Art History Lab

How to Create a Realistic Sunflower Sketch in 19 Steps

Creating a Realistic Sunflower Sketch

Sunflowers are natural wonders, and whether you’re an artist or simply an admirer, the sight of a blooming sunflower can be truly breathtaking. If you’re an artist looking to capture the essence of these beautiful flowers in your sketchbook, then look no further.

In this article, we will guide you through the steps to create a realistic sunflower sketch. 1.

Sketch Construction

Before drawing the petals, we need to create a construction of our sunflower. To do this, start by drawing a circle at the center of your page.

This circle will represent the flower’s center, or the disk. Draw a small “x” inside the circle, marking the center point.

This point and the circle should be as precise as possible. From the center, draw small vertical lines that extend outward from the circle.

These lines will act as the sunflower’s guide or structure. Once you’ve drawn these lines, you can begin drawing the petals.

2. Petal Drawing Outline

To draw the petals, you will start at the outer edge of the circle.

Each petal should have a slight curve in it, downward towards the stem. Start with one petal, and draw the entire outline of it.

The inner layer of petals should sit higher on the disk than the outer layer of petals. Remember, the petals should have a jagged edge, similar to rays of the sun, and the more pointed and rounded they are, the more realistic and detailed your sunflower will look.

Keep adding these petals until you’ve completed the entire circumference. 3.

Stem and Leaf Branches

Next, create the sunflower’s stem and leaf branches. Draw a line down from the center of the disk that’s roughly twice as long as the petals and then draw several lines branching down from it.

These lines should represent the multiple leaves branching off the stem. The leaves should be jagged and slightly pointed, just like the petals.

Sunflower leaves are usually broad and have an oval-like shape. 4.

Sunflower Leaves

Draw the sunflower’s leaves. As previously mentioned, the leaves are broad, have a slightly jagged edge, and can be almost circular or oval in shape.

To mimic the raised veins on the leaf, draw lines of varying thickness off the central vein of the leaf. These lines will be more pronounced on the underside of the leaf.

5. Internal Floret

Now, let’s draw the internal floret.

The floret is the small, inner circle in the center of the sunflower. It is filled with small seeds.

To draw, start at the center of the disk and draw a slightly smaller circle inside the previous one. Fill this circle with lightly drawn seeds.

These seeds do not have to be perfect and precise, as the idea is to add texture to the floret. 6.

Base Color Coat

To start colorizing, paint the sunflower’s petals yellow with an even coat of yellow paint. Yellow is the prominent color on a sunflower, and painting it creates an instant visual image.

Look to bring out the vibrant and beautiful coloring of the sunflower petals. 7.

Sunflower Seeds

Next, paint the seeds in the floret with light brown paint. You should use light strokes and employ your tiny detail brush to cover the different seeds inside the disk.

Start by painting the center of the disk, complete that, and then make your way outwards. This process helps prevent smudging and smears.

8. Stem and Leaves Coloring

Continue painting by using olive green paint for the sunflower’s stem and leaf branches.

When using green, use a smooth and small brush to paint tiny light brushes along the stem and branches. Oval leaves should be painted with the same green paint, but a medium-sized brush must be used.

9. Additional Color Coat

Add orange paint with a blending brush, leaving the center (petals) yellow.

Start by adding the orange to the center of the top petals, then blending out towards the edges. You should use less paint along the edges and more in the middle, with the orange gradually disappearing toward the edges.

10. Highlighting

Adding a little bit of light yellow paint around the petals’ edges can create dimension.

This paint should be diluted significantly to give a natural feel to the highlight. Paint around the edges of the petals with very light pressure using a smooth blending brush.

11. Fine Hairlines and Textures

Use a fine brush with bright yellow and orange paint and create an illusion of a little extra texture on the petals.

Keep the brush slightly angled, making regular flicks to the petals’ tips, each curling inward and overlapping. 12.

Floret Coloring Detail

Using the finest brush at your disposal, paint the sections of seeds with yellow paint. Take it slow, using a single brush stroke for the seeds, and make sure they are dispersed with a good spacing.

13. Shading

Using a tiny blending brush and black paint, add shaded areas, followed by using brown paint for the shading of the center’s seeds.

The more you add, the better the overall effect will be, so be sure to add slight layers and work slowly. 14.

Blending Colors

Blending colors is an essential part of creating a realistic sunflower. For this step, use orange paint and your smooth blending brush to give an even and seamless finish across the petals and center of the flower.

Use loose sections of paint and blend softly to avoid hard lines. 15.

Leaf Texture

To produce leaf texture, mix white paint and orange or brown paint to dirty it up slightly. Along the leafs center vein, paint small white lines, and then mix the orange paint to create a perfect vein.

Use a fine brush to create jagged, thin lines that emanate from the veins. 16.

Shading Leaves

Using dark green and black paint, use a tiny blending brush to shade the sunflower leaves’ underside. Begin painting slightly out from the center vein of the leaf and create fine lines out to the leaf edges, blending them together.

17. Leaf Highlighting

Brighten your sunflower leaves using grass green and white paint.

Start by using the grass green and white paint mixture to add a few broad highlights to the leaves on the sunflower’s top and side sides. 18.

Highlighting Stem and Branches

Use a fine detail brush and white and bright green paint to add a bit of highlight to the sunflower’s stem. Paint in light, little squiggles, following the stem and leaf branches.

19. Final Outline

Finally, create a final outline for your realistic sunflower sketch.

Use a smooth-finished brush pen to draw seamless lines perfectly.

Choice of Medium for Coloring Sunflower Sketch

Now that we’ve gone through all the necessary steps to create a realistic sunflower, let’s explore some mediums to colorize it. In addition to physical mediums like paints and coloring markers, digital mediums like drawing tablets can be used as well.

Physical Mediums

If you prefer to use physical mediums, painting with acrylic is the easiest way to get started. They are less expensive than oils and watercolors and are perfect for beginners.

They dry in only a few hours, and you can alter or remove any mistakes since they work on most surfaces. Coloring markers are also popular for precise coloring.

Markers provide bright and aligned coloring, which is precisely what you’ll need with a sunflower. You must put down many layers of ink, especially if you’re using primary colors, to get a more substantial and consistent finish.

Be sure to plan your layout and coloring before painting since color inversion never works well with markers.

Digital Mediums

Drawing tablets are another choice for sketch artists. Adobe Illustrator is the software of choice since it is effective and well-equipped for illustrative work.

Adobe Fresco is excellent for watercolor-like rendering and other attractive software out there to provide the necessary flair in digital designs and illustrations.


Creating realistic sunflower art is an engaging and fun experience that allows your innermost creativity to shine. Start by sketching a precise guide to the flower’s structure and then colorize it to give the sunflower its vibrant characteristics.

Of course, every artist has a uniqueness, so use your color selection and sketching style to produce your sunflower masterpiece. In this article, we have delved into the steps to create a realistic sunflower sketch, from constructing the outline to colorizing it with physical and digital mediums.

By following the guidelines to sketching a sunflower, we learned that painting the sunflower using acrylic colors can be an inexpensive and easy way for beginners. Drawing tablets and software like Adobe Illustrator come with excellent tools for creating illustrative sunflower art.

The step-by-step process presented in this article can act as a guide to create your unique sunflower masterpiece.

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