simple lines and curls. Now looking at this leaf, we can observe that their outer boundaries are very narrow at the ends and are bordered towards the center of the leaf. I'm going to go ahead and sketch out what I think that borderline might look like. Last but not least, I'm going to draw a little bit of veining to match what it really looks like over here. Real quick, for sketches, it's not important to draw every single detail as on reference. It's much important to get the basic form down and then you'll add the remaining details later on while coloring. The reason that I say that is, if I were going to sketch every single detail out with the pencil first, then that graphite is just going to show through when I have the floral drawing on top of it. We want to keep that in mind for sketching. As light as we can make our sketches and as less detail that we can make our sketches as possible, it's better. I'm going to draw a few of those lines so that I get an idea of the direction, how that veining goes. I'm not drawing every single one here you see on this reference. Instead, I'm just going to be drawing a few of them. Moving onto the next one, we have our Allamanda flower. I'm not sure if you are all familiar with this flower. I live in this beautiful southern state of Kerala in India and here it's got a nickname Kollambi, which translates to gramophone in English. It makes sense in the way it looks very similar to a gramophone. Whoever named it, very artistic. Anyway, we will model that to simplify our sketch. We have this small pipe-like stem, blooming outwards into the outer petals, just like the gramophone. I'm starting with this line representing the direction of the stem and an endpoint at which it blossoms out. Now let's define the outer boundary which marks the end of these petals with an oval curl. Let's add those details to form the base of our sketch. Remember to erase out the unnecessary lines after the sketch is made. Now that we have our sketch completed, let's go ahead and start coloring it. 5. Coloring the Flowers and Leaf: We have reached the most interesting stage Which is actually coloring the sketch. First, I'll explain how I do it through a simple narrated video and then you'll have a series of real-time lessons in which you learn how everything is done in individual steps. I'm starting with the hibiscus heal by marking the pistol using a very light color. Now I can go in with a darker color to give more precise details. At this point, go ahead and add those parts which we didn't include in our sketch. Now I'm moving on to the petals, starting with the one in the foreground is simple tip. Before you color individual parts, use the same color to mark the boundaries of the same. Also address the small inner details, which can improve the level of detail. Once completed, go ahead and start coloring from any convenient side. Here, I'm starting from the top and coloring all the way down to the bottom. I'm using the method of layering to add multiple layers of colors over one another. There are a few things you need to look for while coloring, always make sure that your pencil is sharpened properly. A sharp pencil will give you more control over the coloring process. The way you hold your pencil, is also equally important, if you hold it closer to the lets, the pressure of plate on the paper will be more and the color will become more saturated. Whereas, holding the pencil by the further end will reduce suppression and produce a lighter layer of color. The next thing to look for is pencil movement. After all, your final drawing is a series of individual strokes so the direction in which you move your pencils should also be paid attention to, once the initial layer of color is done, I move in with the dark colors to give a final touch. Or to make between different colors to create a fine blend and to reduce the graininess on the paper. Similarly, I'm marking now claim of each petal with read. Be sure to observe your reference multiple times as you do this then the same process is repeated for each individual petals, except that the directional strokes differ according to their orientation. It is important that you create a good contrast in your outlook, which means having different values, some dark colors as well your lighter tones. Here, I'm using a variety of red and orange tones to do this. After coloring all the petals, it is time to give a final touch using the most dark colors. A finishing layer of colors is added to bring more depth into the drawing, and here we go. We have our first reference, the hibiscus colored. Let's move to the next one, which is the cotton leaf. I'm starting with the veining inside the leaf by generally addressing its boundaries using a light pink. Then I go in and fill it with the same, the reason that I fill the pink color first, is because it is very light compared to the green so if your greens are certainly going to the pink region, it can be very difficult to make your pink color show it again. Here, I'm coloring the upper half of the leaf first using the method of layering. I'm using a variety of colors like green, sandy yellow to complete the first layer. Then, I go in with my brown to add more contrast so that it matches with the look of my reference. Now you may have an underling different subject as your reference just apply the same techniques that I'm teaching here. One important thing to do is to pick your colors carefully, try to match them with their reference as close as possible. I'll demonstrate it with an art symbol. Here, you can notice that my pink region is very light as compared to what it looks like on the reference so I'm using a darker color to deepen it. Now it looks much better then the same process is repeated for the lower half of the leaf. As always, a final test is done using the black color, which is the darkest one I have here. We have our portal leaf completed. Moving on to our last subject, we have our elemental flower. It doesn't have much complexities, simply some shades of yellow and orange. I'm starting with the lightest yellow as the first layer, then I used the darker ones to create a transition between different hues to make it more deep. While creating color transitions, be sure to make them smooth by applying pressure to your pencils to fuse those colors. Yes, and finally, we have our sketch colored. That's how I do it and as I mentioned the next few lessons will be a series of uncut footage of the coloring process. I recommend that you go through it once while you practice your project, see you in the next lesson. 6. Summing Up: You did it. At this point, you should have a beautiful floral illustration. Congratulations on completing this project with me, and do not forget to upload your work on the student project gallery on Skillshare. I'm eager to see what you have created. I hope you have enjoyed the learning process. If you have anything in your mind, please let me know in the discussions tab. I'll be responding to each of your queries. Finally, thanks for watching this class until the end. Have a great day. 7. Bonus: Hibiscus Starting Strokes (Full Time-Lapse): In this lesson, you will get started with coloring the hibiscus. You will learn the initial steps in the coloring process. Let's dive right in. 8. Bonus: Finishing the Hibiscus: In this lesson, you will learn how I give a final touch to the hibiscus using some dark colors and a blending stump. 9. Bonus: Coloring Croton Leaf: In this lesson, you will watch and learn how I color the different parts of the croton leaf in real-time. 10. Bonus: Coloring Allamanda Flower: This concludes our real-time lessons. In this one, you will learn the coloring process of allamanda flower.