Looking to learn how to draw a broccoli?
This easy Procreate tutorial is here to help! Read along for a simple yet comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to draw realistic broccoli digitally using iPad Pro.
Digital drawing continues to thrive as an exciting medium in the world of art. Many famous illustrators have created truly remarkable work using Procreate on iPad Pro, and now it’s your turn to try out the amazing tools this artistic medium has to offer.
This realistic broccoli drawing Procreate tutorial will break down the process of illustrating on a tablet and set you up with the basics of this amazing app. We’ll use how to draw a broccoli as our example!
How to Draw A Broccoli: Drawing on iPad
I’m a Toronto illustrator and graphic designer who specializes in book illustration, portraiture, editorial illustration and exhibition design. Over the last few years the digital medium has become an important drawing tool for me and a integral part of my illustration process overall.
If you are new to digital drawing I am sure you’ll be amazed, both by how easy it is to pick it up, and by the new range of drawing potential it provides. Creating illustrations of everyday things around your home, like a broccoli, with an Apple Pencil on iPad Pro, allows for new and advantageous ways of creating layers, texture, and dimension, and is also really quite fun.
Sketch A Broccoli Drawing In The Kitchen
One of the best ways to become an expert on how to draw a broccoli is by visiting your local grocery store. At my favourite specialty produce market in Toronto they sell a variety of broccoli cultivars such as Belstar, Calabrese, DiCicco, Green Magic, Purple Sprouting and Romanesco.
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family whose large flowering head, stalk and small leaves are eaten as a vegetable.
Broccoli has large flower heads, usually dark green, arranged in a tree-like structure branching out from a thick stalk which is usually light green. The mass of flower heads is surrounded by leaves. Broccoli resembles cauliflower.
Broccoli resulted from breeding of Brassica crops in the northern Mediterranean starting in about the 6th century BCE. Broccoli has its origins in primitive cultivars grown in the Roman Empire and was most likely improved via artificial selection in the southern Italian Peninsula or in Sicily.
Broccoli spread to northern Europe by the 18th century and was brought to North America in the 19th century by Italian immigrants. After the Second World War, breeding of United States and Japanese hybrids increased yields, quality, growth speed, and regional adaptation.
We suggest purchasing a variety of broccoli for your drawing. A diversity of colours, shapes and textures helps make a still life fruit portrait more interesting. Be sure to arrange the broccoli on your kitchen counter to photograph in ample natural light.
You’ll of course need to use up the broccoli once you’re finished drawing. Try making our famous Cheesy Vegetarian Cheddar Broccoli Almond Soup.
Broccoli Drawing Procreate Tutorial
Broccoli, an equally maligned and exalted vegetable. A little bit amusing as the subject of drawing, however in the end it was a more challenging and rewarding endeavour than I expected. Broccoli has a wide variety of texture and colour, and a luminescent quality that was fun to try to capture.
As it turns out, for all of the above reasons, broccoli is a lovely subject for still life drawing. Still life drawing uses non-living, everyday objects that are good at holding still, as subjects to practice drawing techniques like light and shadow, colour, shape and texture. Food has long been a favourite subject for still life artists.
Drawing on Procreate makes recreating telltale broccoli features fun and easy. And this procreate tutorial on how to draw broccoli will break down the process into separate steps that will have you creating a still life broccoli masterpiece in no time!
Not to mention, the Procreate methods you’ll practice using in this tutorial will create the benefit of adding many exciting new tools to your art arsenal!
How to Draw Broccoli with iPad Pro
Let’s first get set up with a new canvas in Procreate. When you first open the app you’ll be in the “gallery” where all of your artworks will be visible. Tap the “+” in the top right of the screen and a menu will appear where you can select your canvas size.
To choose your dimensions click “create custom canvas” and enter them (in mm, cm, inches, or pixels). You can simply select “screen size,” however I recommend going bigger so that you have the option to print your finished piece with a nice resolution.
For my broccoli drawing I’ve created a 11″ x 14.5″ canvas. For a canvas this size I’ve gone with a resolution of 300 DPI, which allows for up to 35 layers. If you go too big the maximum number of layers you can have in your artwork can be too few for our purposes, so this is a good size.
Now it’s important to explore and familiarize yourself with Procreate’s basic tools. Starting with the toolbar on the top right of your canvas.
- The Brush Tool: This is the tool with which you draw/paint. Tap it to open your Brush Library. Procreate’s brushes are categorized in a list down the left side of the drop down menu. Tap any of these to see your brush options in each category. Choose what you like and then tap the brush icon in the toolbar again to close the menu. Now get scribbling! Try a few different brushes and use different pressures and angles of the Apple Pencil – it’s remarkably realistic in its response to your hand.
- The Eraser Tool: It does exactly what you think it does! Tap it and you’ll open an identical Brush Library as tapping the brush tool. Try a few and see how it erases your scribbles.
- The Colour Tool: This is your colour palette. Tap and it will open in its default view of “Disc.” Use the outer wheel to select colour, and the inner circle to select lightness/darkness. Or you can use the square view that combines the two. When you’ve chosen the colour you want to use, tap the colour icon in the toolbar again to close the menu. Again, do some scribbling! Choose a variety of brush and colour combinations to get a feel for the colouring process.
- The Smudge Tool: This is used to blend colours and create gradients. This tool has the same effect as taking your finger to pencil on paper and rubbing it to blend. The smudge tool mimics the real thing fairly well but it does take some getting used to.
- The Layers Tool: You can use this menu to create multiple layers on your canvas, and select between them. How to do this, and the benefits of layers, will be best understood by following through my own example here in this Procreate tutorial.
Then there are the slider toolbars on the left side of your canvas.
- Brush Size: The top slider. Tap, hold and move up and down to adjust the size of your brush tip. A preview window will open up to help guide you. This slider is used for your brush, smudge and eraser tools in the same way.
- Brush Opacity: The bottom slider. This works the same way as the brush size slider, but is for brush opacity.
- Undo/Redo: Under the sliders you’ll see these two buttons. Tapping the undo button will undo the last stroke you drew/erased. Vice versa with the redo button. This is a very useful tool you’ll probably use a lot. You can also undo by tapping once anywhere on your canvas with two fingers.
There is also the toolbar in the top left of your canvas. For these tools I will point them out and explain them along the way as we need them.
How to Draw A Broccoli Step One: Choosing a Reference Photo
If you can take your reference photo yourself, great. You can use the iPad itself to capture a good photo. If you don’t have any broccoli handy, there are plenty of images online for you to choose from. It’s a good idea to chose one that is copyright free and there are several websites that have large libraries of free images.
I took my reference image myself in my kitchen. I included one larger stalk with a couple of smaller pieces. This way I could arrange them in a way that captured different points of view. I included the underside of the florets on the large piece, and a top views on the smaller pieces. I arranged them in a spot where they were well-lit and that I could take a nice clear photo that captured the variations in greens, yellows and blue tones.
The first thing to do before you get to drawing is setting up your reference photo to work from. A great option with iPad Pro is that you can keep your photo open in a window beside your Procreate canvas while you work.
To do so, tap and hold the bar at the bottom centre of the screen in Procreate, then slowly pull up the iPad menu (if you swipe too quickly you’ll close Procreate).
Once the menu is up, tap and hold the photos icon, and drag it to the left side of the screen (or right side, for the lefties out there!) Pull it past the edge of the Procreate window and drop it there and tada, you have both open at the same time. You can also adjust the size of the photo window by holding and sliding the side bar of the window.
How to Draw A Broccoli Step Two: Blocking Your Shapes
Now you are set up to start drawing a broccoli!
The first step will be blocking out the shapes of the pieces of broccoli with a solid colour. For this outline I used the studio pen brush under “inking” in the brush menu, because it gives a nice clean line. To determine which colour to use, I took a look at my broccoli reference photo and tried to match it generally to the “average” colour tone of each of the pieces. Your outline does not need to be perfect by any means (part of the beauty of drawing a vegetable is that it is naturally imperfect!)
Once you have a fully enclosed shape, you can fill it in with solid colour by tapping and holding the colour icon in the top right, and then dragging it to the inside of your shape and releasing. The shape will then fill with that colour. Make sure your shape is fully enclosed or the “fill” will fill the entire canvas. If this happens just tap your canvas with 2 fingers to “undo.”
Take your time with these shapes and adjust until you get the proportions and placement of all the features where you want them. You can adjust the size and position of different elements in your drawing by utilizing the “lasso” tool. That is the tool in the top left menu that looks like the letter “S”. Tap it, and then make sure “freehand” is highlighted in the bottom menu.
Then you can use your Apple Pencil to draw around the part you want to adjust. For example, I wanted a certain part of the top of the large piece to fan out a bit further, and all of the pieces to be expanded to fill the canvas better. One you’ve traced around the element you want to adjust, tap the cursor tool in the top left menu and you’ll see a bounding box appear which you can use to make those adjustments.
How to Draw A Broccoli Step Three: Underlying Gradients
Now that you have your base layers of colour you can start “painting” and adding layers of colour to build up the texture and details of your broccoli. Take a good look at your reference photo and try to see the underlying gradients of light and dark tones beneath all of the finer details.
I started first with the stalk portions of all three pieces.
For this part you do not necessarily need to be very tidy with your painting. You can roughly paint out lighter and darker areas and then blend and smooth them out using the smudge tool. For this part I chose the “gouache” brush under “painting” in the brush menu, just because I like the way it blends after the fact. Feel free to use whichever brush suits you though as you will be smudging it out anyway for the smooth broccoli stalk look.
Procreate has a feature that makes this blending part a lot easier, called the alpha lock. If you “alpha lock” a layer, you can only paint on what already exists on that layer. Meaning when blending out some colours you don’t need to worry about your smudges coming past the edges of you blocked out shape.
To alpha lock a layer, open the layers menu. Using two fingers, swipe the layer you want to lock to the right. If you’ve done it successfully the layer thumbnail will get a checkered background. To un-lock the layer at any point simply swipe it with two fingers to the right again.
Play around with your painting until you have a gradient that still evokes the underlying smooth texture of the broccoli stalk. Remember you can always undo any stroke you take by tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen.
Once you have the underlying tone gradients complete you can start adding in the finer details that create the edges of different shapes along the stalk. This is where it is helpful to zoom in and take a good look at the variations in tones and light along the broccoli stem. Upon close examination you’ll find that there is a lot of variation in the green tones of the stalk, shifting from yellow tones to blue and also some browns.
Broccoli Drawing Step Four: Details and Leaves
There are some portions of the broccoli stalk, particularly near the top underneath the floret section, where there is a lot of definition along the edges. For drawing these parts it is helpful to utilize the lasso tool to isolate section areas for drawing. To do this, tap the lasso tool and then draw around the skin portion of the shape. Then tap the “brush” tool, and voila, you have your isolated portion of that layer to draw upon.
My broccoli reference also has a few leaves whose edges stand sharp against the stalk underneath. For these it is helpful to draw them on a separate layer. To create a new layer tap the “layers” icon in the top right menu and then tap the “+”. You can change the position of each layer by tapping it in the layers menu, holding and dragging it above or below other layers.
Draw out and blend your leaves using the same technique as the stalk. For the leaf details I used the “technical pen” under “inking” because the leaf had some very defined details.
How to Draw Broccoli Step Five: The Florets
The next step is working on the broccoli florets. It is useful to do these on a separate layer as well because the boundary between this part and the stalk is mostly a crisp one. The florets also have a lot more texture to them, so isolating this portion will make it easier to create the texture without interfering with the stalk that is already drawn.
First, create your new layer. Then block out the floret sections of your broccoli in the same way you did for the original shapes. Then you can alpha lock that layer and work on your texture without contaminating beyond the edges of the boundary you’ve created.
For this section there is quite a lot of detail in the tiny green buds that make up the floret. Don’t be discouraged by it, because it is possible to trick the eye by giving a suggestion of those buds without having to actually draw out each individual shape (which would be a nightmare). For my drawing I created the effect by using a highly textured brush. I chose “sawtooth” under “materials” in the brush menu.
Feel free to experiment with different brush tips for different effects. I found I could achieve the look I wanted by changing up the sawtooth brush size, nd dotting it along the shape in a variety of sizes. Keeping that in mind, I layered up the florets by also adjusting the colour to match the lighter and darker sections. There are also some areas, particularly on the underside of the florets, that were quite pale yellow-green and almost white.
Take your time and layer up until you are happy with the effect. A helpful bit of advice here is to “zoom out” and take a look at your piece shrunken down a bit. This will give you a better idea of if you are tricking the eye enough to make your drawing convincing.
How to Draw Broccoli Step Six: Shadows
Finally, to complete the drawing I added some shadows to ground the broccoli pieces. For these, once again start on a new layer positioned below the broccoli. Draw out your shadow shapes with a clean-edged brush (like the technical pen) and fill them in with a dark, nearly black colour. Then you can use the layer’s opacity to make them slightly transparent to let the background colour come through.
To do so, open the layers menu, then tap the “N” on the shadow layer. Then you can adjust the slider to the transparency of your liking.
The last detail is choosing a background colour. You can do so by opening the layers menu and tapping the “background colour” layer. I chose a very pale blue that is leaning toward purple because I thought it complimented the bright greens in the broccoli well. But this part is up to you, so choose whatever colour you like!
- To return to a colour you’ve already used, tap with one finger on the area with the colour you want to reselect, and hold. A magnifying circle will pop up and you can move that to the exact colour spot you want. Lift your finger and it will select that colour for your brush.
- You can zoom in and out by “pinching” the screen with two fingers. Don’t forget you can zoom in for areas with small details. You can also rotate the canvas using the two-finger pinch (rather than turning the iPad itself around, an inevitable habit when you’re used to turning your piece of paper around – there is an easier way!)
- Making corrections – After you have finished a detail in your illustration, you may realize that it’s perhaps not quite the right shape, or the proportions were a little off. An amazing feature of Procreate is that rather than erasing and drawing it again (a lot of work!) you can instead isolate a portion of the drawing and stretch it. To do this, you can use the lasso tool again to trace around the area you want to stretch. Once you’ve done that, tap the cursor icon (the fourth icon in the menu at the top left of your screen). This will create a bounding box around the area you want to manipulate. From there you can stretch the area how you like using the pull points. Once you have it where you want it tap the cursor icon again.
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You’ve Completed our Realistic Broccoli Drawing Tutorial!
You’ve now mastered how to draw a broccoli!
If you’re someone who draws or paints a lot, you know it’s possible to keep going and going and tweaking and tweaking into eternity. And truthfully Procreate makes falling into this even easier. The up side, however, is that you can leave the piece alone for a time, and then very easily pick up where you left off, without having to get all of your paint and supplies out.
All that said, you will know when it’s done, and for a satisfying finish to your digital drawing experience, you can utilize one of my favourite Procreate features – timelapse video. By default, Procreate records your entire drawing process (you can opt to turn this off, but really why?) You can play it all back in high speed when your drawing is complete. It’s a fun thing to watch and a fantastic thing to share with curious fans of your art. If you’re a freelance illustrator, find that offering a timelapse video of your clients’ work acts as a competitive advantage. And better yet, offering a video that showcases the creation of your broccoli drawing requires no additional time or money.
By using this Procreate tutorial as your step-by-step drawing guide for how to draw broccoli, I’m sure you will be very satisfied with your result. Once you’ve gone through the motions from start to finish you can experiment and settle into your own process. This medium has so many possibilities that you can really let your creativity run wild. So dive in, go digital and have fun!
Best Illustration Apps
This story offers a step-by-step Procreate tutorial on how to draw a broccoli. It’s important to note that there are several other drawing apps you can use on iPad Pro when drawing broccoli. Here are just a few:
- Notes: The Apple sketch app that comes with your iPad! Simple, easy to use for quick sketches, free and fast. Though for serious drawing you may want to seek apps with more robust options/tools. Price: FREE
- Adobe Illustrator Draw: This app is for creating vector graphics, with a very intuitive interface. It can also sync with Adobe’s Creative Cloud, meaning you can transfer your work between the iPad and desktop no problem. Price: FREE with Creative Cloud subscription, monthly plan prices vary.
- Inspire: Fast and nicely responsive, with a huge variety of customizable tools, and over 80 brushes. Great for beginners and intermediates alike. Price:$13.99 CAD, $27.99 for Pro Version.
- Procreate: Easily one of the most popular drawing apps, it works seamlessly with Apple Pencil, is highly responsive and offers an excellent variety of tools, all presented in a terrifically simple interface. Price: $13.99 CAD
Procreate Tutorial: The Benefits of iPad Pro
- The process is very similar to drawing using traditional methods on paper. You’ll be delighted by how intuitive it is, and how for the actual drawing part, you don’t need to re-learn anything.
- Streamlined process. All of your supplies – camera, reference photos, paper, pens, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, paint and paint brushes, are all combined into one place – iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil.
- The ability to undo when your pen stroke wasn’t quite right. You can also edit certain elements after the fact. The thickness of that piece is too much, I don’t quite like the colour I used here. All of that can be fixed!
- The ability to work in layers, drawing or colouring over or under certain elements without worrying about accidental erasing or colour contamination.
- You aren’t tethered to your desk, you can get comfy and work wherever you like. And that includes outside your own home too.
- Easy transferability/shareability of your art. Your finished product is already in a format that you can add to your illustration portfolio online, share on your social media, etc. No need to arrange a high quality scan or professional photograph.
- The ability to replicate elements, (for patterning, for example) rather than needing to hand-draw the same thing over and over.
If you’re a freelance illustrator looking to up your game, getting familiar with this medium will benefit you tremendously. And if you are an amateur who just loves to draw, looking to have fun creating broccoli or other still life drawings, iPad Pro and Apple Pencil can help you do things you might not have thought possible.
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