How to Draw Modern Ink and Watercolor Florals PLUS Free PDF Guide to Picking a Reference Photo | Isa Down | Skillshare

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How to Draw Modern Ink and Watercolor Florals PLUS Free PDF Guide to Picking a Reference Photo

teacher avatar Isa Down, Illustrator, Writer, Nature Lover

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

9 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Intro/Course Trailer

    • 2. How to: Picking Your Reference Flower

    • 3. Class Project: Cosmos Flower

    • 4. Materials

    • 5. Pencil Sketch & Layout

    • 6. Adding Watercolor

    • 7. Ink: Botanical Line Drawing

    • 8. Ink: Shading & Detailing

    • 9. Wrap Up

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About This Class

Welcome! I am Isa Down, and I am the artist and creative designer behind Poppy and Gray Co. In this 30-minute class, you will learn the step-by-step process for creating bright, eye-catching, modern florals, using ink and watercolor.  Together we'll be creating a fun, bright, splashy masterpiece.  This class is meant for anyone, whether you're just starting out, or have drawn hundreds of flowers before.  I'll be showing you my unique style for creating modern florals, and from the steps you learn in this class, you'll be able to create any modern florals you wish! I can't wait to see you in the classroom. 

As a BONUS, I have also included a FREE pdf quick-guide for choosing your reference photos: what you should look for, what to think about if you're taking photos yourself to use as reference guides, and how to be sure you aren't breaching any copyright laws by using google images as your reference. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Isa Down

Illustrator, Writer, Nature Lover




Hey you! I am an artist and writer living at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  Author of ‘Inking Florals: Learn to Create Modern Dynamic Florals in Ink and Watercolor’ (Walter Foster, 2020), I am a self-taught artist with a passion for watercolor, ink, and anything found in nature.  I have taught thousands of students, both online and in-person, and am wildly passionate about empowering others. I am excited to continue inspiring and encouraging others to find their inner creatives.

Thanks for stopping by my Skillshare page.  I’d love to see you in class!

Make sure to follow me to stay up to date with all my future classes.

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1. Intro/Course Trailer: way. Hi, I'm Lisa, and I'm the creative designer and artist behind Poppy and Graco. In this class, I'll be teaching you how to create modern florals. Using ink and watercolor. I'll be walking you step by step through my process for creating these fun, splashy, eye catching modern florals and together will be creating a really beautiful masterpiece. If you have never drawn a flower before in your life or you've drawn hundreds of them, this class is for you. You'll be learning new skills to take these out into the world and create whatever florals you wish to create. And I'm super excited to teach this class, so let's go ahead and get started. 2. How to: Picking Your Reference Flower: e guys. I just wanted to go over really quickly. What are projects for the class will be on water reference. Photo is this is the reference photo. It's a quick picture that I took in my garden this morning of a beautiful cosmos flower with vibrant pink color with this bright yellow center. And I just thought it had a really beautiful color. Um, and contrast to it. So I wanted to draw this. I also wanted to point out a couple of features I really like to look for when I'm looking for a reference photo. Um, I really like when pedals are curved up like this and have a little bit of character at the ends of them. Gives lots of movement and dynamic to the flower. But I love about the Cosmo is it has these lines already in the pedals here, which are its shade and shadow lines. But they give you good reference for when you're doing your botanical line shading with your botanical line drawing. I also picked this because it had this beautiful curve to these two pedals and I wanted to be able to give some perspective and movement in my photo. And so I'm always looking for flowers that have a little bit of movement to them. If I can't find one, that's exactly what I'm looking for. I will, of course, just make it up and create that dynamic and movement by drawing in a fold to a pedal. But it's always kind of fun when you find one that has these perfect folds to it. I also really liked this as a reference photo because it has this little bud here that's just starting to bloom with a little bit of pedals around the bottom. And everything's leading down to the stem here, where they connect out of the picture where you can't see. You want to make sure that you're looking for flowers that come in different stages of growth. You want to look for buds, things that are just starting to bloom, ones that are in full bloom and also ones that are starting to lose their pedal and almost even start to decay. They're all such a beautiful process of the flower, and it's really fun to be able to include those different dynamics when you're doing ah floral drawing. Make sure that if you're taking photos yourself of the flowers that you see which I do obsessively, Um, And you may also find that you enjoy doing this. Just make sure that you take a photo of the leaves as well. I have found myself drawing a beautiful flower that I saw on a walk, and I had no idea what it waas what type of flower and realized I didn't get any, um, pictures of the leaves, so I wasn't sure how to draw the leaves in with the flowers, especially leaves in the angle, or from the angle that I took the flower photo. You can certainly try to figure out what flower it is if you're not sure or google the leaf photos as well. But it's always kind of nice to have a leaf from angle that you took the flower photo. If you're taking reference, photos yourself and make sure if you're taking photos to take them at different angles so you can see all aspects of the flower. If you're holding a flower in your hand and using it as a reference, you can just turn the flower in your hand and look at it from all the different angles. Zoom in by holding it closer to your eyes and see everything that you want to see. But if you've taken a photo of something on the hiker walk or in your neighbor's yard or outside the grocery store, you want to make sure you got some photos from different angles to really understand the flowers so that you can draw the different faces of it well. And lastly, I always like to look for a curve to the pedals to add dynamic and movement to my drawing. Whether that's a fold in the pedal, it's bending back a little bit. It's falling down a little bit. I like to get an angle where there is a bit of fold to give that movement to my flower. And if you don't see it in the flowers, I usually just draw them in because I think it adds some dynamic to the flower, and it helps draw your I N and make you look at the photo longer and makes your brain ask questions about what's going on in the photo and just really draws you into the picture. So these are my tips for picking your reference flower whether you're taking photos googling, um, picking flowers or any of the above, these are all really great ways to look at the reference photos that you're considering. 3. Class Project: Cosmos Flower: All right, everybody. I wanted to show you the final project that we're going to be creating together. This is our class project. We're going to be drawing this beautiful pink, splashy cosmos flower. Um, for our class project, and I will be taking you step by step through the process for creating this. So if you've never drawn a flower before, please don't be intimidated or daunted by anything. We'll be going through this together. And the joy of skill share classes is you can always pause and go back if you need to, so we'll never go too fast for you. And if you wanted to draw something else and you're comfortable drawing florals or I'm going to slow anyone a speed through or just kind of zoom ahead and find your own creative way of making modern floral. They absolutely encouraged you to pick your own flour and just follow the steps in my videos to create your own unique modern floral. And be sure to post it on Instagram and tag me at Poppy and Graco were posted in the Class Project section of our class here on skill share so that I can see what you've created. I'd love you for you to do this, no matter what. If you end up doing the cosmos with me, where if you end up doing your own flower or if you do the cosmos and then another flower because you had so much fun doing it, I want to see them all. So make sure you tag me and everything. Next, we're gonna talk about materials and then we're gonna go ahead and get started, so let's go. 4. Materials: you talk about materials really quickly. You don't need anything particularly fancy for this class. So don't go out and buy all the really expensive things if you don't want to. Um, most of this stuff you might even already have lying around the house. You're gonna need a pencil for sketching out your flowers before we apply the watercolor and an eraser. To go with that, you're going to need a paintbrush. Um, I tend to use a thicker paint brush for my watercolor when I'm applying it for this style. But if you're wanting to do anything with more detail, I would recommend a thinner brush than this one. I have no idea what brand this is. It has no markings on it at all, But it's the one I tend to use the most. We're also gonna want to find lander pen. This one is Micron, and I used to Size is the most the 005 and 01 The's air both pretty thin tips. But, um, they work really well for me and my style, where I like to do the very thin, detailed drawings. So I tend to use these two sizes. It's a 20.2 millimeter and a 0.25 millimeter tip. However, they do come much bigger than this. So if you want more thick, bold lines, go ahead and get a bigger pen sized. I would just recommend that whatever brand you use, you get archival ink so that, um, it doesn't fade over time. It's not going to run If your hand uh first, much of your hand runs over it because it dries almost immediately and it won't leak through the pages. Well, so you won't get the black lines on the other side of the page, and you're also gonna need some watercolors. I tend to use the prima watercolor set just because it's so portable. Easy to take with me Anywhere I go, um, and I have two sets of them tropicals on the classics, and they have other options as well. But I tend to like these two to blend colors together. I feel like it gives me a good variety without being having too many paints lying around, um, are carrying with me in my case, and then lastly, you're gonna need paper. I tend to use the Bristol paper because it's thick enough that it's not going toe warp when I apply the watercolor, um, to the page. And at the same time it's thin enough or smooth enough. Excuse me that it's going to take the archival fine liner pen ink really well, and you're gonna have a lot of control over your inclines. You're not gonna run into any bumps or anything like that that you might with the watercolor paper, so that's what I tend to use. So let's go ahead and get started with our project. 5. Pencil Sketch & Layout: right, guys. So let's talk about designing the layout for our flower. I always like to have a bit of a curved my stem because it draws the eye in and gives the flour little bit of life. And you also want to be looking at how the petals fall. You can certainly do something where you just have flat pedals in a circle like with the daisy. But if you give it a little bit of curve or a little bit of perspective, it's going really bring your flower alive. So I always like to look for that now, today we're gonna be drawing the cosmos flower, which I have a reference photo of from my garden that I took. So that's what I'm using today as my reference photo. Um, So what we do first is we're just gonna want to draw ah light pencil sketch to give us an idea of where everything the pedals and the leaves are gonna be Fallings. We have some idea of how we're going to be applying the watercolor. Um, you want to make sure when you're doing the pencil part that you are not pushing down too hard because you don't want it showing through the water color too much, but you wanted to show through enough that you are able to see where your lines were when you apply the Fine Liner Inc later, Um, Harry, if it's a flower that I'm not as familiar with or something that I really want a very specific look to, I will always do the pencil first. If it's something I just kind of want to sketch, and I'll just go ahead and apply my ink with an idea in mind of where I want everything to be on the page, Um, and then I can just go ahead and apply the ink blindly. If there's something you don't like, this is the time to change it. Um, definitely one of a race if you feel like the line of the flower wasn't how you wanted it to be. This is the time to do it, cause, of course, once you start applying, thank you can't really erase the ink, so definitely keep that in mind while you're applying your pencil. Now, in this part, I really try to do a light, but not as detailed sketch of the in cleaves but I'm also wanting to just do a rough sketch of where I think my stem will be. And if I think I'm gonna have any but coming off of it because I might want to put some water color down there as well. Um, depending on if the buds are blooming at all. And that's really all that I end up doing for my watercolor or for my pencil sketch for my flower is making sure I know where my pedals are going to be and then just giving myself a rough outline of where I think my stem and any buds might be. 6. Adding Watercolor: that way. It's timeto watercolor. I always start with a base color that is the most similar to the color of my reference photo or the color of the flower that I'm wanting it to look like. And the biggest thing with this part is you really want to have enough water on your paintbrush. And as you're applying, you're not just gonna because we're not going to be doing exactly detailed within the lines of our pencil sketch. Um, you want to offset things intentionally. You want to be intentional in your messiness? Um, I tend to make the water color contrast with whether flower lines will be because I don't want it directly over where it will be. Or it looks like I tried to make it fit into the lines and I didn't succeed very well. I accidentally colored outside the lines when really I'm making an intentional effort to draw outside of the lines, you could do it in whatever shape you want. Um, but I tend to make it a little bit more crazy and outside the lines. And then I always want to come in with at least one extra color, um, to add a little bit of dimension, but to make it also pop a little bit, Um And it could be really any color that you want in this particular flower. There is yellow in the center, so I'm going to add a little bit of yellow. Just, um, give it the illusion of having a center. But as you can see, even my yellow bit isn't gonna be exactly centered and it's gonna fall over the page, and it's gonna look a little bit messy. You can also decide if you want to add any color to where your butt is going to be. Sometimes I like Teoh. Add them together so it doesn't look like I intentionally just added an extra blob over there. Because the whole point of this is that it looks a little bit unintentional. Even, um, it looks a little messy even when you're being intentional with it. And now my favorite part is definitely adding extra water to your brush and extra color and just flashing on their I typically will do two different colors. I will either use two of the colors that he used for the flower, or I'll use a more complimentary color in there as well. In this instance, I'm using the 1st 2 pinks that I used, and I'm gonna not do any of the yellow. And all you do is just a tap top of the brush. And it works best if your brushes really wet with ink or with the water color on there so that you don't have to tap it too hard to get really good thick blotches that really add a lot of life and movement and, um, dimension to your painting. And I typically will go through and make sure that any of the blotches that landed in my flower get blended in a little bit so that we don't have too many spots right over my flower to take away from the beautiful, blotchy nous that is the flower. All right, so we're gonna let this dry, and then we'll come back and we'll work on the line drying part of this 7. Ink: Botanical Line Drawing: All right, so we're back and by now, or watercolor has dried. And as you can see, we have this beautiful bleed in the watercolor where everything's kind of meshing and melding together, and it's just so beautiful and delicious. I love it so much. So what I have in front of me, which you can't see at the moment, is my reference photo, which they have just to the side of where my paper is. And you can see the reference photo here on what it looks like. I always like to start in the middle and just look really closely at what the center of the flower looks like and try to imitate that shape by using smaller shapes to create the larger shape. So each little one kind of has. It's almost like 1/2 circle, but I'm going to be using just building it on top of each other to create the center of my cosmos. This is always my most favorite part is applying ink because it really starts bringing everything alive. And as you can see, you can still kind of see the pencil line through here. So you have a rough idea of where your pedals were that you had already sketched out. Um, and at this point, there faded enough in there that you're gonna go along the general same lines. But you can also vary it a little bit. If you decide that you wanted a shape to be slightly different, you can a raise a little bit through the water color. But it's not gonna races. Well, as if you're just racing straight over the pencil, so keep that in mind as well. All right? So just using my reference photo, I'm gonna go ahead and draw my flower. And I put a couple lines in just to give myself a sense of the direction that the pedal is falling and where the shadows they're going to be and where I'm gonna be doing my detailed lines which will just help me figure out the layout of the rest of the pedals as well, as well, of course, using my reference photo to take a look at this and see what exactly I have going on here. When I'm picking my reference photos. I always look for something that has curve and a fold to. It's something that's going to really give it a little bit of excitement and really draw the eye in a little bit. Um, we don't just want something that's just straight head on. I mean, you might, you might like, enjoy the look of that. But I always like the look of something that's a little bit of a curve to it, something that has a little bit of interest that draws the eye end. It makes your brain and ask a few questions so you end up looking at it a little bit closer and trying to figure out where the pedal was falling and how it's all going. Um, just brings a little bit more dynamic to the painting in the drawing that you're doing. If you're just starting out with line drawing, definitely start where you are most comfortable. If you are most comfortable just focusing on head on flowers while you start figuring out how to make the lines look like you want them to look how to make a line look like fold and go ahead and do that, of course. So those are my pedals that I have down. And as you can see, um, this was my original pencil line. So I definitely deviated from that a little bit. Um and I will just make sure that when I'm doing my shading lines in the next video, that, um I think about where the new placement of my pedals IHS when you're doing this. Demir also wanting to think about where am I going to have my leaves come off of here? Cosmos tend to have these really long thin with believes, so I'm probably gonna have one come out on this side. Definitely Want to leave a space as you're drawing. You're stem down here, is you? Don't end up some strange lines. Gonna have one come off close to where this but is coming up a swell. And here's where you can also have a little bit of imagination and how you draw your flower because you don't have to draw exactly like you see it. Cosmos flowers. If you've seen them in real life or you've seen pictures of them, they have a lot of pedals attached to them and they could get really messy. And you may not want to have that kind of messy look to the drawing that you're doing so really just focus on this style and the look that you're wanting to create with your drawing. You don't have to do every single pedal for every single leaf you're gonna use your own unique style and your knowledge of what looks good on the paper to create your flower. Now this Bobo that I, her bud that I had taking a picture of from my garden just starting to come out the pedals were just starting to come out. So we still have some of this, but still attached to it. Then there are definitely some pedals starting to come out of here when they give the idea of it beginning to bloom. But it hasn't quite bloomed yet. Now the leaves that I'm doing, I am just making up the design of them as I go, because I can see the general look of the pedals, the leaves of the cosmos. But I don't want to do exactly how it looks in my reference photo, because it just seems a little bit too messy for the style that I'm doing today so I can see that they tend to overlap. They wrap around each other, they long and thin and from there, Aiken, he is my imagination And create whatever I want to create. - Once you're satisfied with what you have, you're gonna move on to the shading part. 8. Ink: Shading & Detailing: Now it's time to start our detail ing and our sheeting. I have gone through and we've done the watercolor gotten rid of the pencil lines, any guidelines that were visible and we went through in traced over with Our Inc. And now it's time to do the shading when your shading and thinking about, um, botanical line drawing. When you're looking at the pedals, you're gonna be doing shading lines within the dips of the pedals wherever it dips down. That's this, um, where you're gonna have a bit of a shadow, and that's where you can put your shading lines in there. So right here where it dips down, gonna go ahead, do a couple little lines in there to indicate that there is a a little bit of a dip there, and you're gonna want to do your shading lines in the direction that your pedal is curving . If you need to take a look at 1000 reference photos to figure out how the lines might go, then go ahead and do that. The fun thing about Cosmos is you can see within the reference photo itself all the different lines and shadows that come with the cosmos pedal. So it's a really great one to practice on if you're not comfortable with the shading part of botanical line drawing, because it almost gives you the exact things, the exact places where you need to put your lines. So go ahead and put your shading lines in and also keeping in mind that it's depending on where the light is coming. It might be a little bit darker under a pedal like in here. It's gonna be a little bit darker on. It might be a little bit darker, closer to the stomach as well. And the shading lines that I do are just. I am holding the pen down and I flick out. And as I flick, I'm lifting up the pressure on the pen. So it starts out a little bit thicker and gets thinner as it goes along, instead of just having a straight line that's kind of has no movement or dynamic to it. This style really gives a lot of movement to the flower and the pedal without having to figure out a way to draw in movement other in other ways. - Now , when this one, this bottom part is the under part of the leave. So I want to give that a little bit more darkness and depth in the corners here where there seems to be a little bit more shadow. But I also want to leave it a little bit lighter as well, because in the photo, it's has some lightness to it. The top part is definitely a little lighters. I'm gonna leave it pretty laid up on top just to give it that depth and dynamic. When you're doing the under part of a curve or the fold of a pedal, you want to think about the direction that it's going. It might look like it's kind of coming down this way, but if you think about it, the base of the pedal is down here. So the direction is gonna go in a similar way that the other lines on this one are going some fold. They're gonna look like they're going a different direction. So you just need to pay attention to the source of the pedal to give you an idea of the direction that your lines are going to need to take. And, of course, you always want to keep in mind where your light sources, You know, if you have a light coming from directly above, it's gonna be pretty light on top, and then these bottom parts would be much darker. If you have a light coming from over here, how is that going to affect your pedal? These ones that are curved up more it's might be darker up here were darker down here. It just kind of depends on where your light source is coming, and that's something definitely to think about. If you're not sure what it's going to look like and you have the actual flower in your hand , grab a flashlight or light on your phone or an overhead lamp, and you can hold the flower in different angles with a light source coming from different angles and really examine where those shadows fall so that you can make sure that you're getting all the shade lines and the detail ing lines where they need to be. When I'm doing the stem, I tend to put shade lines on the right hand side more densely, with some very variation going on to the left hand side as well, just to continue with the dynamic movement that I'm trying to create in this flower. It's always darker up right where it comes out of the base of the flower because it's hiding under the shadow of the flower. Unless the flower is one that just reaches straight up and you have the right light source that's coming just straight in front of that, then you may not need shading in there, but for the most part is gonna be a little bit darker right at the base of where you're coming from. And there we go. That's the shading of our modern floral that we created. And now we're just gonna go to our wrap up. You guys are almost done. 9. Wrap Up: Congratulations. You did it. You now know how to take the skills from this class and drop gorgeous modern florals and create any floral combination that you want. Teoh, how exciting is that? No, I just want to say thank you so much for joining me in creating this project. I would absolutely love to see what you've created. So go ahead and post them in the comment section of this class or if you post them on instagram, make sure you tag me at Poppy and Graco so that I can see your beautiful work and share your work in my stories on Instagram, I'm always available for feedback, So feel free to get in touch with me. And I'd be happy to answer any questions or give any feedback that you need. Thanks again for taking my class. And I hope to see you again in a future one