Practice Method #2 - Simple Line Drawings


Four Ways To Practice Simple Line Drawings

Practicing simple line drawings on a regular basis is very important and also very rewarding. Over the years I have kept my drawings in a file on my computer and recently I have been looking back over my drawings and I'm amazed at the improvement.  This is encouraging and makes me want to practice more.


For one of my first botanical simple line drawings, I used this lily from my garden. It’s always good to use a live object when you can, whether you are able to take a clipping into your work area, or spend some time out in the field.

Take time to study its petals, leaves, and stem from different positions.  For a pleasing composition try laying the subject on its side or securing it in an upright position or while out in the field re-position yourself until you get a pleasing view that you will enjoy drawing from.

As you can see, I kept it simple and didn’t try any tonal effects or shading at this point.

My goal was to simply get an accurate and simple line drawing.  In botanical illustration, it is so important to train ourselves to draw exactly what we see and in order to get it botanically correct you will need to measure your object and draw it to scale.

If we think of this simple line drawing as the foundation to build something upon we will be reminded of its importance to the whole piece. Like a house, the foundation has to be perfectly made.  So it is with our simple line drawings in botanical illustration.

In order to achieve this you can pull your photos of the real subject and your drawing into a collage through or other editing program and compare the two while side by side…

Doing simple line drawings like this on a regular basis will really help with your eye/hand coordination and help you to get really good at drawing only what you see rather than allowing your brain to draw what it thinks it sees. This is hard at first and takes a lot of practice, but it becomes easier in time as you continue to practice!


You can use your own photography to make simple line drawings as well. Make it a habit to take many photos of the plants and flowers around you and then use them to make simple line drawings. 

This simple line drawing of our bunny "Peter" was made from my photo since Peter was our very first family bunny from almost 20 years ago. Watch my blog posts for the full rendering of "Peter".


Another way you can practice your line drawings is to get some botanical books with studies for you to do. 

There are many wonderful books that provide drawing assignments in them. For instance “The Art of Botanical Painting” provides a great chapter on Drawing Techniques that shows you how to measure your subject accurately and then takes you through 5 stages in order to create a wonderful graphite composition.

Ann Swan’s “Botanical Portraits” also has wonderful guidance in learning how to make simple line drawings and takes you right on through to a final botanical composition in colored pencil.

One of my favorite books to look through to get inspired to do a line drawing is “Botany For The Artist” by Sarah Simblet.  Last night while I was looking through this book, I was inspired to work on this simple line drawing of wild flowers…  I love how Sarah did her wild flower study using graphite and only three watercolors:  Transparent Yellow, Permanent Rose and Ultramarine.

I am always inspired when I read through Mary Ann Scott’s “Botanical Sketchbook”.  The juices start to flow and I never know what might transpire – but I always know that it will be beneficial practice in simple line drawing.  I used just two tools here; My favorite Faber-Castell 9000 Series graphites and my kneadable putty eraser.


Another way to be inspired in your simple line drawings is to take an online class or tutorial.  One downloadable course that I have enjoyed so much was by Karen Kluglein called “Drawing Flowers Realistically” – This gave me some good perspective drawings to work on and Karen is a great teacher.

Another course that was great for learning how to draw was with Wendy Hollender.  She uses colored pencils and watercolor for her botanical illustrations and her drawing techniques in each video make a wonderful practice time.  In my Sketchbook below I used my colored pencils only and was very surprised by the result!  Great fun and great practice.

I am in the process of putting together my very first graphite course called "Trio Graphite Course" where we will be practicing our graphite techniques in sketchbooks and creating three beautiful compositions in graphite to be labeled, signed and framed!  

Although we have many resources available to us, the best way is to go out into the field and create your own study page as often as possible.  You will learn so much more about your subject when you stay a while in its personal environment and you will be pleasantly surprised how that will be translated into your final piece of work.

The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.
— Psalm 119:130