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Draw the Elements: How to Draw Fire

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

It’s getting cold outside, so let’s draw some fire to warm up! In this tutorial I will show you how to draw a candle flame, a campfire, and a thrown flame using a few simple tools.

What You Will Need

  • Some sheets of paper
  • Hard pencil (HB)
  • Medium soft pencil (2B)
  • Soft pencil (5B or lower)
  • Cotton swab/blending stump
  • Eraser
  • Charcoal stick (optional)

You can read more about these tools in the introduction to How to Draw Trees.

1. How to Draw a Candle Flame

Step 1

Sketch a candle using the hard pencil.

how to start drawing a candle

Step 2

Draw the outline of the flame. It should be quite elongated; a teardrop shape is not realistic.

how to sketch a flame

Step 3

Add some space on the sides�—this will be the glow around the flame.

how to sketch a glow

Step 4

Tilt your pencil and draw all around the candle and the flame. Don’t press too hard, but try to cover all the white. We need to make the background dark, so that the fire (which is pure light) can stand out.

how to darken bckground with pencil

Step 5

Take your blending tool and drag it all around the area to make it smooth.

how to blend pencils

Step 6

Take a softer pencil and darken the area.

how to blend dark pencils

Blend it as well.

how to blend soft pencils

Step 7

Take the softest pencil and repeat the process, this time closer to the flame.

how to increase contrast in drawing
how to make flame stand out

Step 8

Use the same pencil again, but this time very close to the flame. Feel free to press harder.

how to use soft pencil

Step 9

When blending this area, go slightly inside the flame in the glow area.

how to blend soft pencil

Step 10

Use an eraser to separate the flame from the blurry glow.

how to shade with eraser

Step 11

Use a hard and a soft pencil to shade the candle. The closer to the flame, the brighter it should be.

how to shade a candle
how to shade wax

Step 12

Use the softest pencil to shade the wick and darken the base of the flame.

how to draw candle wick
how to draw a realistic candle flame

Step 13

Finally, use an eraser to make the melted wax shiny.

how to make wax shine

2. How to Draw a Campfire/Fireplace

Step 1

Sketch a stack of wood as a base for the fire. Use a hard pencil and keep the lines subtle.

how to draw stack of wood

Step 2

Sketch the flames embracing the wood from below.

how to draw flames below wood

Step 3

Darken the wood.

how to darken wood

Step 4

Draw the rest of the flames. Keep them wavy and irregular.

how to sketch flames

Step 5

Darken the wood some more using a softer pencil. Keep the parts “inside” the fire brighter.

how to shade wood
how to shade wood with pencils

Step 6

Just like before, darken and blend the background. Don’t worry about smudging over the flames—they will look more natural this way!

how to draw dark background

Step 7

Use an eraser to “draw” a few flames over the wood.

how to clean up the flames

Step 8

Add some dark ground to increase the contrast.

how to create good contrast

Step 9

Darken the background some more. This time, be careful not to touch the flames.

how to shade flames

Step 10

Flames have three colors: white, yellow, and orange, but in grayscale it’s simply “bright” and “slightly darker”. Use the hard pencil to make some of the flames “orange”.

how to draw fire in grayscale
how to shade gray flames

Step 11

Take the softest pencil and add the darker shade here and there to increase the contrast and make the flames brighter.

shade the backrgound
how to draw a realistic campfire with pencils

3. How to Draw a Thrown Flame/Dragon Fire

Step 1

Use a hard pencil to draw a subtle line showing the direction of the flame.

how to start drawing a thrown flame

Step 2

Draw the outline of the flame with a shaking hand, making it narrow at the beginning and cloud-like at the end.

how to draw fire outline

Step 3

Add a wider outline to create the area for the midtones.

how to plan shading areas

Step 4

Just like before, use softer pencils and the blending tool to create the darkness around. Once you touch the “outer” outline, try to smudge some shade inside it.

how to add dark background

Step 5

Take an eraser and give a cleaner edge to the inner flame. You can also add some flames flying around.

how to make flame shine

Step 6

Draw “waves” inside the flame to shade it a little. The hotter the flame, the brighter it should be, but subtle shading may make it look more interesting.

how to shade bright flame

Step 7

Take the softest pencil and darken the background even more, if you feel it’s possible. This will make the flame even brighter. This is a good place to use a charcoal stick, if you have one—it will give you a nice dark shade without having to draw so much.

how to draw realistic dragon fire with pencils

Good Job!

Did you like this tutorial? Check out others from the How to Draw Nature series:

Do you want to make your drawings look great when digitized? Try these:

how to draw realistic fire with pencils