How To Draw A Poppy Flower

Painting in the highlights of the poppy flower.Want to capture the delicate and beautiful essence of flowers? Simple flower sketches are a great way to relax and experiment with colours, shades and forms. Here you’ll get some drawing techniques to learn how to draw a poppy flower… let’s dive in!

Did you know that the red poppy flower has become a symbol of remembrance on Anzac Day?

So What Does The Anzac Poppy Represent?

Everyone’s familiar with the solemn Anzac Day dawn service that’s held in gratitude and reverence to those who lost their lives in the First World War. Maybe you participated in the traditional ‘gunfire breakfast’ with tea, coffee and bread. Maybe you watched the ceremonious Anzac Day march to honour lost friends and family. My favourite is eating the Anzac Day biscuits, which is a far cry from the original long shelf-life biscuit substitute for bread.

Australian Servicemen, Anzac Day Parade, London, 1916

Australian Servicemen, Anzac Day Parade, London, 1916

One of these long-standing traditions is to place a wreath of poppy flowers and rosemary on graves of those who served in the armed forces in memory of their service.

 Field of poppies.

John McCrae, a Canadian soldier and poet was moved by the death of a close friend, Alexis Helmer that led him to write the poem, In Flanders Fields. It describes the rows of crosses marking graves of soldiers and the natural beauty of the poppy flowers that surrounded their bodies – a tribute to the steady cycle of life in the natural world.

I hope you will take the time to read it and ponder its wonderful meaning.

How To Draw A Poppy Flower

This easy drawing tutorial will help you learn the drawing principles of most flowers using simple shapes and lines. So gather your favourite materials and follow along with this step-by-step method.

Stem, buds, seed cases & leaves

Who doesn’t recognise the papery bright blossoms of a poppy flower with its warm colours and delicate petals? When studying your subject gather as many photo references as possible. For an authentic feel, try to get your hands on the real thing if you can.

The poppy plant has hair sticking out of its stems and has leaves with pointed lobes. Their feathery leaves are also beautiful to look at.

Steps how to draw a poppy leaf.

The unopened flower heads droop and are also covered by bumps with hairs.

Steps how to draw a poppy flower bud.

When drawing the stem of a flower people often draw a dark line, but if you look closely, you will notice highlights and shadows – seemingly small details that will enhance the beauty of your drawings.

The beauty of the poppy bloom is a short four weeks during late spring and early summer. Once the petals drop off, it leaves a developing seed head. The stigma cap is tightly shut to trap the seeds within. The centre is populated by many dark anthers. The stigma has a green disk with purple radial rays giving it its distinctive shape.

Steps how to draw a poppy seed head.

The seed head can be drawn from the shape of a cylinder. Here’s how.

Flowers and Petals

The common poppy flowers have four crinkled petals. Petals are commonly bright scarlet with a dark blotch at the base, but they can vary from white, pink, mauve and sometimes variegated. Let’s begin learning how to draw a poppy flower.

1. Start by drawing the basic shapes, a circle or an ellipse, into which the petals will form. When you practice sketching a flower, start with a simple outline as a guide. The central petals will form a cone.

 Using basic shapes and lines to draw a poppy flower.

2. Add the inner petals; notice how they overlap. See how a petal looks flat or foreshortened depending on the angle of the flower.

 Using basic shapes and lines to draw a poppy flower.

3. Now add the outer petals. Observe the creases and folds on the petals. These are the little details that add to their attractiveness.

Adding the outer petals to the basic shapes.

4. The stigma can be drawn as a small cylinder in the centre. Also add a guideline for the anthers which will be used later.

Adding the stigma to the poppy flower.

5. Now add the radial rays that are formed at the top of the stigma.

Adding the details to the stigma to the poppy flower.

6. Add in some filaments onto which the anthers will sit.

Drawing the filaments of the poppy flower.

7. Finally, you can complete it by drawing in the anthers.

Drawing the anthers of the poppy flower.

Don’t get bogged down by the details. Uneven linework and imperfections add to that lovely feeling of organic beauty that flowers bring.

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How to Colour a Poppy

In this part of the tutorial, you will learn how to digitally draw and colour the poppy flower. However, similar principles apply to traditional painting as well. Pro tip: if you’re painting this digitally, create a new layer for each step.

1. Begin by drawing the flower outlines. If you have followed along so far you can use one of the drawings you’d created earlier.

How to colour the poppy flower.

2. You can now add a scarlet red for the petals, dark olive green for the stem and light green for the stamen.

Adding the colours to the petals and stem of the poppy flower.

3. Pick a deeper red colour and add the shadows and mid-tones. If you are painting it digitally you can set your blending mode to Multiply. Notice how the petals curve and crinkle in certain areas.

Adding shadows to the poppy flower.

4. Pick a light orange-yellow to add the highlights to the petals. See how some of the light penetrates through the translucent petals. For digital painters, set your layer blending mode to Screen.

Adding highlights to the poppy flower.

5. Now you can add the details of the stamen and anther. The stigma has a green disk with purple radial rays. Disperse the anthers at random to make them look natural.

Drawing the stigma and stamen colours to the poppy flower.

6. You are now ready to complete the flower petals by adding some bright highlights to the edges of the petals and anthers. Add a shadow where flowers overlap based on your light source. Set your blending mode to Screen if you are painting it digitally.

 Painting in the highlights of the poppy flower.

7. Next, add the highlights on the right edge of the stem.

Colouring in the highlights on the stem of the poppy flower.

8. Finally, add detailing of the fine hair sticking out on the stems and you’re done!

Drawing the hair of the stem of the flower.

Exercises to Try: draw poppy flowers

Now it’s your turn to try out these methods on your own. Follow the steps to draw a poppy flower or pick your favourite flower – the key is to draw as many as possible. Keep it loose, so you don’t get caught up in the idea of perfection.

Try going out in nature – a park or your backyard – and sketch as many flowers as you can.

Use the techniques learned earlier to explore drawing other flowers too and you will never run out of beautiful things to draw.

Digital sketches of poppy flowers.

Need some help with your artwork? Share your work with me for a free critique lesson! I will help you gain the skills you need to improve your drawings.

I hope this tutorial helps you draw better. If you have any questions, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you. I’d love to see how your drawings turn out. Tag me on your social media @drawingwithpri when you use this tutorial.

Pin this guide to your Pinterest boards so you can return to it and use this method to draw flowers. Follow Drawing with Pri on Pinterest for more resources on this topic and plenty of references to perfect your artwork.

And as always, if you loved this tutorial and found it useful, please share it on your favourite social media and tag anyone who would like it too.


  • Thank you for you helpful advice.

  • Thank you for sharing such detailed instructions!

  • Thank you for the detailed instructions.

  • wow


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