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Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Drawing a Beautiful Sunflower

Learn how to draw a beautiful sunflower with this easy step-by-step guide. It’s perfect for beginners and artists and includes tips for sunflower petals and leaves.

Are you ready to bring some of the most cheerful flowers into your sketchbook? Sunflowers are among the most beautiful flowers you can draw with their vibrant yellow petals and dark green leaves. They are a favourite subject for artists like Vincent van Gogh and brighten any art piece with their sunny disposition. Whether you’re looking for an easy step-by-step guide or aiming for a realistic sunflower, you’re in the right place.

Before we dive into our drawing tutorial, I want to share a fantastic resource with you. Pictureboxblue has an array of vintage sunflower drawings that are perfect for reference. They offer many other flower and plant drawing tutorials, including mushrooms, ferns, hibiscus, and daffodils.

How to draw sunflowers pin

Sunflower Facts

Did you know that sunflowers have been cultivated for over 4,500 years? Every part of the sunflower plant is edible, from the leaves to the roots. Sunflowers exhibit heliotropism, turning their heads to follow the sun until they age and face east, aiding pollinating insects like bees.

Sunflowers can grow incredibly tall. The tallest ever recorded, grown by Hans-Peter Schiffer in Germany, reached 30 feet and required scaffolding for support. There are 70 varieties of sunflowers, including red and white ones, not just the traditional yellow.

These flowers are environmental superheroes, capable of absorbing toxins like radiation. They were planted after the nuclear disasters in Chornobyl and Fukushima to help the land recover.

Fun fact: what appears as one large flower is made up of up to two thousand tiny florets, making them ideal for pollinators.

Now, let’s get started on our beautiful sunflower drawing!

How To Draw A Sunflower

Draw the Center of the Sunflower

Step 1: As in my previous flower tutorials, I like to use circles to guide my drawing, and this is particularly useful when drawing sunflowers. So, by hand or using a compass, draw a circle for the centre of the flower called a disk floret. Then, draw an outer circle for the petals or ray florets.

The size can vary as they come in many varieties, but I have done the large circle for the disk floret with a diameter of 8cm and a further 4cm for the outer circle. I have also added a small circle in the centre of the disk floret for added detail.

 3 concentric circles in pencil on white paper

Step 2: Divide your circles into 16 equal parts; this will help guide your placement of petals.

dividing the circle in 16

Drawing The Petals Of The Sunflower

Step 3: It is helpful to decide the shape of your petals, as different varieties of sunflowers can have different petal shapes; some can be very uniform and pointy, and others are rounded. Look at the gorgeous vintage botanical prints of sunflowers for inspiration.

Notice how some are twisted and different sizes on the same flower head. This variation will make for a more realistic drawing. Here, the practice petals I have drawn remind me of small flames.

drawings of lots of sunflower petals

Step 4: Once you feel confident with your petal shapes, add them in a single layer to the centre of your flower, the disk floret.  Once you have finished the first layer, add another layer of petals behind it.

drawing sunflower petals around the center circle in four stages

Outline the Sunflower Leaves

Step 5: Add a stem leaf and buds to your drawing and fill in the details on the centre of the flower. This can be tricky. I use squiggly lines, but you can leave this until the painting or colouring stage if you are going to add colour.

Pencil drawing of a sunflower with stem and leaf
pencil drawing of a sunflower with stem bud and leaf

Adding Colour To Sunflower Drawing

Step 6: Add colour. I first practised my earlier petal drawings using a combination of yellow and orange watercolour pencils, then shading to define the petals. I like to build up the colour gradually. Sometimes, it helps to start with a light yellow wash and then build up darker-coloured layers.

painting practice of sunflower petals
painting hand drawn sunflower with watercolour pencils

Step 7: Colouring the centre of the sunflower can be tricky. I suggest you look at the vintage botanical prints to inspire you and see the variation in different varieties. I used a brush and applied the paint in dots. You may discover a better method, so practice and experiment first.

Painting a hand drawn sunflower petals with a brush
painting center of the sunflower showing hand and brush

To finish, I added a fine line of black pen to the outline of the flower. This gives it a slightly more defined look, but you may prefer a more natural look and leave it as it is.

finished sunflower drawing with watercolour pencils

Tiger-Eye Sunflower Tutorial

I drew three tiger-eye sunflowers because I found this variety particularly striking, with a contrasting ring of red on the petals. However, this method could be applied to any variety.

Step 1: As in the tutorial above, draw circles to guide your drawing. Here, I have drawn three slightly different-sized overlapping circles: a circle for the disk floret in the centre and a larger circle for the ray florets.

Remember that when drawing a bunch of flowers, not all of the flowers will be visible in their entirety as they are behind the other flower heads, and drawing circles for the heads can help achieve this. Then as before divide your circles into 16 equal parts.

how to draw tiger sunflower petals

Step 2: As in the tutorial above, consider the variety of sunflowers you want to draw and practice the petal shapes. Here, I have decided to go for thinner, longer, more pointy, and uniform petals in a single layer as I have decided to draw the tiger-eye variety of Sunflower, but you can choose any variety you like, and this method will work.

Step 3: Once you are confident with drawing your petals, add them to your disk florets, taking care where they overlap, using the segmented circles to guide you.

painting the petals on a bunch of three tiger sunflowers

Step 4: Add colour here. I started with a yellow watercolour wash for the petals, and once that was dry, I added the distinctive red circle for the tiger-eye variety. I then painted the disk floret using a dabbing technique with the paintbrush, but experiment with a method that works for you.

three drawings of tiger sunflowers with painted petals
watercolour pencil drawing of three tiger sunflowers

Finishing Touches

Congratulations! You’ve just completed a beautiful sunflower drawing. If you enjoyed this how to draw sunflower tutorial, check Pictureboxblue for more botanical drawing guides. Drawing sunflowers can be one of the most accessible and enjoyable ways to practice your art skills, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be creating masterpieces in no time.

Check out the site’s vast collection of vintage botanical prints for more floral drawing inspiration.

And if you love sunflowers as much as I do then you might enjoy this fabric sunflower craft.

hand drawing a sunflower with text overlay

If you fancy, you can Buy Me A Coffee Here.

Donna @ Modern on Monticello

Monday 8th of July 2024

Beautiful tutorial. You are very talented. Thanks for always sharing with us at the link party. This post will be a feature this week. #HomeMattersParty


Tuesday 9th of July 2024

Thank you so much and thank you for the feature.


Friday 5th of July 2024

What a fabulous tutorial!


Saturday 6th of July 2024

Thank you so much


Friday 5th of July 2024

Thanks so much for this tutorial. Trying to draw sunflowers has always frustrated me, but I think this method will help immensely.


Saturday 6th of July 2024

Thank you, and good luck with your drawings


Thursday 4th of July 2024

Love this tutorial! Thank you :-) Sharon xx


Thursday 4th of July 2024

That's lovely to hear, thank you.