Practicing Apples


Looking to practice creating beautiful patterns while maintaining 3D form? Apples are as satisfying to draw as they are to eat! You will learn techniques combining colored pencil and watercolor to render a realistic fruit (that will make a delightful snack when you’re done!). Work on a single fruit, and/or lay out a more complex composition with stem, leaves, and cut fruit. If you can, try to source a fruit with stem and leaves attached (but it’s also totally fine to pick up any fresh apple from your local market). 


Watch the Workshop Recording of Awesome Autumn Apples

(recorded October 2022)


Instructor Doug‘s apples from a weekend workshop at Hollengold Farm

“Had a great time at the workshop at Wendy’s farm last weekend!!! It was so good to see old friends and meet an amazing group of artists and their equally amazing artwork!!!” –Doug Milne, Draw Botanical Instructor

I love to pick my subject fresh from the tree because it gives me the chance to connect with the plant and its habitat. Experiencing the intimate parts of the plant help me to plan interesting and informative compositions that can tell a “story” about a particular plant. Seeing how our subjects grow not only helps us understand their forms, but also reminds us how all of nature is connected; we all need sun, water, and nurturing.


Artist: Wendy Hollender


Use this step-by-step outline as a guide to draw an apple, but don’t be afraid to do things differently! We encourage you to experiment with what works for you and the live subject you choose to draw.

(Remember that though this lesson from The Practice of Botanical Drawing course specifies techniques for apples, the fundamental skills can be applied to any subject and are designed to be visited again and again.)

Every drawing starts with setting yourself up for success! This includes pruning your subject, considering perspective, setting up your light source, and positioning yourself at your drawing table. (Find more free tips in the courses category of our blog)


1: Measure

First, listen… with your eyes. Measure life-size dimensions and sketch your outline with graphite pencil to ensure accuracy. (Helpful tips for accurate measuring here.)


2: Tone

Ignore color at first, and use a neutral color like Dark Sepia to tone overlaps and communicate 3D form.

3: Watercolor

Now, begin to pay attention to the color of the apple skin. Starting with a watercolor wash instantly breathes life into your drawing. Remember to stay true to form and leave a white spot for your highlight!


4: (Optional) Embossing

To render the dot pattern we see on apple skin, try using an embossing tool! When you draw over the embossed dots, they will appear as light dots.


5: Layer Colored Pencil

Add layers of dry colored pencil, staying true to the colors and pattern of the subject.


6: Contrast

Maintain contrast between overlapping elements as you add layers. This may mean adding more dark colors (like Red Violet and Dark Sepia) on top of your colors to keep the form looking three-dimensional. 

Tip: Tone the stem like a cylinder!


7: Saturation

Layer colored pencil and watercolor to add surface detail and get rich saturation. 

8: (Optional) Details

Add leaf details. (Learn tips on drawing leaves here.)

Adding seeds, cut fruit, or other stages in a plant’s life cycle to your drawing can create interesting compositions (if you’re looking for an additional challenge ;)).


Most importantly, your creations should come from a place of JOY.

Rekindle your sense of curiosity and wonder by practicing your beginners’ mindFind more helpful motivation here.


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