Fire is one of those subjects that can seem really intimidating to draw because of its zealous yet elusive nature. Unlike other still life subjects, fire isn’t a tangible entity that can be held or touched, and it won’t remain still. A flame can take any shape or size, and has a lot of inherit dynamic movement.
Capturing the essence of a flame might seem more complicated than it truly is, but with these tips and techniques you will feel comfortable and ready to draw fire.
First, we will cover some general tips that can help you simplify the way you approach this subject regardless of what your personal artistic style is.
Then, we will cover specific steps you can follow to draw fire and flames in a style that is closest to your own preference. So, whether you’re an illustrator, cartoonist or realistic artist, this post will guide you into the direction you wish to go.
Lastly, we will cover some coloring tips to bring your fire drawings to life in all artistic styles.
Here are my top tips for how to draw fire, no matter your artistic style.
The best way to approach this topic is to try to simplify the way you see fire. Change your perception by looking at fire as flat image made up of shading, rather than a seeing it as a moving entity without any particular form or shape.
Use curvy shading to give the fire movement. Whether you are drawing it with graphite or colored pencils, the stroke of your pencil should be the same: upward to make it seem as if the fire is rising, and curvy lines at the tip of the flames for a dynamic feel.
How to draw fire in a cartoon style
There are two general ways you can draw fire — it all depends on your artistic style and preference. First, you can take the cartoon, illustrative route and draw a well-defined flame as you can see below.
This drawing is fairly simple: Draw a teardrop-shaped flame with little sparks over it. The sparks will give your drawing the feeling of motion.
The lightest part of the fire is always in the center, so leave this section plain. Shade or paint the outermost sections of the flame.
How to draw fire in a more realistic style
You can also take the realistic route, if that is your personal style. My best advice with regards to drawing realistic fire: Take a photograph of a flame and edit it to be black and white. Study the way the flames are formed without color.
For the first step, sketch a rough outline of how you want your flames to look. Then, begin shading some areas to give your sketch more dimension.
Fire emits light, which means that there are no shadows to give the fire any sort of form. This is what makes fire difficult to draw in graphite pencil. Instead of thinking of your shading as representing shadows, use the pencil shading to represent the illusion of “mass” and movement.
Try to emulate these shades with your pencil and you will achieve a realistic pencil drawing of any type of fire you desire.
As with anything in art, the keys here are observation and practice. Try drawing different types of flames and look at many different photographs of fires so that you can get a better understanding of how fire looks in a still image.
How to draw fire in colored pencil
If you prefer to draw fire in color to represent its vibrant red, orange and yellow hues, follow the steps below using colored pencils.
Begin by outlining the shape of the flames with an intermediate color, such as an orange.
Using the same color as in Step 1, begin to block in little bits of orange as you can see above.
Next, use a yellow colored pencil to paint the whole fire and blend it with the orange sections. Use an up-and-down scribbly motion to give the illusion of movement to the fire, as you can see below.
Now, with a red pencil, add curvy details to the tips of the flames.
You can see the final result below. Notice how the red tips of the flames make the fire look more dynamic, as if it was in motion. You can also add small red dots above the flames to accentuate this effect.
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