Drawing a Lily Magnolia with watercolor

Drawing a lily magnolia with watercolor


In this blogpost I show you the process I have followed for drawing a lily magnolia using watercolor and I give you tips to digitalize watercolor illustrations to use them later for other purposes.

Hi friends!, I am doing a new serie about botanical illustration with watercolors and I´d like to show you in this post the step by step of drawing a lily Magnolia and how to digitalize watercolor illustrations.


All flowers have different meanings. The Magnolia is the oriental symbol of delicacy and feminine beauty. In ancient China, only the emperor was the exclusive owner of these flowers, so a magnolia present was always considered as an honor.

There are lots of different varieties and today I have finished a Lily Magnolia, whose flowers are really beautiful and with the shape of tulips, with firm and waxy petals.

This is my reference picture. I got it from PxHere, a great website where you can find lots of beautiful pictures copyright free.

More or less, I have spent around 14 hours to complete the illustration.


Paper: Canson hot pressed Moulin du Roy 300g/m2
Brushes: Escoda 0.2 y Winsor & Newton 3 y 5, all round
Watercolors: Sonnet Studio: Colors: Carmin, Red Light, Ultramarine light and Sap Green ; Sennelier: Green Earth



I always start by drawing or sketching the flower in a plain paper, and for this purpose you can photocopy your reference and draw in a paper directly from it, using a light table.

This is my sketch for the lily magnolia

lily magnolia watercolor sketch


To apply the color, I normally use the wet on dry watercolor technique, building layers slowly with more precision (you can visit a previous post where I show you steps of this process here)

Here you have a short video with the layering process to apply the color

The drying time is quite fast, as I don´t wet the paper very much on each layer. Also I like taking my time working in each area, in order to achieve all the possible details I can get from my reference picture.


Once the illustration is finished, I scan it to have it in a digital file. Normally I scan at 600 or 720 ppp, to get a better resolution.

One of the main benefits using this wet on dry watercolor technique is that the scanning process is much easier than if we were using the wet on wet, as our edges are clean and well defined.

Next and after scanning it, with Photoshop I adjust the levels a bit as the scanner normally drops the colors down.

how to digitalize watercolor illustrations
Ilustración recién escaneada

When the colors have been modified, I delete the white background, using the Pen Tool to make a good selection, creating different Paths. My goal es to get a transparent background.

To soften the edges, I use a soft brush and I create a new layer underneath full with a bright color contrasting with the illustration (in this case, yellow).

how to digitalize watercolor illustrations

Here we have the clean image, without a background. Now I can use it to make multiple compositions digitally.


This is the final result of the Lily Magnolia created with watercolor and digitalized using Photoshop so as I mentioned before, it is perfect for different purposes, such as prints or patterns.

What do you think?

drawing a lily magnolia with watercolor
Magnolia Liliflora frame mockup

Leave a Reply

The personal data you provide us through this form will be recorded in a file by Beatriz Pascual, in order to manage the comments you make on this blog. The legitimation is done through the consent of the interested party. Your email will not be included in any database. If it is not accepted you will not be able to comment on this blog. You can check my privacy policy. You can exercise your rights of access, rectification, cancellation and opposition at info@pascualandco.com

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: