Margaret Shaw - Artwork - Monoflower in Pencil Tutorial

Here’s the photo that we’re going to work from. It’s a bit blurry but that doesn’t matter for this exercise. I’ve also changed the picture from colour to monotone to help you see clearly the change of tonal values in the image. Where we have the lightest areas that will remain white and where we have the darkest areas which will need a heavy hand with the pencil application.

You can see that for an A4 piece of Paper you’ll mark out 5 columns horizontally each measuring 42mm and 3 columns vertically each measuring 99 mm

Mark out the grid on your paper as described. Don’t be heavy handed with the grid lines as you’ll want to remove the marks as we start to fill the outline the drawing.

Using the grid as a guide draw the outlines of the flower.

Don’t worry about being too accurate. As long as the outline image is something like, this will work.

Don’t draw the outlines to heavily. If you make a mistake you can erase them.

If you’re not happy with a line, then draw in the new line before erasing the old one. Experience has shown that if you erase the incorrect line first you’re likely to re-draw it exactly the same way.

I sometimes find it helpful to drawn on the reference image to give myself a feel for where things are going. Here's the link to the reference photo that you can download and print at A4.

I’ve also provided the outline drawing for download and A4 print so you can trace it. By tracing something you are still drawing and with more experience you’ll trace less and less.

The next stage is to remove the grid lines so you have the outline flower to fill in (I did say don’t be heavy handed with the grid). If you have been heavy handed with the grid – trace your drawing and transfer it onto a fresh piece of paper.

Before we start to fill in the picture, a little practice. We need to be able to create a range of tones with our pencil.

On a spare piece of paper draw a grid (mine’s 1cm squares). Then see how many tones you can get from your pencil. Use the lightest touch to draw the lightest grid and at the other end press on hard to get the darkest grid

Here’s my attempt – not too many tones but enough to give me a range

If you have pencils with different leads than you can get a wider range. H pencils give the lightest tones and B pencils give the darkest tones. But, as with this exercise, you can get a range with just the one pencil.

To help throughout your drawing, I suggest you view  on screen or download / print the finished piece.

As a starting point we’re going to establish the darkest areas. You can see that I’ve put x’s to mark the spots and I’ve added some lines to show where I want the dark areas to end.

Using your pencil pressed on hard fill in the darkest areas – and you can see that I missed an area near the top centre with my x’s. Your pencil marks need to be running along the petals from the centre to outside edges
Under the centre and towards the bottom right – I’ve marked with X’s 2 areas that are dark but not quite as dark as those already completed

Using slightly less pressure on your pencil create a 2nd tone to fill in next to the darkest areas.

Before you start on completing the petals, you’ll need to protect your dark work by having a spare piece of paper that you can use to cover your completed areas so you won’t smudge them.
If by now you’ve already a few smudge marks – rub them out.

We’re going to fill in the petals but before starting work on the main piece you may like to take a spare piece of paper and copy a few practice petals from your main piece and fill them in?

We’ll work from the top of the paper to the bottom off the paper filling in each of the petals by:
Leaving the whites untouched
Using our pencils lightest in the light area
Pressing harder to darken as required.
Before starting the filling in read through the rest of this section for a few hints and tips.

Hints & Tips

Where a petal falls under another petal make it darker at the meeting point – like there’s a shadow.

Try to get your darkest darks against your white areas.

You’ll find that you lose some of the petal outlines as you go along. Drawn them back in pressing the pencil really hard onto the paper to get the darkest of dark lines.

Use long pencil strokes on the larger petals and curve the strokes to follow the petal shape.

To ensure that you get the tones in the right place keep looking at the reference material – another saying I try to abide by – look three times and drawn once.

You may find it easier to occasionally turn the work in its side.

To get a blend in your pencil marks rub them with your finger. Give your finger a wipe with a piece of rag or tissue when done.

Once you’ve got the light areas in you can draw a guide for the darker areas. I’ve emphasized these there. Do them lightly or else you’ll have these guidelines showing through your shading. Make sure your lines are random – we don’t want the same length and keep the lines flowing – we want long lines not a tightly coloured in piece of work

That’s the end of the hints and tips.  Let's draw.

Work the top petals as shown (remember to refer to the finished piece for guidance)and then we’ll be ready to complete the centre. Remember to take a break occasionally or you can even work over several sessions. One of the advantages of working with pencils - no paint that may spoil.

Once you’re ready to start working on the centre - Erase any stray pencil marks so you have a clean white area. Then outline the centre

Now its small light random dashes following the curve of the flower centre. As earlier have a practice on your spare paper before committing to the final piece – I’d hate you to spoil your efforts at this stage.

Look closely and you can see a couple of shadows in the curved petals surrounding the centre.
Use the lightest of pencil lines and blend with your little finger.
If you do smudge then erase the smudges.

Now move to the right of the picture and do the 2 middle right petals.
By this point you’ve probably been leaning over your picture for some time. Something that I should have mentioned earlier – lean your picture up and step back.
I’m hoping that you’re liking what you’re seeing.

We’re on the final stages with the petals at the bottom from left to right. You’ll see that there is a petal underneath the mid left one that I missed at the initial outline drawing stage so a little dark area is needed to show its end.
On the bottom right petal try to keep the curve between the white area and the shaded area in line with the dark area.

Once all the petals are complete have a review. Are there any whites that need to have smudges remove and are there any tones that need to be darkened?

Once you’re happy sign your work – I decided to sign on the bottom left.  

If you’re pleased with what you’ve done its quite amazing what a mount and frame can do for a piece of artwork.
A4 is a standard size and you should be able to buy a mount and frame without much difficulty.

If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial – let me know and I’ll create some more let’s draw sessions along the same premise of lets draw using every day materials. We may use a ballpoint pen next or even a combination of pen and pencil.
I’d like to see your finished pieces and with your permission I’ll add them to the web site and the social media.

E mail me your comments or send me photos of your finished pieces to –