A Cuppa Cactus: Drawing Tutorial (on an iPad)

Some days I feel like I don’t achieve anything. But then other days, like today, I draw cacti in cups…

This post is a tutorial on how to draw simple and cute cacti. Fair enough, you could just look at some images from google and figure it it out (like I did) but hopefully you’ll still find this useful, even if it’s just for a source of inspiration and a starting point.

I’m not really sure why I chose to draw a cactus this morning… but they’re pretty cute so I just sort of went with it. I had a look on Pinterest, searching for “cute cactus”, and these are a few things which came up that I found particularly inspiring…

These images above are from a website called Dcoracao – No idea what it says on this website but these photos of cacti are adorable (if you speak Spanish you should be ok).

This one came from Brit & Co – So many pretty images but I particularly loved this one 🙂

How have I not come across Sally Payne before?! I found her website only today and I LOVE it. Really. Cute and simple and very effective at just looking totally lovely. I expect that more inspiration images will be coming from Sally.

Pots with faces. These adorable pots are great and I saw them on Etsy. I think I’ll be drawing cute faces on some of my pots! 🙂 🙂

Let’s get to the tutorial. This is on Paintstorm, and I’m going to keep it to a maximum of three layers to keep it simple. I think the free version has a limit on the amount of layers you can use (if anyone can confirm this please do) so I’ll try to stick with that so it’s easier to follow.

Start by opening a new document, the size of mine is 400mm x 400mm and I am on a 150 resolution. This seems quite low but because I am doing it for fabric printing it’s great. I won’t be able to make the design any bigger than 400mm x 400mm though or it’ll lose quality.

Get yourself set up (setting up image below), so choose your brush (1). I use one which is simply called brush (2). Then set the size (3), for these kind of drawings I go for size 5-6 but whatever floats your boat that’s down to personal preference really. The image might be too small to see details but in the brush details there’s something called stabiliser. This helps to draw smoother lines. I set mine to around 50 for this. Then select the ruler (4). We’ll use this to draw straight lines which will help us keep the pots and cacti around the right sizes.

Image 1 (below). This is the guide layer. Get a nice bright red colour and draw two lines which will guide where the top of your pot will get to, and where the base of your pot will go to. This isn’t an exact science, just a rough guide. Then get another colour, like blue, and draw where the top of your cactus will go to. Again, it’s just a guide and not exact.

Image 2. Make a new layer. This is the pots layer. Change your brush colour to black (or whatever) and start drawing some pots so they roughly fit within the red lines. Decorate them however you see fit, have a look at mine for some ideas 🙂

Image 3. Make your third and final layer. This is the cactus layer. Make sure you’re in a new layer now. That way if you need to erase any things it’s easy to do so without accidentally erasing any of your pots. Draw some cactus outlines, if you’re stuck for shapes just have a look at mine. When I got a bit stuck I just looked at the photos of cacti above. Also, as you can see, I threw a couple of succulents in there. Try doing a mix of shapes, long skinny one, short fat ones, succulents that twist around everywhere (and it hasn’t escaped me that the pot with the face looks like it ha crazy hair).

Image 4. Now you can get rid of your guide layer. Just delete it. You are almost ready to add some detail to the cacti. But first I recommend making the brush size smaller. I have changed mine to just under 3. It’s not an exact science, as I scrolled it landed on 2.83 and I figured that it would do nicely. Also, I still have some stabiliser on mine. It helps lines be less ‘wobbly’ so I’ll keep it for now but when I add the spikes I’ll put this number right down.

Image 5. In this image you can see that I have used my thin brush to just draw some detail on the cacti (and succulents). Some simple lines turn these from super basic outlines to something that has a bit more shape.

Image 6. I have massively reduced my stabiliser for this (for short sharp details, like spikes, the stabiliser adds to much drag and slows the brush down for it to be any use). So just draw little lines and V shapes for the cactus spikes.

Image 7. Now, merge the two layers together (on the Layer menu at the top, it is called ‘merge layer down’. Then use the paint tin to fill in your cacti, and succulents if you done those too, in all sorts of lovely colours. The paint tin on my screen is in a menu box on the top right corner (third one down on the left). You can see this on the setting up image above.

Now you are done! Wahoo! Here are a few more of mine… I can’t decide if I prefer them to be coloured in or left as outlines. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “A Cuppa Cactus: Drawing Tutorial (on an iPad)

  1. Just wanted to echo this ^^
    I’ve always wanted to try doing some digital illustrating but find it really intimidating figuring out how to start. This is so easy to follow! Thank you! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you like it 😃
      I’m thinking about doing some more tutorials for iPad illustration – it also encourages me to learn more about the apps I’m using as well 😁😁


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