How to Draw Plants

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When drawing plants, understand that most foliate has axial symmetry and grows in a somewhat symmetrical pattern, spiraling out from the center, and then study the individual shapes that make up each leave or stem. Draw different varieties of plants using a few general rules and a demonstration from an experienced artist and art supply store employee in this free video on drawing.

Part of the Video Series: Drawing Lessons
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Laura Pace. I'm here at Asel Art Supply. And today, we're going to talk about how to draw plants. There's a lot of diversity in the plant kingdom, but there's some general rules you can remember that'll help you understand and analyze how to draw plants. Most animals and human beings have something called bilateral symmetry. That means they have a central spinal cord and a mirror image of the features on both sides of their body. We have two arms, two legs, two eyes that look the same. Well, most plants have axial symmetry. They have a central spine or a central area where the limbs or branches of the plant grow out and form a roughly symmetrical plant. I drew an agave here. This is a side view of the agave I drew from a photograph. But if we were to look from the top down at that agave plant, you could see from this dot in the center, the agave leaves grow out and form a somewhat symmetrical circular form. Another thing about most plants is the bigger, larger, older growth is going to be at the base of the plant. You can see these agave leaves at the bottom are the biggest, oldest ones. And the leaves at the center, at the top, are going to be the newest and smallest ones. Another thing to remember when you're looking at plants, to draw them, is to look at their individual components first before you construct them together. So when I looked at a single agave leaf, I could see that it had an area where it joined the base of the plant that was kind of like an oval. It has kind of a teardrop shape. It's wide and fleshy at the bottom, has kind of a bowl shape that helps it retain moisture, grows out to a point. After you've drawn in the general shape of your plant, you want to go back in and give it some more details. So in this agave leaf, I drew in the ribs and veins of this plant that go the length of the plant. And I also noticed it has a little ridge of teeth on the edge of each leaf. Here's another page of plant drawings I did. Here's a picture of some royal palms that I just drew in silhouette. But you can see they have a very long upright trunk. And although each one is different, they all have a similar shape. The older growth of these palm trees falls down in a cluster at the bottom of the crown of the tree and gather around the tree. These are the old palm leaves that are brown and dried up. The mature leaves kind of stick out from the side. And the newer young growth is up right at the top. Each individual leaf makes kind of a fan shape. So they grow from the central axis and have slim leaves that come out from the center stem. And their outside shape makes a fan-shaped arc. Now here's a picture of a pine tree. It also has a really long, straight central trunk. The branches grow out almost horizontally. And when we look at a pine tree, or any other kind of tree, from a distance, we're not going to see its individual leaves or pine needles. We're going to see masses of foliage, which I just drew in like little cloud shapes here. And light is going to have the same effect on all these masses of foliage. If my light is coming in from this direction, the light is going to hit these cloud-shaped masses on this side, on the top of the right side. And the shadow area is going to be down here on the bottom at the left side. Although if I got close up to this tree, you'd see the individual needles on the pine. Here's a picture of a deciduous tree. This one's a mulberry tree. A good thing to do is look at trees in the wintertime and notice the shapes of the trunks without any foliage on them. When you add the foliage, again you're not going to see individual leaves. You're going to see masses of shapes that have kind of an outside shape. And each shape is going to be shaded with light coming from this way. The shading is going to be at the bottom on the left side. But here's an individual leaf of a mulberry tree. It's interesting that this leaf has a similar branching pattern that the trunk of the main tree has. And its outside shape is similar to the outside shape of the big tree. Now that's what I have to tell you today about drawing plants. Practice some on your own. Go outside and look at plants. Make lots of drawings.

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