How to Draw Poppies

By Erik Steel
Poppies in Iran

Poppies, aside from their medicinal and other, nefarious uses, offer the student of drawing a wonderful introduction to flowers. They have a simple shape and tend to be monochromatic, making them one of nature's simplest subjects. Once mastered, the poppy can add a decorative, personal touch to notes, cards and envelopes.

Select a poppy to draw. There are many varieties of poppy, including the California, the corn, the Iceland, the Mexican, the opium, and the oriental. Decide between a photograph or drawing from life. You will be able to see more detail if you use a live flower, but you can take all the time you want using a photograph as your model.

Draw a group of poppies. Poppies grow in large, beautiful fields in nature, and this is one of the most realistic ways to draw poppies. Using a standard pencil or light green pencil, sketch straight and gently curving lines for stems. (if you sketched with a standard pencil, you can retrace later with a green pencil.) Next, draw soft, triangular shapes for the cup of the flower (many poppies are quite deep and look like a bell in profile) with a red pencil. For a poppy facing the viewer, complete the center of more circular red shape with a black dot. Shade the base of the stems with another color of green to create the impression of ground.

To draw an individual poppy, study an individual flower closely and select pencils in colors that match its coloration. Next, begin in the center of the flower, drawing a black or dark-green center and any filaments. Next, sketch an outline of the flower, remembering that poppies have less dramatic petal shape than other flowers.

Begin to color the petals. It can be easiest to start with the darkest areas first, perhaps leaving the lightest areas unshaded. The coloration of poppies moves from the center to the edge of the petal, an effect that can be accomplished with lightly made, slightly curving lines of contrasting color (red and pink or a lighter red, for instance, depending on the particular flower). Leaving areas not completely shaded actually creates a more realistic look, since, on close inspection, flowers do not have pure coloration. Darken the areas where the petals meet to show an overlap. Complete the poppy by drawing its stem, which should gently curve from behind the flower. Try blending several shades of green and even brown for a realistic stem.

To draw a poppy in profile, begin with what will become the outside of the bell-shape mentioned in Step 3-the outside should eventually appear to be a shallow cup, shaped something like a contact lens. This should be the darkest part of the flower, since less "light" is striking it-the higher the contrast, the better the effect. Next, sketch and then color two or parts of three petals opposite your cup, creating a 3-D feel to the flower. Finish shading these as in Step 4. Next, draw the black or dark-green center of the flower quite close to outside the cup and add details like the filaments. Complete with a stem, which should radiate from the back of the flower directly behind the dark center and shade as in Step 4.

Tip

In addition to the variety of poppies available, in can be fun to draw poppies in different parts of their life-cycles, such as when the poppy is crowning-when it shows something of a nightmarish gray mouth-to when it is budding, showing a growing moon of color surrounded in fuzzy green. Many poppies appear to be kind of rough around the edges, so a stray line or two outside the sketch can actually make for a more realistic flower. Go ahead-color outside the lines.

About the Author

Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."