If you are looking for a way to add some spice to your ink drawings, Ian de Jesus will show you how! He'll teach how to include metallic accents in a drawing and gives several tips on various illustration techniques.

This FREE demo is pretty straightforward, too, so it's suitable for all artists of different skill levels and ages!

Step 1: Prep and Sketch

The first thing to do is to gather the tools you'll need. I'll be using an A5 cold press watercolour sketchbook or paper, a number 10 and 03 graphic pens (waterproof), a 3B pencil, a kneaded eraser, a Q-tip or tortillon (optional), a mechanical pencil with red or blue coloured lead, and gold watercolour paint.

Tip: You can use any watercolour paper as long as it can take watercolour paint! The graphic pens can also be different thicknesses, such as 05 and 01. Just make sure they’re noticeably different!

Even your gold paint can be acrylic, gouache, marker, or otherwise, as long as it gives you the shine you want.

Before you start, you can draw some quick loops on scrap paper using all your pens and pencils. This process ensures that your pens are working perfectly, plus it’s a good warm-up exercise for your drawing hand.

When you’re ready, draw two concentric circles with your mechanical pencil. They should fill two-thirds of the paper and will form the basic shape of your sunflower. That’s all you need to give you a general guideline to draw!

But if you aren’t too confident in your freehand skills, you can do a more detailed sketch, following this photo for inspiration if you need.

Step 2: The Scumbling Technique

It's already time to ink! So using your number 10 pen, draw the sunflower's centre, using a jagged line for both the outer and inner circles. 

Then, Ian introduces the "scumbling technique" similar to random scribbling. It's a technique that gives the illusion of detail and helps add visual texture to what you're painting or drawing.

With this in mind, "scumble" over the inner circle, filling it until it's pretty dark but still has some small white gaps all over. Do the same for the outer circle, but use the number 03 pen to get a lighter shade. 

To add more depth, scumble a little more on the outer edges of both circles. This technique will help make the lighter circle stand out more, while the darker centre feels like it’s sinking into the paper.

Step 3: The “Half-and-Half” Technique

While some artists can freely draw flower petals without a guide, Ian introduces something he likes to call the “half-and-half” technique.

This technique is for certain flowers like sunflowers, where you can have a balanced number of petals and break down the drawing, making it easier to plan out where each petal goes without having to do a pencil sketch. 

To do this, go back to the thicker pen, and draw one petal on the top and one on the bottom. Doing this will divide the flower in half. Next, divide the flower in half again, only in the other direction (left and right).

Keep adding petals this way, where you keep adding a petal at the halfway mark between petals until petals encircle the centre.

Tip: The petals’ shape should be pretty organic, so make sure that they vary slightly in size and curve direction. Doing this will help make your sunflower look more natural.

To finish the flower, add a second layer of petals behind the one in front. It can be as simple as adding the tip of a petal peeking out from between two petals, or you can make them overlap more.

Again, try your best to make the petals slightly uneven so they look natural. Wait a few moments before erasing the previous pencil sketch when you've finished.

Tip: If you’re not sure where or whether to add a petal or not, turn your drawing upside-down. Doing this gives you a unique view of your drawing and makes it easier to see where you might need to adjust the balance of your drawing.

Step 4: Contour Lines 

Switch back to your number 03 pen, and add some contour lines to the petals. These lines follow the curvature of each petal and add visual texture and depth to your drawing.

Make sure your contour lines are not too even and that you add them to all the petals, including the ones at the back. 

Step 5: Leaves

For the leaves, an easy way is to draw in some guidelines first with your mechanical pencil. You can draw two triangles with a line down the middle, then take your number 10 pen and add a rough outline that tapers towards the tip of each leaf. 

Ink in the middle line, then the leaves veins. Then, do the same contouring as before with the 03 pens, following the shape of each section of the leaves.

Step 6: Adding Depth in Graphite

To enhance the depth, take the 3B (or any pencil with softer lead), and start “flicking” some lines that extend from the sunflower’s centre to about a fifth of the way up each petal. Flick some lines starting from the tip of the petal, though reserve this for a few of the more curled petals.

Add more shading to the petals underneath to indicate that they’re behind the ones on top. Then, flick more lines on the leaves, concentrating most of them in the area that’s connected to the flower. You can also add shading to parts of each leaf section, starting from the middle line and flicking to the outer edge.

Step 7: Go for the Gold

Finally, it’s time to paint in the gold accents! While you can use a gold marker, coloured pencil, or even gold foil, Ian recommends painting them in, as he finds it easier to get the right shapes with a paintbrush.

Since gold watercolour is more difficult to reactivate, Ian has a pot of pre-diluted gold watercolour paint in liquid form in the right consistency to paint thickly. I recommend doing the same! If you only have the pan form, you’ll need to spray it with clean water a few minutes before using it.

Also, a size 1 or 2 synthetic round brush would be best, as the metallic paint may ruin a natural hair paintbrush.

In terms of what to paint, Ian goes for a chrysanthemum flower pattern reminiscent of Japanese patterning. So starting in the gaps between the flower petals, paint some almond shapes that fan outwards, adding a second or even third layer that goes in between each shape. 

Turn your drawing upside-down and repeat the same for the other side as well, to make it easier to paint the leafy-almond shapes. Keep checking to see if the accents harmonise with one another, and again, don’t feel pressured to make everything look symmetrical – nature is rarely symmetrical!

Bonus tip: If you find that your gold paint isn’t strong enough to cover the black lines, try using thicker paint, or you may need to switch to a different type of paint or marker.

Add final gold touches to the sunflower and a few dabs here on the leaves. When you’ve completed your piece, feel free to sign your illustration! 

The gold helps make the flower “pop” in this drawing without overwhelming it. The key is not to add too much and to have it look like one complete illustration rather than a drawing that happens to have some gold bits in it.

Regardless, I hope you had a good time and learned some practical tips and tricks that you can apply to your future drawings and paintings. And if you want more, you can always watch Ian’s 90-minute art class!

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Nicola Tsoi is a practicing graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. She likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm during her downtime. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 

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