While other flying insects are considered pests, the dragonfly stands out as one of nature’s most beautiful creatures. With its iridescent wings that come in so many brilliant colors, the dragonfly is almost magical in the way it flies, flitting up and down or hovering in midair. It’s no wonder artists are drawn to the dragonfly as a subject for drawings, engravings, and paintings.
Dragonflies have been around for 300 million years and are considered to be among the first insects to have wings. The painter and printmaker, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), used these delicate insects in his work, but they became especially popular during the art nouveau period. This period was between 1890 and 1910 and dragonflies were used quite a bit in jewelry and furniture making. During that period, dragonflies came to symbolize nature and metamorphosis, two popular themes of the art nouveau movement.
In this article, we’ll show you how to draw a dragonfly in just six steps. We used Arteza’s Professional Watercolor Pencils - Set of 120 to make sure we could capture all the color variations dragonflies have. With this set, you’ll get what you need to practice all the techniques included in this mini-tutorial. We also used the Mixed Media Pad, 5.5" x 8.5", 60 Sheets, because it is strong enough to withstand getting wet without buckling or warping. Along with a 2 HB pencil, a small, soft paintbrush and some water, these are all the supplies you need to get started.
6 Steps to Dragonfly Drawing
Using the 2 HB pencil, make a light sketch of the main parts of the dragonfly using general shapes. There’s no need to add details yet.
Fun Fact: The dragonfly’s eyes cover most of its head, so it can see almost completely around itself with the exception of directly behind.
When learning how to draw wings and the body, it’s best to use general shapes first and then refine those shapes by using additional lines to indicate the details on the wings and body.
Darken the correct lines and erase the lighter preliminary ones.
Fun Fact: The dragonflies we see have wingspans of between two and five inches, but paleontologists have discovered fossils of dragonflies that had wingspans of over two feet.
Starting with blue, outline the dragonfly’s body and add shading to the upper portion of the wings. Next, add some purple to the head and legs. Add a soft yellow to the lower part of the wings and lightly blend it into the blue.
Dip your paintbrush into the water and lightly go over the colored pencil on the wings. This will turn the pencil to paint—just like magic! Color the top wing with light blue and then using the wet brush again, go over the color until it looks almost transparent.
Use the tip of your brush to add a small amount of water to the sections on the body. This will darken them. Next, wet the yellow pencil on the main part of the body to darken it as well as on the two outermost legs.
Let the drawing dry completely before going to the next step.
Once the drawing is completely dry, you can go back in with a very sharp blue pencil and add the veining in the wings and add definition to the body segments, the head and the legs.
Congratulations! You’ve just drawn a dragonfly.
There are around 7,000 species of dragonflies in the world, so once you know the basics of drawing one, you’ll have lots more that can inspire future drawings. Because they’ve been around for millions of years they have evolved into some of the most colorful creatures in the insect class. This makes drawing dragonflies and painting them both interesting and fun. To find references that can assist your drawing practice, you can use images from the internet and in books. Or, you can visit a garden, pond or lake, and paint them on location or photograph them for painting at a later date. Regardless of where you get your inspiration, we know you’re going to love capturing these fantastic insects using watercolor pencils. We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments in the section below.
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