Make autumn magical with our enchanting mushroom drawing tutorial
Take your pencils with you on an autumn walk and sketch in the fresh air. Discover how to create a beautiful mushroom drawing with our simple guide
As autumn approaches, head outside for crisp walks through the woods. On the forest floor there will be many mushrooms to discover, including the iconic red and white spotted Fly Agaric.
This distinctive toadstool is a sure sign autumn is coming! Discover how to sketch your own realistic mushroom and capture its unique beauty.
Mushroom drawing is a wonderful way to celebrate the changing seasons. Mushrooms can be used to add interest to a sketch of a woodland scene or as the starring feature of a piece of autumnal artwork.
We’ll show you how to sketch the shape of your mushroom, the basics of pencil shading and how to gradually build up layers of colour. As you work, your mushroom will come to life and stand out from the page.
Once you’ve learnt the basic method, you’ll be able to draw any mushroom variety with confidence.
What is a Fly Agaric?
These bright red spotted mushrooms are enchanting and are evocative of fairy tales and magical folklore. This species can grow to 20cm across and 30cm tall and is native to the UK.
However, these toadstools are highly toxic, so make sure you never pick wild mushrooms. It’s also important to leave them in their natural habitat because they are part of a wider eco-system. If you do want to draw them from life, you can take your sketchbook with you out to the woods or buy mushrooms from your local farmer’s market.
Want to learn more about the mushrooms you can find on a woodland walk? Take a look at this British wild mushroom and fungi guide from BBC Countryfile Magazine.
Top tips for mushroom drawing
For this mushroom drawing tutorial, we’ll focus on the beautiful organic shapes and the unique colours of this amazing fungus. Here are a few expert tips to bear in mind:
- Good things come in threes: You’ll learn how to draw a cluster of three mushrooms in total, each at a different stage of growth. Drawing three mushrooms will make the picture feel balanced (the rule of three applies in any drawing).
- Vary your mushroom shapes: The Fly Agaric mushroom varies in shape and size, so it’s interesting to showcase several different examples in your mushroom drawing.
- Sketch your outlines using light pressure: You’ll start by roughly sketching out the basic mushroom shapes with a soft pencil. Use light pressure so that you can easily erase the lines to make corrections. After sketching out all the key shapes, you will then begin to add layers of colour using colouring pencils.
- Begin with your lightest colour: When colouring, gradually build layers of colour, starting with the lightest colour first. This gives lots of depth to your colours.
- Choose the right paper: A smooth surfaced cartridge paper will work best for this project.
Preferred mushroom drawing materials
For this mushroom drawing tutorial, use A3 200 gsm cartridge paper, which you can get from any local art shop.
Our mushroom drawing was created using a combination of Caran d’ache watercolour crayons, which are soft and blendable. The colours in this range are vibrant and bright.
The Derwent ‘Drawing’ range is also brilliant, because they are so creamy and blendable. This set has a nature-inspired woodland colour palette.
We’d also recommend this Faber and Castell rubber, which lifts colour off the page without smudging. It’s green, which is strange but it works.
How to draw a mushroom
You Will Need
- A soft sketching pencil, A HB or 2B pencil
- Pencil sharpener
- A4 or A3 cartridge paper, Choose paper with a soft grain
- Coloured pencils, Reds, oranges, yellows, light grey, dark grey, light brown, dark brown, dark blue, light greens, dark greens
- Electric rubber, Optional
Sketching a light outline of your mushroom
Drawing the mushroom’s iconic cap
We’re going to draw a fully grown mushroom at the centre of the page, which will be the starring feature of your picture.
A mature mushroom has a wide, flatter cap with gills visible underneath. We’ll add the gills and the spots at a later stage.
First, draw the outline of the cap (the top of the mushroom), which is long and narrow. Press lightly with your pencil so that you can easily erase the lines to make any corrections.
Draw a big curved line underneath for the white underside of the mushroom cap.
Support the cap with a slender stalk
Draw a horizontal, downward curving line across the centre of the underside of the cap. This will be where the stem joins onto the cap.
Now, sketch two lines going down for the top part of the stem. Curve these lines slightly so the mushroom appears to tilt. This will give it a more organic form.
Next add the skirt, which is the little frilly bit around the stem. Extend the rest of the stem so that it meets the ground.
Create a mini mushroom family
Give your mushroom a little friend for company
Now we’re going to create a little cluster of fungi around our central mushroom. Follow the same steps as above, but this time vary the shapes and sizes of the cap. To the left of the central mushroom draw a short, fat, baby mushroom.
Start by drawing a chubby ball shape for the cap of the baby mushroom. It should be about half the height of your first mushroom, with the cap sitting at the height of the main mushroom’s skirt.
Support the baby mushroom with a strong stalk
Draw two curved lines down for the stem. The gills have not developed yet on these young mushrooms, so we don’t need to draw them here. Make sure the stem is nice and thick and chunky. This young mushroom hasn’t grown a skirt yet either, so we don’t need to draw it this time.
Complete the set with a final mushroom
The last fungus in your mushroom drawing is going to be medium-sized and positioned to the right of the central mushroom.
The cap is more defined and has a classic mushroom dome shape. You can’t see the gills here, but it does have a skirt which juts out from beneath the cap. Add two lines going down for the stem.
Check the structure and set the scene
Step back to see the full picture
Stand back from your drawing and take a moment to look at your composition as a whole. If you’re too close to your work, looking at it from a distance can change your perspective.
Are there any shapes or proportions you wish to amend? For example, does the cap of the main mushroom need to be a little bigger?
Now is the time to fix the structure before moving on to the next steps.
Soften your drawing by growing some grass
Finally, sketch out some blades of grass to frame your mushrooms and give a sense of them being grounded on the page.
Tidy up unwanted lines
At this stage, you can also tidy up your lines and erase any that you don’t need. Clean up the drawing so that you have a fresh surface to add colour to at the next stage.
Saturate your mushroom drawing with rich colours
Start with the lightest shades of yellow
Now you’ve sketched out the basic composition of your mushroom drawing, it’s time to start adding colour. There is no need to leave any white spaces for the spots here as it’s time-consuming to colour around the areas for the spots. Instead, we’ll use the electric rubber at the end to lift off layers of colour and create the white spots.
Even though the cap will be red at the end, you’re going to start with several layers of yellow.
Next, you’ll gradually build layers of oranges and reds to achieve a vibrant red mushroom. You can add several tones of each colour if you have more than one orange pencil, for example.
Introduce shadows for a 3D finish
This is also an opportunity to give some shape and dimension to the dome-like cap so that it looks round.
On one side of the cup, build up heavier and darker layers of reds so that it appears to be in shadow. Imagine that the light is hitting the opposite side.
Add a tiny amount of dark reddish brown and a touch of dark blue on the side of the mushrooms that are in shadow.
Creating the distinctive white spots
Use the fine point of your electric rubber to give your mushroom drawing some spots!
The more pressure you add, the larger and whiter your spot will be. Try to vary the sizes and placement of the spots so it feels random and organic.
Use a paintbrush to get rid of the rubbings without smudging the drawing.
Colouring the stems
Erase the pencil lines as you work to prevent smudging.
For the stems, use a cream coloured pencil. Build up layers of cream, pale grey and light brown for the fleshy stems. Then on the side that’s in shadow, add soft layers of darker greys, browns and blues to make them look 3D.
Colouring the gills
Draw an impression of the gills rather than adding fine details.
Put a base layer down of cream across the whole underside of the cap. Notice the shadow just underneath the rim where it joins the red part of the cap. Add some soft layers of pale grey and light brown pencil there to create that shady effect.
Use your light brown pencil to draw the direction of the gills, which flow into the centre of the base of the mushroom cap. Add a mixture of lighter and heavier lines for the gills.
Add shadow behind where the stem joins the cap to create a sense of depth.
Colouring the grass
To complete the mushroom drawing, we’re going to shade in the grass.
Apply layers of yellow for the grass just like you did for the mushroom caps. The result will be a vibrant, bright green.
After yellow, gradually build layers of green, starting with the lightest first and getting progressively darker.
Use the side of your pencil to create washes of pencil to represent the earth the mushrooms are rooted in. Draw some little blades of grass growing out of this to finish your drawing.
How to draw mushrooms that leap from the page
Celebrate the natural world this autumn by creating your own realistic mushroom drawing. You’ve learnt how to produce an enchanting picture of a mushroom that stands out.
Sketching your outline using light pressure is an essential skill, as it allows you to erase any mistakes early in the drawing process.
In this tutorial, you’ve also developed coloured pencil shading techniques that will help you become a more confident artist. Remember to always work from light to dark and build up layers of colour gradually.
Once you can sketch the basic shape of a Fly Agaric mushroom, you’ll be able to use the same technique to draw other mushroom varieties. Enjoy creating a woodland scene packed with bewitching mushrooms and fungi!
Fall in love with painting this autumn
At this time of year, we love to settle down with a steaming mug of hot chocolate and start a relaxing art project.
If you need more soothing autumn vibes in your life, we’ve got you covered! Brush up your painting skills and get stuck into our favourite fall painting ideas.