Looking to learn how to draw a candle?
This easy Procreate tutorial is here to help! Read along for a simple yet comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to draw a realistic candle and flame 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 candle 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 candles as our example!
How to Draw a Candle on iPad
I’m a Toronto illustrator 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 an 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 candle, 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.
Candle Drawing Procreate Tutorial
Nothing says cozy like a candle.
Especially now in Canada, during the holiday season and darkest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The soft glow of candlelight is simultaneously romantic, dramatic and soothing. The atmosphere that a candle conjures is very specific, and that can make them tricky to capture in drawing. But through this tutorial you’ll see how to break down the complexity into separate steps that when done one by one, aren’t that hard after all.
Drawing candles is also great practice for understanding how light works in a composition. For this reason they also make great subject matter for still life drawing. Still life drawing utilizes non-living, everyday objects that are good at holding still as subjects to practice drawing techniques like light and shadow, colour, shape and texture.
Luckily for you Procreate has many cool tools and tricks that can make capturing that telltale glow of candlelight fun and easy. You will be creating a still life candle 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 A Candle 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 candle drawing I’ve created an 11″ x 14″ canvas at a resolution of 300. The larger the canvas size and resolution the fewer layers you can have in your artwork, so just keep that in mind.
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 Candles 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 a candle 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, like pixabay or upsplash.
I took my reference image myself in my kitchen. For it I dimmed the lights, and set a white candle on a wooden table in front of an exposed brick wall. To add some festiveness, and for practice on drawing objects dimly lit by candlelight, I included the contents of a homemade stovetop Christmas potpourri kit I had been gifted! This included some spruce branches, a clementine, cinnamon sticks, and a couple of pine cones. Then I topped it off with a shiny red Christmas ball, just because it reflects light so deliciously. Overall I think it made for a cozy festive reference photo from which to create out candle drawing.
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 Candle Step Two: Block Out your Candle
Now you are set up to start drawing candles!
The first step is to get your candle shape established as a base from which to paint. Because my reference photo uses a white candle against a dark background, I started by darkening my background colour to a brown tone that evoked the average colour of the scene. To do so click on the “layers” menu and you will find a layer called “background colour.” Tap it and your colour selector will open. You can drag your pencil tip along the selector and watch the background change colour in real time.
Make your selection, and then create a new layer upon which you’ll draw your candle. Do so by tapping the “+” icon in the top right of the layers menu. Now you can draw your candle shape using it’s actual colour – white. For this I used the “technical pen” brush under “inking” in the Brush Menu, because it gives a nice clean edge. Draw out your shape and then you can quickly fill in the colour by tapping and holding your selected colour in the top right of your screen. From there you can drag it over to the shape you’d like to fill and release.
From here adjust your shape using the eraser tool if need be until you get it to a shape that you like. You can also utilize the “select tool” here if you’d like to change your shape in other ways. For example, I found my candle was a little too thick when I finished the shape. To easily adjust this, tap the select tool (the cursor icon in the top left menu) and a bounding box will appear. You can then drag and adjust the shape by pulling on the anchor points around the bounding box.
There are four “settings” or ways of adjusting that are listed along the bottom of the screen when the selection tool is highlighted – Freeform, Uniform, Distort and Warp. Play around with them to see how they work differently.
Remember you can always undo any stroke you take by tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen.
How to Draw A Candle Step Three: Colour and Shading
The next step will be adding some three-dimensionality to your candle and evoking the glow that’s created from its flame. When I take a look at my reference photo, I see that my white candle is actually shades of blue and orange/yellow when lit in the dark. To begin, it is a good idea to apply the alpha lock to your candle layer.
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.
Additionally here, it will be helpful to utilize another great Procreate drawing method – the lasso tool. You can use this tool to isolate specific areas with a layer to draw on. Tap on the icon in the top left menu that looks like the “S,” then trace around the area you want to draw. For our example I wanted to isolate the bottom area of the candle against the top portion, because there is a hard edge of bright white along the top.
Once you’ve completed outlining your area, next tap the brush tool. Everything not selected on your canvas will be blocked out with a striped pattern temporarily. You can paint freely in your selected area without affecting what else surrounds it.
With your candle layer alpha locked you can start adding your colour tones. I used the “round brush” under “painting” in the brush menu, because it has a somewhat blotchy application, which is similar to candle wax. Pay attention to the gradual changes in light and dark across the candle and paint accordingly. You can also use the smudge tool here to help with your blending.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get a nice smooth gradient using just the smudge tool alone, and so a trick you can use to smooth everything out is to apply a blur to your layer. Once you have your colours painted on to your liking, tap the magic wand icon in the top left menu. You’ll see three blur options there. Each has a slightly different effect, for this I used the Gaussian Blur. Tap that option and you’ll see “Slide to adjust” across the top of your screen. Now just hold your pencil down and slide it to the right and you’ll see both the percentage of blur you are applying, and you’ll see the application to the layer at the same time. Adjust until the unevenness of your blending gets smoothed out. Amazing!
Next you can zoom in on the outer rim of the top of the candle. In my reference photo there is a concentration of a yellow colour there, like a thin line. Continue to add those details until the wax portion of your candle is complete.
How to Draw a Candle Step Four: Background Atmosphere
I decided to leave the candle flame to the very end, so the next step is “setting the mood” with the background features and glow.
For the table, create a new layer again in the layers menu. Tap and hold the new layer until you can drag it underneath your candle layer. Next choose an average colour tone of the wood and block out the table shape like you did with the candle. Then alpha lock the layer and start painting in your gradient. You’ll notice from the reference photo that the edges of the table are darker and that there is a circle of light surrounding the candle. There is also a shadow from everything on the table, but we’ll apply shadows later. Use the round brush again to roughly paint out the changes in tone.
And now you can apply the Gaussian Blur trick again to smooth the gradient out to a nice effect.
For the wall bricks you can again utilize the lasso tool. Tap on the “S” icon in the top left menu then trace around the area you want to draw. So for your first brick, just draw out a (naturally) rough brick shape. Once you’ve completed outlining your area, next tap the brush tool. Everything not selected on your canvas will be blocked out with a striped pattern temporarily. You can then paint freely in your selected area without affecting what else surrounds it. For the brick I chose a rough textured brush – “stucco” under “painting,” increased the brush size to quite large and then quickly painted across the shape to fill it in. You can then repeat that slightly adjusting the paint colour each time to create a full wall of bricks rather quickly.
To finish it off I adjusted the “background colour” layer to one that now matched the mortar between the bricks better, and then on a separate layer added a few rough highlights to give it texture.
Now again for the brick there is a glow of light in the centre around the candle flame, and it gets darker at the edges. To achieve this, create another separate layer on top of the brick layer. Choose a very dark, almost black colour and roughly paint out the gradient ring of darkness around the edges of the candle glow. Then once again apply the Gaussian Blur to your liking until you see a nice smooth gradient of darkening away from the flame.
The next step is adding the texture to the table. I did this using the stucco brush again. I used some variation in brush size to create the varied grain of the wood on the table. Procreate has a trick to create a straight line which will be helpful here. When you finish drawing your line, keep holding your pencil tip down without moving it, and after a second or so your line will snap to a perfectly straight one. Very handy! Move across the table surface adding grain and then some highlights using a lighter tone.
How to Draw a Candle Step Five: Candlelit Objects
Now that the stage is set, you can go about adding the festive accoutrements that surround your candle. You will do this the same way you did the candle, by blocking it out in a solid colour first, alpha locking its layer, and then building up the gradients and details.
My suggestion is to go about these one at a time, starting with the object that is on the bottom (in this case the spruce branches) and then moving up from there in space, with each object on a separate layer. Make sure you pay close attention to the light value in these objects. They are in a light situation that is not necessarily intuitive, as candle light or any kind of dim light is not something most of us have had as much practice drawing.
The spruce needles are an interesting case here as most of them look like a very dark, almost black mass in the reference photo. However there are certain sections where needles are brightly lit, emerging from the darkness. Utilize separate layers, your alpha lock, and the tips above about blending to capture that impression of the light hitting just that small section of the branch.
Lastly, once the decorations are all complete, add the shadow that exists underneath the contents on the table. Do this again on a separate layer with a very dark colour, and blend out the edges to create that soft shadow look, either through the smudge tool, or by utilizing the Gaussian Blur once again.
How to Draw a Candle Step Six: The Flame
And now finally, probably the most interesting and mysterious part of any candle drawing – the flame! Fire is a strange thing, a visual phenomenon that is there but also somehow not there. Fast, fleeting and ever-changing. Intimidating to novice drawers. To achieve a convincing candle flame, however, you will utilize the same method we’ve been practicing already throughout this tutorial.
To begin, block out the very bright, white shape of the flame, including the parts that taper down to the wick. In my drawing I did this on the same layer as the candle itself, as it is sort of an extension of the candle.
To add the bright yellow glow, use the round painting brush with its transparency brought down slightly to draw a circle and fill it in around the flame. Layer another circle on top of that that is smaller and within the first circle. Then repeat, again and again, until the yellow is very bright in the centre at the edges of the white flame shape, and “dimmer” as it radiates out. Then, once again apply your Gaussian Blur to this layer and watch your flame immediately come to life! Don’t forget the blue portion of the flame along the wick. You can create the using the same method as the yellow glow above, on a separate layer too.
Remember if ever you want to undo a certain stroke, just tap the screen once with two fingers. You can go back as many strokes as you like this way, Procreate remembers everything!
- 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!)
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You’ve Completed our Realistic Candle Drawing Tutorial!
You’ve now mastered how to draw candles!
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 upside, 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 candle drawing requires no additional time or money.
I’m sure you’ll be satisfied by this Procreate tutorial as your step-by-step drawing guide for how to draw a candle. 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 candles. It’s important to note that there are several other drawing apps you can use on iPad Pro when drawing candles. 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
If you’re a newbie digital illustrator we also suggest purchasing Beginners Guide to Digital Painting in Procreate, iPad and iPad Pro for Dummies, a protective iPad cover and Apple Pencil Case.
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 candles 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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