How To Draw A Peony: Step-By-Step Modern Floral Illustration with Meghan Davey of Hey Sailor



You probably already know Meghan Davey’s floral work for its beautiful, super intricate details. But if that name doesn’t ring a bell, her Instagram account @heysailor_ will.


I have been begging her to teach me her floral method for FOREVEEER! So I was so so so happy when she FINALLY agreed to teach not only me, but all of you!


In this video, Meghan walks us step-by-step through her entiiire process for learning how to draw a peony!


From choosing inspiration photos, to sketching the basic shapes, to adding details, shading, and contrast to make your work really POP, she covers ALL the bases.



The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

  • A reference photo: Meghan ALWAYS uses a few photo references for drawing florals and her go-to spot is Google!
  • Marker paper: Bright white, thin and sort of transparent which will come in handy!
  • Pencil
  • Micron pens (size 0.05, 0.1, 0.3)

TIP: There are hundreds of thousands of peony types and peony images on Google. If you’re a beginner and want to start off with something more simple, try the tree peony. It has less petals and details, so it’s a great place to start.


STEP TWO: Sketch basic shapes

Meghan breaks the flower down in shapes. Starting with large shapes, and then breaking it down into smaller shapes.

TIP: This doesn’t have to be perfect! This step is just for the layout!


STEP THREE: Start refining the sketch

Add more detail. Curves, jagged edges, angles, tweaks, curls, “bean shapes” and any additional petals.


STEP FOUR: Add stem and leaves

Follow the curve of the flower when drawing the stem, and leaves at opposing angles. This helps with balance and composition.


STEP FIVE: Trace your flower with your pen

You can either use a light box to trace your flower on a new piece of paper, or use pen and an eraser to remove pencil lines. This is totally based on preference and how rough your original sketch might be.

You do NOT have to perfectly follow the petals and leaves. Adding a few waves, overlaps and “imperfections” will add to your flower.


STEP SIX: Add leaf details with pen

Extend your stem right through the middle and then to the tip of the leaf, and then add the smooth long curve to the leaf, leaving a small line near the tip.


STEP SEVEN: Erase pencil marks

This is Meghan’s favourite part! But the most fun part is…


STEP EIGHT: Add detailing and shading

Using the thinnest pen (005), draw little loopy hoopy lines in the centre of the flower. Next add line detailing starting in the middle and working out.

You want your lines to be all different sizes and go up and out, to about 3/4 up the petal. At the top of the petals, you can do downstrokes lines at any dip.

Keep in mind that lines also follow the curve of the petal.

On the leaves, add a fine line parallel to the middle line, creating a spine. Then, add veins from the middle outwards and up. Leaves are usually darker than the petals, so add more details and shading to the leaves.

Finally, add little lines on the stem of the flower.


STEP NINE: Add more shading to create shadows

With your midsized pen, add shading. Don’t forget to do it in the centre loopy hoopy parts. You can go over all of the petal shapes, and add smaller lines in the shaded areas. This will add SO much depth!

TIP: Really white whites and really black blacks will make your drawing look more realistic. Contrast is important!


Meghan makes it look SO EASY! It literally blows my mind that she was able to draw this peony THIS well in such a small amount of time.


BUT if you follow her 9 steps, you’ll be a pro, like Meghan, in no time!


And if this get’s you inspired to draw more florals, be sure to check out Florals Your Way!

Florals Your Way collaboration project between Meghan, Nat of @sketchyminx and Krysten of @thesingingfinch. The month long challenge provides participants with a new floral prompts every day, for them to then letter, draw, paint or create.


Thanks so much for taking the time to teach us Meghan! I am sure Instagram will be filled with so many more beautiful blooms thanks to you!

Tell me what you thought!