Every Art is inspired by reality. An artist takes cues from nature and uses it on the canvas. The more detailed the subject is, the more realistic it looks. Drawing objects from nature demand a lot of patience and observance, but the results are incredible too. Have you tried drawing water on a sheet of paper? Do you find it challenging? If yes, then keep reading. I will tell you how to draw water with a pencil step by step.

feather drawing

Words are powerful, Art is above all!

Understanding the Basics

To be an artist, having a vision is not enough; you must also be an observer. Observing different objects and analyzing how a 3D object will look on a 2D surface is a challenging task. So, we will start with the basics of art.

Light and Shadows

Everything we see is an image formed through light and its reflections (Basic Physics, right?) 😉 Now, when you are observing an object to draw, you must observe the source of light and the shadow it forms. If you can follow the light and its reflections correctly you will be able to draw the object more precisely. Drawing shadows gives depth to the picture. You can use different tones (dark, mid and light) to define the shadows and light.

shadow drawing

Shadow is a mute reflection!


Another important factor is to understand how to show distance in a 2D drawing. When you observe you will notice that the object at far away places look smaller than the ones that are close to you. Also, the object becomes lighter and vague as the distance increases. You must swear by these two observations, and you can ace a 2D drawing. With the distance, comes the concept of background and foreground. The objects in the foreground are sharp and clear. While as you approach the background, things start becoming cloudy and indistinct.

Objects Become Smaller as Distance Increases

Objects Become Smaller as Distance Increases

Substance / State of the Object

We know, there are three states as solid liquid and air. While drawing a solid object is easy, drawing liquid and air might be a bit tricky. You must know some properties of these objects. It becomes even more complicated when the object is transparent. Because light passes through them partially and the reflections (we see in next point) it forms have to be drawn with utmost care.

Water picture

Always a water baby!



A transparent liquid object like water forms reflection. These reflections are not an exact copy but some irregular shades which makes a vague figure of the object. Tricky, right? Not so much. Let’s look at the picture below and observe it.

Reflection of Boat on Water

Reflection of Boat on Water

Here the boat is making a reflection in the clear water. It is not an exact mirror image but a vague impression formed on the surface of the water. So, whenever you draw a reflection in the water, you must shade the area and blend the lines thoroughly.

Now, you must have understood how to draw a reflection. Good job! Well Begun is Half Done.




Now that we have brushed up on our basics let’s move on to the application part. For this, we will need some tools (obviously)! Here, we will see the essentials required to draw water on a paper.

Drawing Board


On the risk of sounding too obvious, I am writing this. 😛 You will need a drawing board or a piece of paper depending on the size of drawing you want to make. One tip that I want to add is Choose a good quality paper for this purpose. Don’t compromise with quality. It should neither be too glossy nor too textured. You will know the difference quality of the paper makes when you start drawing. The result will also be affected by the quality of paper that you select.

clipart of a drawing board

Clipart of a drawing board

Medium (Pencil)


Before start drawing, you must decide the medium you would like to draw with. You can choose to draw with a simple lead pencil, or color pencils, or charcoal or even watercolors. All these are equally good and will give you amazing results. The rule here is to select the one you are comfortable with and if you have mastered that then you can experiment by switching to other mediums. We will discuss drawing with pencils in this article.

Drawing pencils

Mightiest of all, The Pencil



No, I do not doubt your sketching skills, you can most definitely skip it if you are confident about getting the perfect results in the first go 😉 , but for others, I recommend to keep an eraser handy to make alterations during the process.

Drawing eraser

I’m Mr. Eraser, Dad of Backspace!

Blending Stumps / Cotton Buds


To make the objects look realistic blending playing an important role. The sharp lines appear very superficial while blending the same lines looks very appealing. You can use a blending stump for this purpose, but if you don’t have one, cotton buds and fingers do a fair job. You will get almost similar results.

Basic fundamentals- 🗸 , Tools- 🗸. Now, is the time for the most exciting part, the drawing.

We will talk about two types of images. First is how to draw water droplets and second is how to draw water waves. Let’s start with water droplets step by step.

Blending Stump

Blending Stump

How to Draw Water Droplets

Water Droplets

Water Droplets

We will refer to a picture. In the above picture, there are a few waterdrops of different sizes. Light is falling from the upper right corner and is reflected on the drops. It is also making a shadow on the opposite side.

  • We shall start by drawing a few circles/ovals of different sizes.
  • Then make a white mark on the upper right corner (the direction of light) of all circles.
  • Shade the area around it with black pencil to give it depth.
  • With a white pencil, shade around the opposite edges OR use an eraser for this purpose.
  • A shadow should fall just below it.
  • In between the shadow, there is some light being refracted which you must show with a white pencil. Then blend all the lines with cotton buds.
  • You must create light tones, mid tones and dark tones which will give the drawing realistic 3D look.
Hand drawn water droplets

Hand drawn water droplets

How to Draw Water Waves

Sea Water Waves

Do you ‘sea’ me?

If we look at the above picture, we can see big waves in the foreground. The calm background gives the illusion of distance. We will add some white tones to show the reflection of light. It is dark below the waves.

  • Draw waves with a pencil.
  • Draw big waves first and then shorter waves as you proceed. The waves get smoother and lighter to give the illusion of distance.
  • Shade the edges of the waves and then blend.
  • Also, with white pencil shade the area opposite to the edges.
  • Draw some more lines in between the waves, to make it more realistic. Water doesn’t flow in a defined pattern so make lines irregular.
  • Create some dark tones, mid-tone, and light tones.
  • Make sure, the foreground is dark, and the background becomes lighter as the waves become vague and smoother as the distance increases.

Sea waves drawing

Hand Drawn sea waves



Remember “Every Artist was First an Amateur.” And what makes that amateur an expert artist? The correct techniques and lots of practice. You now know the technique of how to draw water, so what are you waiting for? Pick up your tools and get going. 😊


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