Learn How to Draw a Chrysanthemum Bloom

01
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Drawing an Ogiku, or Big Chrysanthemum

H South, from a photo (cc) Keith 'Pheanix'.

The chrysanthemum flower is a common theme in the art of many cultures and it's fun to draw. You'll find it used many times in Japanese art, Chinese scroll paintings, and Korean celadon vases. It also carries various cultural and symbolic meanings in feng shui, pagan traditions, and traditional Chinese culture.

The Japanese word ogiku means "big chrysanthemum." For this drawing lesson, we're going to use a flower that's classified as an "irregular incurve." In the end, you'll have a simple line drawing of a large bloom offset in the corner of the paper. It's a simple project that anyone can do and great practice for beginners.

Supplies Needed

This tutorial is ​a simple line drawing, so you can choose the paper and pen or pencil you want to work with. It can be a practice drawing for your sketchbook in graphite or a nice finished drawing in pen and ink. Whatever you choose, the goal is to keep it clean and simple.

02
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Finding a Chrysanthemum to Draw

As always, it's a good idea to find the right reference image to draw from. Drawing while looking at a real flower would be even better, but you can make do with a photograph.

In order to be able to share your work without copyright restrictions, you should try to take your own photos. This is a great excuse to snap pictures whenever you see a great flower because you never know when you'll want to use it for reference.

If you don't have your own photo, another option is to find one with a creative commons license. There are a few good websites available for this and one of the best is Flickr. You can filter the search results to include only those with a "Creative Commons" license and narrow it down further to those you can use commercially. 

By doing this and reading any specific conditions for a particular image, you can feel good if you ever decide to sell the artwork you create from the photo. For example, the photo used in this tutorial was made available under Creative Commons (CC BY 2.0) Keith 'Pheanix'.

03
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Begin Your Drawing

H South, photo by Keith 'Pheanix'

The chrysanthemum is a large and complicated bloom and it can be confusing to know where to begin. It helps if you start with a light sketch of the flower's overall shape. 

Create a Rough Outline

Looking at your subject, notice how the tightly closed petals form something of a ball shape, with a circle towards the center where the petals curl inwards. Then, try and gauge how broad the extended parts of the bloom are and sketch curves to indicate those. This will help you keep your flower in reasonable proportion. 

Remember that these are just guides. Keep your lines very light and don't feel as if you have to stick to them as you draw. Most flowers have a lot of natural variation. Unless you are doing a very precise botanical illustration, you can exercise some artistic license.

Begin With the Primary Petals

Everyone approaches their drawing in different ways. When it's a line drawing like this, you might find it best to begin with the petals that form complete shapes and are closest to the viewer. Other petals seem to sit in behind these.

Draw the petals that form continuously closed shapes first. Add the ones that join against or behind those next. Keep your lines relaxed and flowing.

04
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Drawing the Chrysanthemum

drawing flowers, outline drawing
H South, Photo (cc) Keith Pheanix

Once you have a few petals in place, keep adding to it one petal at a time. Notice how some come forward and join to the bottom of those you've already drawn. Others are drawn in behind adjacent petals.

Try not to worry too much about mistakes. You want to keep a line drawing clean and simple. If you try to redo a line, it just draws attention to the error. Flowers always have odd curls or uneven bits, so nobody will notice the difference as long as your lines are smooth.

Keep adding a petal at a time. Continue to look at the photo as well as the petals you've already drawn as a reference to position each one correctly.

You can see in your photo whether the one you're drawing extends further up the page or is shorter than the one beside it. Compare the width of the petals too. Pay attention to only the strongest lines to copy.

05
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The Finished Chrysanthemum Design

chrysanthemum, design drawing
H South, from a photo (cc) Keith 'Pheanix'.

With a little patience, it doesn't take too long to finish the flower. The example drawing is quite close to the photograph to make it easier for you to see how the two relate. However, you can certainly be more creative in your own drawing.

The chrysanthemum lends itself well to interesting lines. Try extending the longer petals with dramatic curves or creating a more minimal, simplistic interpretation. Have a look at how other artists have interpreted the chrysanthemum as well.

With a little inspiration and the tips you picked up in this lesson, you have a good start for your next chrysanthemum drawing.