How to Draw Flower Blossoms

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Pea blossom.

We want to know how to draw flower blossoms, but botanists have a dizzying number of ways to categorize flowers, I have discovered in researching this page.  But we are artists, not scientists, and we don’t need all that.  So I bravely waded into the terminology up to my neck to determine the strict minimum for our needs. 

What I have understood is that overall, the typical flower has four sections, or “whorls”:  the sepals, the petals, the stamens and the pistil, with one or more carpels.  All the confusion comes from trying to make a complete inventory of all the variations on the theme of this typical four-whorl flower.

For us, seeking to know how to draw flower blossoms, we are actually interested mostly in the showy part of the flower, the petal arrangement, called the corolla.  In this regard, I suggest we take a look at just whether flowers are “regular” or “irregular”.  To determine which is which, you have to take a bird’s eye view of the flower.

Regular Flowers

Regular flowers are those that when you look down on them from above you see similarly-shaped petals, all about the same distance from each other, radiating out from the center - like with this daisy. If you draw a line down the middle you get two mirror images, and that will be the same no matter how you divide the flower down the middle. 

You can have either an even or uneven number of petals, which is why I am carefully avoiding the term “symmetry”.  So this group would include roses, daisies, tulips, bluets and so on. 

Irregular Flowers

These are the ones that when you take a bird’s eye view and try to draw an imaginary line down the middle, there is either only one way you can divide the flower down the middle to get your two mirror images, like with this pea flower.  

In a few cases there is no way you can divide the flower down the middle to get them.  Other irregular flowers include lady’s slippers, snapdragons and mint flowers.

Corolla (Blossom) Shapes

To make sense of what I say below, I should clarify that petals can be either independent of each other (daisies) or fused together (bindweed) to form the corolla.  This can be important information to know how to draw flower blossoms without a model.

When it is partially fused (as is the case with morning glories), the part that is not fused is called the “limb”.  The part that is fused is called the “tube”; and where the tube opens up into the limb is called the “throat”.

Regular Corolla Shapes

Rotate:  short tube, large limb, shaped like a wheel

Example:  bluets

Take a good look at the blossom on the lower left

Campanulate: extended tube that flares out like a bell

Example:  bellflowers

Funnelform:  funnel-like, with tube continually widening with a slight flare

Example:  bindweed

Tubular: long tube and very little limb

Example:  trumpet vine

Salverform: long tube and fair bit of limb, forming a trumpet

Example:  morning glory

Urceolate: a puffed-up tube constricted at the end, like a tiny urn

Example:  blueberry flowers

Irregular Carolla Shapes

Bilabiate: a two-lobed or -lipped shape with a landing platform for bees

Example:  snapdragons

Ligulate:  a narrow tube opening up into a long flat limb

Example:  believe it or not, dandelions!

Galeate: helmut-shaped (pedicularis)

Example:  pedicularis

Spurred: like the name, with a spur

Example:  touch-me-not

Papilionaceous:  like a butterfly – a central petal and a lateral wing petal

Example:  lupine

Go from "How to Draw Flower Blossoms" to "Drawing Flowers Geometrically"

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