Watercolor Spring Flower Tutorial: Snow Drop

Watercolor Spring Flower Tutorial: Snow Drop

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Snowdrop is the first flower to burst through the snow to announce that spring is on the way. If you are looking for a watercolor spring flower project, this is an easy one. The shape is simple to draw, and the only colors to contend with are green, white, and shadows. A contrasting background will bring this innocent, white beauty to life. 

You can also watch me draw a simple snowdrop design in a video. It is at the end of this tutorial.

Snowdrop symbolism

Snowdrop is a symbol of overcoming obstacles, as well as rebirth, hope, and purity. These are the self-evident meanings peoples of many cultures have ascribed to snowdrops. Pushing its way through snow is not every flower’s kind of deal, that’s for sure.

There are many lovely vintage illustrations with snowdrops. These four are some examples. The top left is by Elsa Bescow, a Swedish illustrator who loomed large in my childhood. 

Vintage illustrations with snowdrop.
Vintage illustrations with snowdrop motif

Let’s start our watercolor project.

Step 1: Drawing a snowdrop flower

Looking at the reference photo, I created a loose sketch first. I then traced a clean outline and transferred it to watercolor paper. You can download my drawing for free in the One Tree Art Club Library. (Members: check your newsletter for access info). 

Snowdrop refrence photo.
Photo: Creative Commons
Tracing my rough sketch of the snowdrop with a clean outline.
Tracing my rough sketch
Transferring the outline to watercolor paper.
Transferring to watercolor paper

Step 2: Painting the blue watercolor background

Although the photo has a black backdrop, I decided against replicating it. Black certainly looks elegant and intriguing, but I wanted my flower to be more cheerful. I chose a blue sky, one of my go-to background colors. I simply love the fresh, blue color. 

You need to keep the blue watercolor away from the flower. How to achieve this? By painting the surrounding area with plain water first. Be meticulous not to stray into the flower outline. While the paper is still wet, apply the blue color. If you have tiny spills, use rolled up, pointed tissue paper to soak up while it is still wet. 

Painting the background with water first.

Move your brush with small, circular motions. It creates a kind of textured look. You are moving pigments around by doing that. 

You can mix in some turquoise to create variations in the blue. Even a tiny dash of pink. Wait for the background to dry before you venture into the next step. 

Painting the background with blue watercolor.

Step 3: Painting the watercolor grey and green base for the flower

Logic tells us to paint some gentle grey brushstrokes for the flowerhead. This way, the paper makes up the white color. But it’s not how we are going to proceed. Instead, paint the flower head grey. Exclude the green, upside-down “V”. 

Painting the flowerhead light grey first.

Next, paint the green parts.

Painting the green parts of the flower.

Step 4: Using white gouache to paint the white watercolor spring flower

First, paint a thin layer of white gouache on the left petal. (Note: I earn a small commission if you buy through the link). The grey color must be completely dry to avoid making a mess. 

Adding the first layer fo white gouache on the petal.

Let the first layer of white dry. With plenty of white gouache on your brush, paint again. While the paint is still wet, use pointed tissue paper to draw stripes. You can wet the tissue paper point a little bit. 

Drawing stripes by soaking up pigment with pointed tissue paper.

When dry, use a pointed brush to paint solid white stripes. You now have both shadows and highlighted stripes. 

Painting solid stripes with white gouache.

Follow the same procedure for the middle and right petal. 

Doing the same procedure with layesrs of white gouache on the other two petals.

Step 5: Draw details with colored pencils

With a sepia-colored pencil, outline the flower, stem, and leaves. Pick your light and dark green colored pencils and draw on top of the dry, green watercolor. Use a white colored pencil for highlights. 

Drawing details with colored pencils.
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Step 6: Paint light and draw the shadows

Look at the photo to gauge where to paint white light and where to draw shadows. I decided against the shadow at the top of the left leaf. The reason is that I love how the white color contrasts the blue background. A shadow would dampen this effect. I know because I tested it. A great thing about using colored pencils for details is that you can change your mind. Just use the eraser. 

Painting light, drawing shadows.

And that, my friend, is the completion of the watercolor spring flower. An unassuming, little snowdrop is blooming on my paper. Let it bloom on yours too.

The finished watercolor spring flower snowdrop.

If you wonder what art materials you need for this tutorial, my Guide to Art Supplies should be helpful.

Video of drawing a simple snowdrop flower.

In the video below, you can watch me draw a simple snowdrop flower.

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