We want to set you up for success as you begin the botanical drawing process!
Here are some of our best tips to prepare your workspace to help before you even put your pencil to paper:
Prepare Your Workspace
Ready your supplies. Gather and arrange any paper, pencils, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, paintbrushes, palettes, water, paper towels, scrap paper, lamps, and any other supplies you might need. This can also include putting on music or otherwise creating a calm atmosphere in which you’ll enjoy working!
Light Source Setup
Light should hit your subject at about a 45 degree angle from the upper left. Use a box to block out other light sources in the room so you can clearly notice where shadows and highlights appear.
Before you start drawing, it’s helpful to notice the basic shapes that make up your plant and draw thumbnail sketches to remind you how you’re wanting to draw the light. Learn more about Light Source.
First, consider composition. What do you most want to communicate about your plant? Let the plant guide you and tell you what to draw. Note that you’ll want to show more details up front where it’s brightest (and make things farther back more in shadow and less detailed) to create the illusion and let your mind imagine the form.) (Read more tips on composition here.)
Also consider perspective. Perspective is what makes form and space look three-dimensional. We can create the illusion of depth using foreshortening. Try the cup exercise and learn more about perspective.
Then, consider pruning (choosing how you want your subject to be arranged) to optimally communicate your subject’s form to others.
Finally, position your subject in the optimal location for the view you want to capture. This can involve whatever you need – using a frog-prong flower holder or masking tape, raising your subject up off of your drawing table to be more at eye level, etc.
Get as close as you can to your subject, and get comfortable! You don’t want to move, as it’ll change your view as you draw and make measurements inaccurate.
Most importantly, your creations should come from a place of JOY. Rekindle your sense of curiosity and wonder by practicing your beginners’ mind!
If you want to practice the fundamentals on your own time, try a free 1-week trial of one of our courses, Botanical Basics or Practice of Botanical Drawing, where you can not only watch helpful video lessons but also post your progress to our community Art Feed and receive positive and helpful personalized feedback on your drawings. You can also join our monthly Webinar where we look at all of the lovely work from the past month, ooh and aah at your talents, and discuss possible improvements and suggestions for future pieces.
Take a FREE sneak peek at lessons from our courses on Light Source, Perspective, Color Theory, and more!