How to Draw Flames
We all know what flames are and what fire looks like–lit matches, burning candles, campfires, wildfires, and even houses on fire. For your art, adding flames to the mix can mean anything from superpowers to sci-fi disasters to people gathering together for warmth and comfort. Here are the basics of how to draw flames, from the basic shapes and colors to halo effects and more!
- No matter the kind of flame you are drawing, you will almost always start with a teardrop or triangular shape that is fuller and wider at the base and tapers to a point at the top of the flame. Add dimension by overlapping these teardrop shapes so that your fire looks like it has depth and movement
- No flame stands still, so play around with curving lines for the body of your fire. I’ve heard these called s-shape, snake lines, seaweed, and curvilinear. Whatever works for you! Just keep your strokes fluid and your wrist loose. Make a few practice sketch lines before you attempt your final drawing.
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- For flames that are more cartoonish or like the kind you see on a hot rod car, you will want to outline your flames in black and then color them in. Color transition can be less subtle. For more realistic flames like you would see in the real world, you can forego the outline and use broken lines of color to create your flames. Colors can be more subtle.
- For a more dramatic flame, you can always add smoke to your fire. This can be a thin wisp of smoke that delicately wafts from the flame’s tip, or billowing smoke that swirls around your flames and almost obscures it. Colors of smoke can be anything from blackish-grey to grey to white.
***How to draw flames…FACT! During the Baroque era, tenebrism became a technique many artists used to heighten the drama of their paintings. Tenebrism is the style of painting in which you use a great deal of chiaroscuro, or contrast of dark and light, with darkness dominating against searing highlights. Through the murky darkness, you get a spotlight effect. Caravaggio is most closely associated with the technique, but other artists like El Greco, Albrecht Durer, Ribalta, Ribera, Tintoretto, and Artemisia Gentileschi used it as well. Many of the principles of how to draw flames depend on these same characteristics–a spotlight effect and dramatic contrast of dark to light.***
Color of Flames
Traditionally, the color of flames tends to be a combination of white, yellow, orange, and red. But that doesn’t mean you can’t explore other color combinations. Just remember, actual flames are lightest at their center or source and get darker on the tips and edges of the fire.
1. If you want more of an illustration or cartoon feel to your flames, make the color transitions starker with less blending. For more realism, concentrate on the subtle transitions of color in the flickering flames you want to draw.
2. The darker your background, the more dramatic your flames will appear. For the most dramatic flame drawings, use pastels on a black piece of paper. Your flame will almost seem to glow in the dark if you take your flames color and use them to shade outward from the flame, like a halo effect. Just be sure to use a light hand so that the “body” of the flame doesn’t disappear with a highlight that is too heavily drawn.
3. For more fantastical flames, use an alternative color palette from the typical yellow-orange-red. Instead, reach for blue, green, purple, or pink. You can also go totally noir when you decide how to draw flames by creating them in just black and white. If you do so, remember that the teardrop shape of the flame with the tapered tip and the halo of light surrounding the flame are going to be crucial to convey fire or flames.
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How to Draw Flames – A Gallery of Artist Daily Member Artworks
Below you’ll find several paintings created by our very own members. See how varied the use of flames or fire can be when you are creating art, and how each artist decided how to draw flames–and paint them–making their own sparks in a unique way. Enjoy!