★ How to Draw a Water Drop | Drawing Tutorial & Video Demos ★
Lessons For Creating Realistic Water Droplet Art
Anyone who draws or paints will know that mastering the art of creating realistic water images is very difficult and requires different skills and techniques compared to drawing other objects and textures. Because water is transparent, it takes on whatever color is behind it, so when drawing a water drop, all you can add is light and shadow.
This page will hopefully help you to learn how to go about drawing a single water droplet in pencil, although when you have the basic knowledge you can then try drawing a droplet in any media you wish. I have included a few photos of water drops on this page which you can use as your subject, or you can draw a still life of water on a surface such as a car windshield, a water bottle, a sink, a flower, a leaf or a window.
I hope you find this page useful :)
I should make it clear that I'm not an artist so if I can draw a half decent water drop then you can!
The equipment I used was as follows:
- Any old pencil!; I just used one of those retractable pencils, and I don't even know the grade of it. Any kind of pencil would be fine, but if you have a pencil specifically made for sketching, use that.
- A bit of kitchen roll; I scrunched this into a point to smudge the pencil when needed but it wasn't very efficient...I just didn't have anything else at the time! A tortillon, which is a pointed paper tool used by artists for smudging charcoal/pencil/pastels, would be a wise purchase - or you could make your own.
- A retractable eraser pen; this was useful for me but was quite clumsy and difficult to be accurate with due to the thickness of the eraser (even though I did try to create a point at the end). I would personally suggest you get yourself a cheap kneaded eraser so you can be much more accurate.
- White colored pencil
- Paper: I just used a regular white paper in a sketchbook.
You may also see a charcoal pencil and a white gel pen in the photo. I ended up not using these, but a darker black and brighter white can be achieved with these items if you wish.
The Anatomy of a Water Droplet
This is a basic outline of a water drop and it gives you an idea of the parts of a drop in terms of light and shadow; in the picture, light is coming into the drop in the direction of the arrow, which creates a bright white dot (reflection) where the light hits. Around this dot is a dark area (not shown here).
On the opposite side of the drop is a reflection arc, and then there is a flow of light leaving the drop onto the surface below. Although not shown, there is a shadow around the edge of the water drop on the opposite side to where the light enters the water.
My Favorite Video Lesson
This is the video I used to learn how to draw a water drop - and I love the angel painting example at the end too so watch out for that :)
Step 1 - The Outline
The first step is to lightly draw the outline of the water drop. It should be a bit bottom-heavy, and should not be perfectly circular.
Step 2 - Start Shading
Identify where the light is hitting the water (in this case from the top-left) and mark out a small area which will be the reflection. Shade around this area and around the whole of the top-left area. Then add a shadow to the right-hand-side.
Step 3 - Further Shading
Intensify the shaded area as shown above, plus add shaded lines leading from the water drop in the same direction as the light will be travelling through the water.
Step 4 - Blending
Use your smudging/blending instrument to blend your pencil shading lines together to produce a softer look. Concentrate in the darker areas and try to avoid the reflections and avoid going outside the lines.
Step 5 - Shadow
Strengthen and darken the shadow on the right and bottom-right of the drop, as the smudging will have softened it.
Step 6 - White Pencil
At this point I used a white pencil on the reflections, but in hindsight I shouldn't have. If you are using a pure white piece of paper like me there is not point adding white pencil because you won't get brighter white than the background you already have. The best thing you can do is simply use an eraser on the reflection areas to let the white paper background show through. So I would say just ignore this step!
If you want to use a white colored pencil, I would recommend using a non-white piece of drawing paper for more of a contrast and a more stand-out effect. The best choice would be to use a light gray or beige paper I think. When using a non-white piece of paper, a white colored pencil is required for the reflections and should be added as the last step.
Step 7 - Finish the Shading
Darken the top-left area and the right-hand-side shadow again, plus put the finishing touches to the rest of the shading and blend your shading once more. Use your eraser to remove any pencil in the reflection areas and anywhere you want to be blank and white.
My Eraser Pen
This is the retractable eraser pen I used for this exercise, and although it was useful it didn't allow for much accuracy. It is good for erasing smudges in larger areas though. Just make sure whatever eraser you choose to use is clean before you use it each time - if it's not, rub it on clean paper to get rid of the pencil graphite on the surface.
Step 8 - Extend Upwards
Extend the drawing to include a thin stream at the top, like you find when a water drop runs down a vertical surface. This stream will be shallow so not much shading is required, as seen above. Do light shading which fades towards the top, and then blend.
Make any final touches you want to the whole image.
You will now have a finished drawing, yay!
You can work on the drawing for as long as you want but in total it will probably take you 15-30 minutes. Just bear in mind that it is possible to overwork it so if you're not sure what else can be done, leave it to one side and come back to it later. With a fresh look you will be able to see the bigger picture and assess whether it does in fact look like a water drop, and it will be easier to see what needs to be worked on.
Good luck and have fun!
Rain on a Window
Lots of drops to have a go at drawing here!
Photo by Natesh Ramasamy.
More Video Tutorials For Drawing Water - Includes Charcoal, Colored Pencil & Painting Lessons
Handy Drawing Materials
As noted above, I use retractable eraser pens for general use as well as for this particular water drop drawing. I have therefore listed a 5-star rated pack of these, plus a kneadable eraser (which I would suggest is the best choice for art-specific use), a sandpaper pencil pointer, tortillions which are perfectly designed for blending pencil lines, and white colored pencils for creating bright reflections. All of which would be very useful for creating water drop sketches.
Water Droplet Tutorials & Tips - Instructions for Painting or Drawing Water
- Light and Shadow
Learn to really look at water droplets. I like the foam plate tip too.
- Simple Guide
Quick step-by-step for pencil drawn drops.
- 6-Step Explanation
A diagram showing how black and white pastels can be used.
- Colored Pencils on Black Paper
Try this technique for a darker style.
- Watercolor Drops
Tips for painting water with watercolor paints.
- How To Paint a Watercolor Droplet
Making use of masking fluid for the reflections.
- Anatomy of a Waterdrop
With a very helpful accompanying video.
- Oil Painting Drips & Drops #1
Four steps for painting drips on vertical surfaces.
- Oil Painting Drips & Drops #2
Steps showing how to paint drips on horizontal surfaces.
Water Drops on Leaves
Fantastically Realistic Water Art - Examples for Inspiration
- Gregory Thielker
I love these photorealistic windscreen paintings.
- Oil Paintings by Alyssa Monks
I love the misted glass painting - so clever!
- Charcoal Water Drawings
Amazing series of four artworks.
- Hyperrealistic Paintings by Linnea Strid
An incredible and vivid style of painting in oils.
- Elizabeth Patterson
Believable paintings of rain-streaked car windshields.