A realistic lotus flower drawing captivates the idea of beauty. With the sheer amount of petals to draw, it is not common to get confused as to which petals are overlapping. In that regard, we will be using the smudge brush to quickly figure out the overlapping petals in the guide on how to draw a lotus.
Aside from its visually appealing colors, a lotus flower serves more than just looks. In terms of practical use, a lotus flower has seeds, roots, and petals that can be completely edible, placed as decorations, or even used for medical purposes in most Asian cultures.
These flowers are also heavily represented in religious context. In Buddhism, for example, a lotus flower represents the purity of the body and soul as it floats above the muddy waters of desire. Therefore, you will see many deities sitting on top of a lotus flower.
It is also this particular type of depiction we will learn how to draw today. While we will not be drawing the roots and any parts under the water, we will be drawing the main flower that floats above the water. The main challenge is to isolate and keep track of all the possible petals as it wraps around the seed pod.
I think the best way to start is to figure out how many petals you are willing to draw. The amount of petals can range from three to ten per every layer. In my case, what is manageable for me would be four petals in a set of three circular sections.
A simple linear skeleton showing a cross shape of the petals arranged properly can really help. From a central point, draw four straight lines coming out of it. This represents one band. Repeat for the two other sections. Once the skeleton is in place, draw the corresponding petals to these lines.
For each petal, do not worry about it overlapping. The main focus here is to establish the right amount of petals. After that, draw in the central seed pod. Once you have all of the pieces in place, fill in the entire sketch with a neutral tone.
Out of all the petals, pick out a set of four from one section and fill it in with a darker color to separate it from the rest of the sections. You will use this key section as a reference point to establish all the petals. You can even number the petals based on the section it belongs to as a means to keep track.
Using tonal variations in the realistic lotus flower drawing is a great way to separate the petals. While there are several techniques to do this, I recommend trying out the smudge tool. When you set the brush tool to 100% pressure with a solid chalk brush tip, it will smudge all the colors in an area in a way that gives very clean edges along with creating streaks of different color tones.
This technique can also act as an eraser because when you smudge from the outside in, it even defines the boundaries of the lotus flower. With this in mind, it's best to start the smudging process using the background petals. Each time you smudge, overlap the petal in front of it just a little.
Continue to smudge each subsequent petal within the section. Again, start with the background petals, then move towards the mid petals, and then to the foreground petals. Finally, use the same technique to smudge out the seed pod in the middle.
After getting to the part where the boundaries are defined, it's time to lock the entire object down. Doing so will prevent any brush strokes to leave the current lotus shape. With a chalk brush, you will be streaking in the flower petals one by one.
This step will require a lot of control and concentration. First, draw the insides of each petal as it appears in order from the back to the front. Do not be afraid to step over the different color differences that separate each petal. You will fix that once all the initial petals are drawn in.
As you fill in the petals, draw in the controlled direction from one end to the other. This will allow you to create simple streaks that look like petal textures. The hardest petals to draw are the foreground petals as it will have a different shape than the ones in the background. However, that is why the initial sketch is so important to figure out this particular perspective.
Going back to your smudge brush, you will draw in the curves of the petals. First, dab in a lighter tone and then hard smudge it into place. This will not only create an illusion that the petals are curved, but it will also reinforce the boundaries between on petal to the next based on this color difference.
The last step in this part would be to, through careful hard smudging and drawing, finish the seed pod in the middle. After that, on a different layer, draw some black lines to indicate the stamens and stigmas of the lotus flower. These black lines are the shadowy parts of the pollen center.
Using a small brush, draw little white curved lines on top of the black lines to create the stamens and the stigmas. From here, you are almost done. The final few steps will involve just adding a bit of realism through creating cast shadows on the realistic lotus flower drawing.
You may consider starting up a new layer just for the shadows. With a chalk brush, draw in where you think the cast shadows of how a petal will interact with the petal below it. The cast shadows itself should resemble the curves of the petals.
Even the stigmas in the center will have a small cast shadow. Gently fill it in facing the opposite direction of your established light source. Once you are satisfied with the cast shadows, you can suggest a background to give it the illusion that the flower is floating on water.
The background does not necessarily have to be detailed. First, sketch a few lines that mirror the flower on a different layer underneath the lotus object. As water can be murky, you can blur these strokes. Next, draw large leaf pads near the flower.
Again, the leaf pads does not need to be extremely detailed. If it is, it will detract from the hard work creating the lotus flower. All you want to do is just give it a clear boundary with a fill light just to tell the audience that this is a leaf pad.
To strengthen the overall light source of the entire composition, one technique I like to use is to create a black and white layer gradient on a completely new layer. Then, change the entire blend mode of the layer to something like 'soft light.' Doing so will quickly create a global light strength quickly and efficiently. Finally, clean up any small details that look out of place to finish the realistic lotus flower drawing.