How to Draw a Carnation: A Beginner’s Guide

A carnation is a great flower to learn how to draw! It has a simple shape and it’s easy to replicate. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of drawing a carnation and answer some FAQs about the process.

We provide pictures and detailed explanations of the process. Let’s get started!

Carnation As a Symbol

Carnation is very symbolic in several cultures such as Hinduism and Buddhism where it represents love and affection while Christianity uses its symbolism of sacrifice (Jesus’ blood) among other things like ‘courage’. For this article, we will focus mostly on drawing a realistic-looking carnation that looks like an actual flower rather than cartoonlike characters from popular culture (e.g The Little Prince).

Why Draw a Carnation?

People draw carnations for many reasons. You can use it as decoration, to brighten up your day and spread some happiness around you! Maybe you need to do a school project on flowers or gardening.

Drawing a flower is easy but there are so many options out there! The great thing about how to draw a red carnation is that it’s simple and has easy-to-follow steps.

You can also check out our tutorial on How to Draw Tears if you’re interested!

Study up Before You Draw

Use reference photos, online tutorials, and books for beginners. This will help you immensely when it comes to drawing one on your own!

To get started, try drawing petals first since they’re the easiest thing to draw in our opinion. Try using one color and see where your sketch goes from there! If you mess up, don’t worry about erasing everything so just start over again with a new sheet of paper. It happens sometimes even when experienced artists make mistakes too.

Carnation Petals

Petals are the most basic part of a flower. These should be generally symmetrical and evenly distributed around the center (refer to your reference photo).

Stamens and Pistils

Their main purpose is to create seeds and pollen which help reproduce new flowers. You may want to use an eraser to add some shading and make them stand out. There are many stamens in a flower, but only one pistil.


Sepals are the outermost petal-like parts of a bud. They protect it from harm and help keep insects away! Sepal is usually green but sometimes they’re red, purple, or brown depending on their pigment content. Use your reference photo to pinpoint where this part should go.


Stems are the main structure of a flower. They’re mostly smooth with some bumps and ridges here and there, depending on how old they are.


Leaves can be anywhere from one to five or more! You don’t have to draw every single leaf around it so feel free to skip this part unless you want an extremely detailed carnation in your drawing.

Drawing Supplies Needed

The supplies you’ll need are not that complicated. You can use any art medium or tool if it works for you!

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Pencils (HB, B). Pencils are the best tools for beginning artists. You can use an eraser if you make a mistake and it won’t mess up your paper!
  • Eraser
  • Paper (Sketchpad). We recommend sketchpads for beginners to practice and draw on. They’re usually smaller than normal paper so they can be more portable and easier to handle!
  • Colored pencils/markers. Markers are great too but we find it a bit harder to control the color because of its opacity. You may want to use pencils first if you don’t have much experience with markers yet.
  • Ruler (optional)
  • Pencil sharpener (optional)
Smaller-sized tools like colored pencils or small erasers will make your work more manageable when drawing closer details.

Using large supplies would just get in the way of what you need to see clearly while working on this project which is why we suggest using different sizes depending on how detailed your carnation should look at the end.

Now that we’ve gone over everything needed for our tutorial, let’s get started! We hope this will help everyone who struggles with this part.

How to Draw a Scarlet Carnation: the Stages (Option 1)

We’re going to divide this process into four stages: overall shape, shading, adding more details, and color application! This may seem like too much but do not worry as we will be breaking down each step so you’ll know exactly what to draw next at all times.

Stage One – Overall Shape

First things first; decide how big your drawing needs to be before working on any major details or coloring.

Start by sketching the shape of your carnation. Keep it light as we’ll need to erase some parts later!

Add more details such as shading using cross-hatching since carnations are three-dimensional objects with shadows created by their petals overlapping each other at certain angles!

Stage Two – Shading and Details

Let’s get started! We can draw some basic shading on our carnation. You’ll want to use a pencil for this stage since it will be easier to clean up with an eraser afterward.

Use gentle strokes consistently in one direction instead of pressing too hard which could create undesirable effects such as smudges and uneven edges.

We recommend using a soft vine charcoal or kneaded eraser for this step but any type of pencil would do provided they are sharp enough!

Stage Three – More Details and Cleaning Up

We’re almost there! Now all you have to do is add more details. Use a marker to do this step since it will give you more control over the lines.

Now clean up your drawing by erasing any unwanted sketch marks or smudges on our carnation’s petals! Make sure everything looks good before moving forward.

Stage Four – Color Application

For this stage, we are going to use colored pencils. However, feel free to experiment with other materials such as markers, crayons, and even paints! Before applying color, make sure your flower still has its initial outlines so they aren’t erased in the process of coloring later on.

How to Draw a Carnation Step By Step (Option 2)

There are many ways you can draw a carnation, but we’ll focus on the most common and simple one here. We will be using mostly basic shapes which will make up the flower part of this beautiful plant! Let’s get started with an easy step-by-step tutorial that anyone can follow along easily without missing any steps (and hopefully not making too many mistakes!). Here we go!

Step One – Draw an Ellipse Shape

First thing first, start off your drawing by sketching out an ellipse shape (oval) using a pencil. We recommend that you use a light hand to sketch out this shape as it will be erased anyway! Draw another squashed circle below. The shape doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just a guide.

Step Two – Draw Shapes for a Sepal

Draw an upside-down ‘U’ shape underneath the previous shape. Add a stick coming out of the bottom. Only use hard pencils when doing steps one and two since these are just guides that will be mostly erased anyway!

Step Three – Draw the Middle of Your Carnation

Use a pen to draw lots of tiny ‘M’-shaped squiggles at the top of the upper oval. Try not to make these too thick because they’ll look less realistic if you do that!

Step Four – Draw Small Petals

Start adding bigger and more curved ‘M’ shapes around the tiny ones. Feel free to add as many shapes as you want or need until you’re satisfied with how this flower is looking so far. There are no real rules here but if you would like some inspiration then please refer to our picture below (or use a reference image of your own).

Step Five – Draw Large Petals

Now let’s draw some more petals using an ellipse underneath them as a guide. Add three long petals at the bottom and surround everything with five to seven large ones. Feel free to add more if you think it looks better.

Step Six – Outline the Sepal and the Stem

Continue drawing your carnation by outlining the sepal and the stem. Add leaves if you want to.

Step Seven – Draw Details

Now that you have all your petal layers done, it’s time to focus on drawing more intricate details in between them. We will be adding some little lines and details to the petals to give them that distinctive crinkly carnation look. These can also vary depending on how many layers of petals there are so feel free to experiment!

This step will add that extra bit of detail to make your carnation look more realistic and less flat or two-dimensional.

Step Eight – Erase Your Guidelines

Using your eraser, go over your ellipse outlines so there are no pencil marks left at all (unless you want some for shading or highlighting later on!).

Step Nine – Color Your Carnation

Now that you’ve finished drawing this flower, it’s time to color everything in! You can use regular markers for this or colored pencils if you prefer but make sure they’re not too hard because these petals are already pretty small and detailed so anything harder might be way more difficult to control.

Just draw over the lines you’ve already made to color them in once again and go over everything a few times until they look nice and smooth. If there are any small gaps left after that then use your white colored pencil for these final touches!

There you have it, a completed carnation flower drawing from start to finish using the steps above as your guide. It may take some time so be prepared for that but once done, you’ll be able to show it off to all of your friends!

Tips and Tricks about How to Draw a Carnation Flower

  • The more layers you have the better! Add as many thin petals as your shape will allow.
  • When shading flower petals keep it nice and light.
  • Keep practicing drawing different styles of flowers until you feel confident enough to move on to more complex ones like roses for example.
  • There are many different shapes and types of carnations to choose from. Check your reference photos for inspiration on which type you want to illustrate.
  • As with any flower, it is always best to start out by drawing the center first. This will help establish how large or small everything else should be relative to that center point.
  • Draw in light guidelines so they don’t show up when you color your image later. Use a ruler if necessary but make sure not to press too hard! You’ll need these lines there after all.
  • If you are still struggling to draw the petals as circular shapes, for now, it might help to trace a real carnation if possible.
  • Draw guidelines around where your petals will meet at the center of the flower only on one side. This is so that there aren’t too many lines and it makes it easier to color in with markers or colored pencils later on!
  • Render some shading onto each layer of your drawing, making sure not to go overboard because you’ll be adding even more layers once you start coloring your artwork!

People Also Ask

What If My Drawing Doesn't Come out Right?

Don't worry about getting everything perfect from the start since there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to art! If things don't turn out well, simply try again or use tracing paper/graphite paper in order for your outlines not to get messed up. Sometimes lines need more pressure when drawing with a pencil so try using different lead types.

What Pencils Should I Use?

You can use whatever you have at hand, but if you want to invest in something new go ahead and pick up some graphite pencils or colored pencils! Don't be afraid to experiment by mixing up your lines, thicknesses, and pressure until it looks right! Sometimes our drawings end up looking like abstract art simply because we don't know how else to draw certain objects.

Final Words

Thanks for reading this tutorial! We hope you enjoyed learning how to draw a carnation and don’t forget to practice as much as possible until you feel confident enough to try your hand at more complex flowers like roses or sunflowers next time. Happy drawing!

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